As lovers of the seaside who live in the land-locked Midlands, there’s nothing Mr M and I like more than a jaunt to the seaside, and Cornwall has become one of our favourite places. We used to gravitate to the north coast, but last year discovered the other side of the peninsula near St Austell, mainly because of a fab campsite in the Pentewan Valley that allows dogs, yet no children. 🙂
While camping is mainly about cooking barbecues and drinking wine around a campfire, at The Meadows there also happens to be a rather fabulous pub not too far away. The Polgooth Inn is just down the road, made super handy by the Pentewan Valley cycle trail. Wander up a few lanes and there it is – a traditional building with nicely-sized beer garden, great views, and some pretty darn good food.
We’d only had snacks on a previous visit, but this time we opted for full main meals. We decided to sit outside, something they’re obviously geared to, with a collection of menus, sauces, cutlery, and even a pile of snuggle blankets, all piled up by the porch for outside diners.
The menu itself is a fairly typical pub menu, with something for everyone. There’s some sharing platters, plenty of fresh fish reminding you you’re by the coast, and some good ol’ classics that, while fairly run-of-the-mill, are often hard to resist. So, as the sun went down over the Polgooth Inn, we swathed ourselves in warm blankets, grabbed a pint of cider, and settled down for some scran.
To start, Mr M and I opted to share the Polgooth Fisherman’s Platter – hand cut breaded squid rings, smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade, and St Austell beer battered red mullet, all served with artisan bread, sweet chilli dip and tartare sauce. The squid was tender and tasty, a coup considering it’s so often overcooked, especially when breaded or battered. The red mullet was flaky and light, encased in crisp, fresh batter. Plus the bonus of having battered fish in your starter is that you satisfy that seaside holiday fish’n’chip craving and still get to pick something different for your main. The smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade was nice enough, but nothing to write home about. I love smoked salmon but it was somewhat overwhelmed by a LOT of cream cheese. Nice, but nothing you couldn’t buy from the supermarket.
Our fellow diners had a range of starters. Smoked mackerel, brandy and dill pate was tasty, without too much of a brandy taste, to their relief. I enjoyed a taste of the ‘Delicately spiced tikka scallops’, which were exactly that. Light tikka spice, decent-sized scallops, cooked well, and a tasty-enough minted yoghurt.
A goats cheese and chive tartlet with served with bearnaise sauce was pretty as a picture, as well as tasty, with interesting flavour combinations made by the sauce that is so often served with steak.
For main course, Mr M couldn’t resist the ‘MAN ONLY smoky pork rib’. Yeah, he likes pork rib, but I think the driving force behind this choice was the name, especially since he’d had a few ciders. The hefty rib came with a thick, rich barbecue sauce, some potato wedges and celeriac coleslaw. The pork was tender and tasty, providing the mess that the menu promised. Mr M would have been happy, as usual, having just this, but I can vouch for the decent wedges and coleslaw as perfectly adequate accompaniments.
I went for the Polgooth’s ‘Amazing Fish Pie’. It’s been years since I’ve had fish pie, but since it was slightly chilly this gave me a chance to take advantage of the fish that was available, while having a bit of a warming dinner. It was everything I hoped – a crispy, still-slightly-bubbling cheesy mash, covering a heavenly mess of salmon, white fish and crab in a creamy white wine sauce. If I’m honest I couldn’t really taste the crab, but the chunks of salmon and white fish more than made up for it. No hard-to-recognise weirdness masquerading as some kind of seafood, but actual real pieces of fish. The sauce was rich and creamy, without being a tasteless school dinner-style mess out of a packet. It came with a side salad as well as some fresh bread and while the former was a nice simple addition, the latter for me was unnecessary on top of a such a filling dish.
Our friends tried various different main courses. The whole tail scampi was apparently fine (can you go wrong with scampi?) and the soy and ginger stir fried shredded pork fillet was said to be very nice, as was a special of battered sea bream with mediterranean vegetables.
The winner sounds like it was the smoked salmon and mint pea fish cakes, homemade at the Polgooth and served with a warm chive hollandaise sauce. It certainly looked lovely, and apparently tasted great. Fish and pea always goes well together and the fishcakes were described as light and tasty, and a cut above the average. I can testify to a rather good hollandaise sauce, mopped up by me with someone else’s leftover chips.
After that lot, we rejected dessert in favour of another drink before wobbling home back down the lanes to the campsite. With main courses priced at £10-15, and starters at £5-10, it’s more than reasonable, especially for the quality you get. The food is fresh and while some dishes are standard pub fare (nothing wrong with that in my opinion when it’s priced well and does what it says on the tin), several dishes shone out as clearly homemade. The location is great, the service good, and it certainly gets my vote as a fab holiday dinner or lunch stop.
Have you found any great places while on holiday? Do tell me, so I can a) plan another holiday, and b) plan more holiday food!
We paid in full for our meal at the Polgooth Inn. They didn’t know I was a blogger or that I planned to write about our food.