Catherine Jones finds inspired flavours from one of Jamie’s first Fifteen at Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
The tide’s in as I sit down to dinner at the Dune Restaurant in Fistral Beach Hotel. You can’t miss engaging with the state of the weather and the tide when you’re dining here, as the huge picture windows provide panoramic views of the beach.
Fistral is just around the headland from Newquay town centre and it’s a mecca for surfers. And today, as on any good surf day, there are lots of them bobbing about in the water waiting for the perfect wave.
The menus created by head chef Ben Arthur are inspired by the beachy setting, not only in the choice of dishes – plenty of fish and seafood, natch – but also in the way they’re put together. There’s a freshness, a back to nature, sea breeze vitality about his creations.
I dive into a seafood risotto filled with bite-sized pieces of monkfish and brown shrimp. It has just the right amount of creamy depth and bite, along with a salty pepperiness which is helped by the addition of samphire and a scattering of coriander. It looks stunning with its vivid greens and wavey-whiteness.
Ben is one of Jamie Oliver’s original Fifteen, who then cheffed in Tuscany before returning to Fifteen in Cornwall. He took over at Fistral Beach towards the end of last year where he’s since been crafting menus to suit its refurbished flagship restaurant. This is a chef who really understands the Mediterranean culinary ethos and uses it to make our own South West produce shine.
Monkfish features again, this time with a rustic, richly flavoured serving of borlotti beans and rainbow chard, epitomising Ben’s feel-good food and how he embraces ingredients with confidence. And of course, with his Tuscan background, he’s pretty hot on pasta (always on the menu), so you can make like an Italian and go for a secondi piatti to share between starter and main.
Spacious and light with those beach views and a retro surfboard wall display, Dune is a beautiful place to dine and a nice contrast to the hotel’s mellow Bay Bar, where you can settle down with a post dinner coffee. Outside, the pinky glow of a sunset sky is gradually giving way to darkness. The tide has retreated and there are still some surfers bobbing around in the ocean as night falls and the evening comes to an end.