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Star and Garter, Falmouth

March 2, 2016 No Comments

Last week we recommended Falmouth’s ‘The Star and Garter’ as the perfect place for Easter lunch. There’s a reason for that: it’s our new favourite foodie haunt.

Opening in August of last year, we were a little dubious at first – The old Star and Garter used to host a pretty mean jazz night and was pretty legendary in its own right – but were won over as soon as we sat down to a lunch of seafood linguine one autumn afternoon. The décor hits the right balance between vintage and modern, but its stand out features are the windows that stretch across the back wall offering an unparalleled view of the river.

The Star and Garter

The Star and Garter has a rich history, having been open since 1892, so new landlords, Elliot and Becca Thompson, have taken on a thick slice of Falmouth’s culture. In fact, if they hadn’t stepped in, it would likely have become a block of flats.

Being a trained chef, Elliot could well have stepped into the kitchen himself, but their kitchen is bursting with talent, manned as it is with three chefs from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. They have a lot of toys to play with too. An open-plan kitchen contains a ceramic bbq, pickling area and butchery room. So you know that there’s a lot of love and fun going into the food.

Seafood Linguine

There’s ideology to go with the expertise. ‘We have a strong ethic about our food, respect the animals and produce we use. We waste nothing – properly subscribing to the ‘nose to tail’ philosophy,’ Elliot has told Cornwall Living magazine. They do all their own butchery, make their own sausage meat and are always smoking or brining things.

The View From The Star and GarterCornish Holiday Cottage’s first experience of their home butchery was when we shared a platter of venison with friends one evening. Huge, roughly hewn chunks of venison melted in our mouths, accompanied with roasted fennel and a rich jus. Our window seat looked out over the Falmouth estuary and the lights of Flushing twinkled across the water. The atmosphere was buzzing.

You do have to be warned though: the menu is never going to be what you expect. Everyday there’s something different going on and they’re not afraid to experiment. Wood pigeon may be on the menu one night, a rabbit ragu at lunch time, so you definitely need to go in with an open mind. They make their own pork pies, scotch eggs and things do run out – so get there for an early sitting in the evenings.

Sunday Roast

We last visited the Star and Garter for Sunday lunch and luckily we had booked. People that turned up on the day were all sadly turned away. What set The Star and Garter’s roast apart was the seriously seasonal veg and the detailed preparation behind each joint of meat. The beef was a succulent medium rare with a delicate smokiness, whilst the pork was slow roasted to the point where it was more shredded than sliced. Chard cabbage, roasted beetroot, crisp high rise Yorkshire puddings and Beef fat roast potatoes offered a crispiness on a par with anything we’ve ever managed to cook ourselves.

The only complaint we’d have about the Star and Garter is that we wanted, no needed, more.

Restaurant Review – Rick Stein’s, Porthleven

February 19, 2016 No Comments

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It’s the tail end of Hurricane Imogen when we venture down to Porthleven to celebrate a family wedding anniversary. And what’s a better way to celebrate such an occasion than heading down Rick Stein Porthleven? The latest addition to his Cornish Empire.

 

As we drive over the brow of the hill, undulating mountains of water blow in from the – a key reminder of the power of the ocean. Porthleven is the perfect place to sit and watch the elements battle it out. Maybe that’s why it features so heavily in the national newspapers at this time of year.

 
Rick Stein’s is set in the old white walled China Clay Building on the edge of the harbour and it’s a fantastic spot for a restaurant. As we approach, the outside is bathed in a bright blue light which looks a little out of place with the old stone harbour and more in keeping with an 80s cocktail bar. Entering the building, the first thing you see is the open kitchen, great if you’re the sort that likes to take a sneak peek at your food being prepared.

 
Having hung our coats up we enter the bar area, which is decked out with wooden barrels, quirky vintage light fittings and a smidgen more blue lighting. There’s also a painting of a naked surfer on the wall. It’s more than a little out of place.

 
The menu looks great. We know what to expect from Rick Stein by now: a mixture of British and Spanish dishes with the occasional safely Asian dish thrown in.

Sardines with an oat crumb

 

To start with there are Mounts Bay grilled sardines with an oat crumb which have a salty succulence paired with a mellowing oat crumb. I go for the classic fish soup with lashings of parmesan and a generous helping of crisp croutons. But the winner in the first course stakes goes to the fried calamari. Unlike the battered and bread crumbed varieties that are all the rage, these are served naked and on a bed of salad that’s very South East Asian in flavour: sweet, spicy and nutty all at the same time.

Fish and Chips

 

Into the main course, I opt for the boring; fish and chips. I know, I know, but there’s just something about a batter that’s truly crisp, the cod steaming away inside, with beef dripping chips and generous helpings of mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce. Sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple. Two of us have the Indonesian seafood curry. One telling us it’s quite spicy, the other that it’s a tad mild. It must be just right then. We also have the Gnocchi con Granseola, a Venetian dish pairing the gnocchi with spider crab and an Eastern Europe spiced sauce. I try and sample everything from everyone’s plate, all in the name of research, but not everyone is willing to part with their food.

Chocolate pavé

 

The dessert menu calls shortly after and there’s are some interesting selections to make. I go for a popcorn panna cotta with caramel shards. It’s texture is creamy, but even without the crunchy texture you associate with popcorn, the buttery flavour shines through. We also opt for the chocolate pavé, salted caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce. It’s a rich, gooey treat that goes down well with everyone.

 

As we leave, we’re once again bathed in the techno glow of the blue lighting. A reminder or the odd décor. But don’t let that put you off. The food has that unmistakable Stein’s quality to it – from the fish and chips through to the gnocchi – and gets the Cornish Holiday Cottages seal of approval.

The Wheelhouse

August 21, 2015 No Comments

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Right in the middle of Falmouth’s town centre there is an alleyway that leads through an archway and down to the water. The alley has a name – Upton Slip – and at the end of the slip, staring up at you with piercing eyes is a ship’s figurehead. Amy of the Amazon she’s called and she stands six feet tall. Next to this giant figurehead there’s a terracotta coloured building with a bright blue doorway. Within lies Falmouth’s worst kept secret: The Wheelhouse.

When The Wheelhouse first opened, word of mouth spread like juicy gossip or a perfectly executed social media campaign and within weeks of opening they were fully booked up to a month ahead. They weren’t even trying – in fact they were doing their best to remain hidden. Fat chance. It’s even in The Guardian’s top ten budget eats in Cornwall.

Eating at The Wheelhouse is like eating in someone’s farmhouse kitchen – there are large wooden tables supplemented with old sewing tables and whatever else they could get their hands on. There are candles stuffed into wine bottles and a pile of mismatched plates piled in the middle of the table. The staff are friendly, as if they are welcoming you into their home, but none of this feels forced or contrived. If there’s two of you, or fifteen the treatment is the same.

The menu is skeletal – or should I say a shell of a menu – and is perfect for it. Unless you hate seafood that is. But balls to you, if you don’t. I think I can list the whole menu from memory, so here goes: crab – brown, spider or velvet; shell on prawns with garlic, ginger and chili; mussels in a white wine sauce; mussels in a red Thai sauce, oysters and scallops. Then there are the sides: salad and chips. Done, that’s the lot. It’s all on a blackboard above the counter. The crab are numbered and this number is replaced every time one is ordered, 9, then 8, then 7… The scallops are especially good. They come served in shells and with a sweet and tangy sauce that I’ve not been able to replicate.

It’s a place for sharing and getting your hands dirty. It’s a place for tearing, cracking and snapping and brushing elbows with each other. In other words, it’s an eating experience as opposed to just another restaurant. The atmosphere is special and I’ve never heard anyone complain about the place – unless they are complaining that it doesn’t open enough.

As far Cornish Holiday Cottages are concerned, The Wheelhouse is pretty much a holiday must. So, when you’re planning your next trip to Cornwall, put a trip to The Wheelhouse right at the top of your wish list and book it right after booking with us.

 

 

 

New Yard Restaurant – Trelowarren

December 13, 2014 No Comments

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You don’t end up at the New Yard Restaurant by mistake. Set deep in the heart of the Trelowarren Estate, on The Lizard, you’ve got to either want to be there, or be extremely lost. Cornish Holiday Cottages were there by no accident.

The sprawling and beautiful estate once spanned 20,000 acres – now a meagre 1,000 – and has been in the Vyvyan family for 600 years.  From the Helford River to the cusp of Goonhilly Downs, there’s a lot of history to Trelowarren, some beautiful woodland walks and an archaeological treasure in an Iron Age fogou.

The New Yard Restaurant is housed in an old coach house, but the restaurant itself almost has the feel of a Raymond Chandler novel. With large black and white tiles on the floor and repurposed anglepoise lamp heads hanging from the ceiling, there’s a monochrome, but sophisticated ambience.

The current menu reflects this fashion savvy interior, but somehow retains the sense of heritage that comes with an English Estate. Head Chef, Max, is a keen forager and the restaurant is well stocked from the larder of local produce: there are oysters from the Helford River; fish and shellfish caught by local dayboats; game from the estate; fruit and herbs from local farmers, too. Everything, including the bread, is freshly made on site.

We started our lunch-time meal with a miso broth, seaweed, wild mushrooms and tofu. There was no tofu though. The friendly, informal waiting staff apologised for this but they really didn’t need to, as it was delicious without it. The broth had a warming saltiness to it and a hint of seaweed added a certain sweetness to the flavour.

For our main course we had Cornish Crab, pumpkin and parmesan macaroni, which did a fantastic job of blending the lightness of the crab and pumpkin with the rich parmesan.

We also had slow roasted pheasant leg with a pheasant black pudding parcel, from the specials board. The bird must have been sourced onsite as I even found a piece of shot. That in no way detracted from the dish though, as it was an outstanding and original dish, served with creamed leeks and baby onions. I can’t express how delicious the black pudding parcel was.

From there, we at Cornish Holiday Cottages, just managed to squeeze in a dessert between two of us. A hot chocolate pudding with figs and home made honey ice cream. It was a beautifully decedent lunch. One that would be best coupled with a long, long walk in the woods.

Hunky Dory, Falmouth

November 17, 2014 No Comments

hunkey dorey

Nestled between an artisan coffee shop and a curry house lies Hunky Dory.   Outside, the grade II listed frontage is modernised by the sky blue signage, modest in comparison to the many glass-fronted eateries that dominate Falmouth’s Arwenack Street.

This is where we spent a quiet Tuesday night this week. A night in which the pavement outside Hunky Dory gathered so much water, the road split open as if a mini earthquake was upon us.

Wooden beams run through the ceilings of the small, intimate rooms of Hunky Dory, supported by sturdy, old pillars that give the place the feel of an old cottage.

Hunky Dory aims to give a modern take on British food with French and Italian influences: hogs pudding scotch eggs accompanying a Cornish belly pork anyone; A Wild Mushroom and Davidstow Cheddar Soufflé, perhaps? With ingredients sourced locally, the head chef obviously has fun creating dishes.

Boasting a well stocked bar, Hunky Dory are keeping it local. There are sparkling wines from Camel Valley, the artisan ales from the Rebel Brewery and cider and fruit juices from Cornish Orchards.

Most mains are priced between £14 and £23, but during the week and between 6 and 7 at the weekend, they offer two courses for £16 or three for £19.

We started off with arancini, Thai fish cakes and a potted ham hock with mustard butter. I can’t speak for the quality of the hock or the fish cakes, but the arancini were crispy and accompanied with a delicious homemade pesto – which is definitely something I’ll now try at home.

We followed our starters with whole Cornish plaice and a confit Cornish duck leg. The plaice came draped in a crab and Pernod butter, which was almost the best thing on the plate. The duck was perfectly cooked with the meat flaking from the bone and into the Cointreau gravy. We all pushed our knives and forks together content.

That didn’t mean that we couldn’t find some room for dessert. I finished my meal with a plum and hazelnut crumble, which balanced the tart nature of the fruit with the warm, nuttiness of the topping.

We left happy people. The earth may have cracked open while we were inside Hunky Dory, but, inside its cosy , country cottage-like shelter, we hadn’t even noticed.

 

 

Cornwall: In The Know – The Wheel House

July 4, 2014 No Comments

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So well known for its seafood they don’t even have a website!

Just local seafood, cooked simply and served with bread and fries. The Wheel House has queues of people waiting to eat there so if you’re planning a trip to Falmouth book in advance.

The Wheel House is the number 1 restaurant in Falmouth on Tripadvisor, with Olivers number 2.

Call 01326 318050 for reservations.

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Cornwall: In The Know – Olivers

April 2, 2014 No Comments

olivers chicken

Up the old High Street in central Falmouth is ‘Olivers’, one of the best restaurants in town. At lunch you will always find the same lady in a big hat eating in the window and if you could eat there every day, then I’m sure you would too.

Creating beautiful plates of food from seasonal local produce is Ken in the kitchen and his wife Wendy who is the perfect hostess, helping you choose from all the delicious dishes.

They are open Tuesday – Saturday, for lunch and dinner. Lunch is a bargain at £8.95 for one course, £13.95 for two, or £18.95 for three courses.

Be sure to book early (as much as 4 weeks before) as this place is very popular with the locals.

For more information on to see a sample menu have a look at their website

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