Starting the decade with a flurry of restaurant openings, Cornwall is squaring up to London in the battle for Britain’s culinary crown. Kathryn Lewis rings the bell on the most exciting new contenders
The Ethicurean, near Padstow
For over ten years, field-to-fork purists have made pilgrimages to the Mendip Hills to delight in dishes crafted from The Ethicurean’s Victorian walled garden. And now they’ll have another culinary journey to embark on as the brothers behind the Somerset restaurant have opened a second venue, this time near Padstow.
Matthew and Iain Pennington took over the 80-cover space above Trevibban Mill Vineyard in early spring, picking up the baton from chef Andy Appleton. With panoramic views over the north Cornwall vineyard and beyond, the restaurant provides an inspiring setting for Matthew and Iain’s ethically focused food.
Seasonal veg is king in this kitchen and Cornish fish and locally reared meat its loyal subjects. The tasting menu is the best way to sample the spectrum of ancient cooking crafts (including lacto-fermentation, curing, pickling and smoking) for which The Ethicurean is known. Pair it with the Trevibban wine flight for the ultimate gourmet experience (pictured above).
Appleton’s Bar & Restaurant, Fowey
Fowey has long been a favourite with gastrophiles but, following a surge of exciting openings over the past year, the tiny seaside town has become the place to eat and drink in Cornwall in 2020.
Andy and Lyndsey Appleton’s new restaurant on Fore Street is one of the fresh establishments to bolster Fowey’s position on the foodie leaderboard (also check out Fitzroy a few of doors down). The couple crowdfunded £21,000 to relocate Appleton’s from Trevibban Mill Vineyard on the north coast; their combination of relaxed, welcoming hospitality and rustic Italian cooking winning them a legion of fans who helped make it happen.
Plan a Saturday night trip to work through the list of smart cocktails and Andy’s unique dishes (pictured below) which blend Italian and South West food cultures, then return next morning to sample the Sunday brunch menu (peanut butter waffles with buttermilk fried chicken and maple syrup butter, anyone?).
The Cove Restaurant & Bar, Maenporth
If you can’t wait until summer to road-test Michael Caines’ hotly anticipated new casual dining spot on Exmouth seafront, hotfoot it to Maenporth where the Michelin starred chef has just added another establishment to his growing empire.
Taking over The Cove Restaurant & Bar at the start of the year, Michael and team rolled out a light refurbishment before welcoming back holidaymakers, families and locals to the popular beachside eatery. Situated a couple of coves down the coast from Falmouth, the hidden- away haunt has long been an insider’s fave for summer sundowners and crowd-pleasing cooking.
Under Michael’s guidance, a new daytime brasserie menu makes good use of local meat, fish and vegetables, while the evening line-up provides the chance to try some of his signature dishes via à la carte and tasting menus.
THE PIG, at Harlyn Bay
There’s no arguing that THE PIG’s first opening in Cornwall is going to be a huge hit with the city set who already know and love the micro-chain’s ‘lifestyle restaurants with rooms’ along the south coast. So, if you’re keen to bag a bed before the summer crowds descend, we’d recommend prebooking ahead of the opening in May.
Housed in a Grade II-listed mansion on the north Cornwall coast, THE PIG at Harlyn Bay is perfectly positioned for a greedy weekend away. Not only will the hotel host its own restaurant stocked by a kitchen garden, and a Lobster Shed for relaxed alfresco dining, it’s also a mere 10-minute drive to the culinary lights of Padstow and just a short jaunt across the estuary to Rock.
Kota Kuki, Carnon Downs
Big-time foodies will already be familiar with Jude Kereama’s Asian- influenced cooking – if not first-hand at one of his two Porthleven restaurants (Kota and Kota Kai) then via BBC’s Great British Menu in which the chef has represented the South West in three series.
Kota Kuki is Jude’s latest venture and the Carnon Downs restaurant blends the best bits of his other two much-loved venues. Naturally, locally caught fish and seafood dominate the menus, with Kota Kai-esque small plates bolstering the lunchtime bill before evening service welcomes the kind of relaxed fine-dining dishes you’d expect at Kota.
While the new restaurant (located within a luxury holiday complex of five-star cottages and apartments) only opened at the end of March, Jude is already working on his next project: a bottle shop selling wines, Sharp’s beers and Vicky’s Bread. It’ll open next door to Kota Kuki soon.
Ben’s Kitchen, at 27 The Terrace, St Ives
Longstanding fans of Ben’s Cornish Kitchen were crestfallen when the much- loved Marazion restaurant suddenly closed in October last year. Happily, the heartbreak didn’t last long as chef patron Ben Prior announced plans for a fresh incarnation of the restaurant at the start of 2020.
Working with Mick Smith of Porthminster Beach Café, Ben has transplanted the pared-back seasonal cooking that won the hearts of seasoned foodies (including Jay Rayner) to this restaurant with rooms in St Ives. In tune with the current climate, the award winning chef is also adopting a more sustainable approach to his menus and cutting kitchen waste.
For Ben, wine is as important as food and at 27 The Terrace he’s curated a list of some of South Africa’s finest bottles. Look out for regular wine tasting dinners with SA producers and other local chefs.