Our recent summer holiday to Cornwall was a chance to do a bit of sightseeing and sunseeking, but probably most excitingly for me we wanted to sample some of the great food and produce that Cornwall has on offer and eat at some great restaurants along the way. Our first night in St Ives we booked to eat at the Porthminster Beach Cafe. After doing a bit of internet research this certainly seemed like a ‘not to miss’ whilst we were down there.
Idyllically set on Porthminster Beach, it is a lovely building with a gorgeous open air terrace with views over the beach and out to sea. Willing the good weather to make an appearance when I booked a few weeks before our visit I asked for a table on the terrace and, as luck would have it, it was a particularly spectacular evening. The whole town seemed elated (possibly a side effect of Andy Murrays’ Wimbeldon glory) and the atmosphere at the cafe was buzzing.
The menu was pretty comprehensive, and obviously very fish heavy ( has to be being in Cornwall with the amazing fish right on the doorstep) but also had enough meat and vegetarian options to suit everyone’s tastes. We had a small pre-starter of sage and anchovy fritters which were delightful.
A lovely quirky touch we felt when the bottle of wine arrived that in place of the wine coolers were colourful buckets filled with ice, more usually found making sandcastles, but a great talking point!
Starters wise I went for scallops whilst my hubby had mackerel. The scallops were hand dived and teamed with apple and bacon dust and cauliflower puree. None of these unusual combinations, but they were done very well and tasted great. This may seem clichéd, but they I definitely thought they tasted better, being fresher, than the ones I can get in Birmingham! Hubby also enjoyed his mackerel – unlike the scallops the flavours were more unusual with labna and spicy nuts as well as black mustard and lemon. Neither of us knew what labna was – but were reliably informed it was a middle eastern inspired strained yoghurt (whey removed).
Next up the main courses and we both went for one of the dishes off the specials menu. Lee went for Hake with a black pudding crust, hazelnuts, cauliflower, spinach, and a squid ink braised monkfish cheek while I had Seabass with crab fritter, pickled cucumber salad, chilli ponzu and caramelized lime leeks. I absolutely loved my dish, with a slight thai/asian slant , the pickled cucumber salad and chilli ponzu were amazing. Lee felt that there was too much going on with his plate and could have benefited from being a bit more refined and ‘calmed down’ a little. This did lead to a bit of discussion about choosing ‘specials’ off a menu – are they more likely to be not as good given the fact that they are not well honed and many times cooked dishes? The jury was out on that one.
The portion sizes from Porthminster were pretty generous, so we didn’t feel we could manage dessert. We did however notice some intriguing looking tree like structures being brought out to other tables and after closer inspection realised that these were petit fours. They looked great so we ordered some in place of dessert and these were one of the highlights of the meal. Two juicy jellies – pear and raspberry, two truffles – white choc and strawberry and Lemon and Geranium, and then some toasted lavender marshmallows – simply divine!
A great restaurant in a fantastic location, possibly at times trying to do a little too much with their great ingredients, sometimes less is more!
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own