In case you missed it (come on, how could you), we spent a delightful 12 days on Cornwall’s Roseland Peninsula in May. We walked, we boated, we relaxed and we ate. A LOT. Go anywhere in Cornwall and it’s great for food – from Padstow and it’s plethora of restaurants and big-name chefs to some of the lesser known towns turning out fresh fish galore against the backdrop of Cornwall’s coastal beauty.
We’ve been to the Roseland before – that time we treated ourselves to a tasting menu at Michelin-starred Driftwood and stumled upon the Nare Hotel on a stunningly sunny day. This time I went back with some serious plans to have as much food-filled fun as possible, and I’m pretty sure I managed that.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you’re planning a trip down to this part of the world, I’ve put together a few things you could do if, like me, your life revolves around eating and drinking. Be warned, you will come back having added a few pounds to your waistline and minused a few from your bank balance, but rest assured, it will be well worth it.
Treat yourself to lunch at the Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes
This hotel in St Mawes is owned by the Polizzi family – you know Alex Polizzi, the one of Hotel Inspector fame. Upstairs it has a gorgeous terrace overlooking the water where you can dine al fresco on some great food and enjoy a glass of something cold.
If the weather doesn’t oblige then they’ve got an indoor restaurant and a bar downstairs as well as the ‘dogs’ bar’ which, as the name suggests, is a dog-friendly snug-style lounge where you can enjoy a cosy meal on colder days.
Eat street food and drink wine at the Knightor Winery
I love a trip to a vineyard and fortunately for us, the Knightor Winery in St Austell also has a vineyard in Portscatho on the Roseland. They’ve cleverly opened up their space to Cornish street food specialists Craftworks, who were previously based in Truro but now have various pop-ups in Cornwall.
It was a bit windy when we visited but the huge barn has plenty of (dog-friendly) seating where you can tuck in to Craftworks menu of tacos, burgers and dirty fries, washed down with some of Knightor’s own wine or vermouth. We spent a fab few hours munching our way through beef brisket tacos, crab fries and burgers and may or may not have snuggled under blankets next to the ‘wall of wine’ to enjoy a chocolate brownie. What’s not to like?
Bag yourself some tickets for the Hidden Hut
I’ve written a whole blog post about the Hidden Hut, so I won’t go on, but if you’re nearby you should definitely try to get some tickets to one of their feast nights. It really is a wonderful experience. You may struggle, so don’t build a whole trip around the assumption that you’ll get tickets (they go on sale at the beginning of each month and are harder to get than tickets to Glastonbury) but it’s definitely worth a try.
Eat Al Fresco at the Nare Hotel
We found The Nare on our last trip to the Roseland and it’s another one that I’ve written about before on this blog. It calls itself a country house hotel by the sea and is the most beautiful setting to enjoy good food in a fairly traditional setting.
Sit on the terrace if it’s sunny and enjoy oysters, fresh fish, and great service, or retreat inside to their lounge where you can fill up on tea and cake snuggled in sofas with blankets.
Stock up on treats from Mr Scorse Gourmet Deli & Wines
Okay, these photos absolutely do not do justice to this wonderful gem of a deli. You could almost miss Mr Scorse Gourmet Deli in St Mawes but make sure you don’t. It’s packed full of everything from local cheese and chutneys to wine and possibly the best chocolate brownie I’ve ever had. Owner Jon is endlessly helpful and when we went in on a desperate hunt for a birthday cake for our friend, came up with the idea of using a slab of the aforementioned brownies in lieu of a crap victoria sponge.
We stocked up on a few cheeses for our homemade cheese board but you can sit outside the deli and enjoy a little platter right there, or takeaway sandwiches and hampers for a trip to the beach. If you’re in St Mawes make sure you don’t miss it.
Arrive in style at the Pandora Inn
To experience the Pandora Inn, ideally you want to try to find a boat and arrive by the water. I know, that sounds ridiculous. But it really is the stuff of Swallows and Amazons dreams. Potter around on the water, moor up on the pontoon and enjoy drinks overlooking the estuary and what is rather good gastro-pub grub, despite it being chaotically busy on any given sunny day.
Don’t worry, you can get there by car, or via a coast path, and I’d certainly recommend checking it out. You don’t get many settings like this.
Do a cookery course at Philleigh Way
I’ve told you about Philleigh Way and our epic Cornish Pasty making attempts. If you’re into cooking, or generally just having fun with friends that involves food, I can thoroughly recommend a few hours here. Rupert the owner is great and it seems to me that their calendar of courses, lessons and events is getting bigger by the minute. Check out their website here for more details and get yourself booked in to something. The Asado course is on my list to go back for!
Have yourself some fish and chips
It doesn’t matter where you do it. Just do it. Fish and chips tastes so much better by the sea. These we had from a pub in St Mawes and they were fab and there are a zillion other places to go.
Go back to the Hotel Tresanton for cocktails
Okay, I’ll say this now, the Hotel Tresanton is not the cheapest place to have a cocktail but they were bloody good and (in my view) worth the £10 price tag. We had ours on a cold day snuggled up in the dogs’ bar but I imagine they would go down even better sat up on the roof terrace. One for a special treat but well worth it.
Have a Michelin Star meal at the Driftwood
We didn’t go back to Driftwood this time but when we went a few years ago it proved to be one of the most memorable meals I’ve had. Maybe it’s the setting, or perhaps the food which is precision personified. Either way, you should try it if you can.
Head chef Chris Eden got his first Michelin star in 2012 and it still has one. He’s all about top quality, local ingredients using produce sourced from as close to the restaurant as possible. Add that to an obsessive attention to detail and it’s a meal to remember.
Drink Rattler in the harbour at Mylor
Another one if you manage to get your hands on a boat. Mylor is a huge yachting harbour complete with yacht club and a lovely little bar called Castaways. It’s a great place to sit with a pint of Rattler (if you haven’t had this Cornish cider you absolutely should) and watch the sailing fraternity do their thing.
The food’s pretty tasty too. I had a lovely seafood stew that was beautifully seasoned and served with homemade bread and I have it on good authority that the fish and chips is pretty good too.
Buy some fresh fish and cook up a storm
When produce is this good, why wait for someone else to cook it for you? We were lucky enough that the gorgeous campsite we stayed at (Trethem Mill Touring Park – check it out) has a fish van arrive once a week. In my head Jamie and I were a bit like kids when they hear the ice-cream van is in the neighbourhood, hot-footing it past other campers to make sure we didn’t miss out.
As much as we could have bought everything the guy had, we decided to opt for some voluptuous-looking monkfish tail. Lucky for us, it was the same day we headed off the Philleigh Way for our pasty-making course so we got some tips from Rupert on how to cook it and used some of the leftover veg from the pasties, plus stock, clotted cream and plenty of seasoning to whip up this monkfish stew. I say we…clearly Jamie did it.
Find a street food festival
Given how food-focused Cornwall is, chances are you’ll find some kind of food event wherever you are. While we were in the Roseland, Falmouth was having a street food festival so we got the ferry over from St Mawes to work our way round all the Cornish street food we could.
A highlight was definitely the sea bass thai yellow curry from Katie’s Cornish Hotpots, though the churros with salted caramel sauce also nearly stole the show.
We paid in full for all of these foodie treats and they didn’t know I was a blogger.