Visit the quaint harbour town of Padstow in Cornwall and you’re likely to see a familiar name wherever you look; Rick Stein. He has a patisserie, a deli, a gift shop and fishery not to mention the bistro, the cafe and the fish and chip shop along with 40 rooms and self catering accommodation. During our food laden holiday to Cornwall we decided to pay his well known Seafood Restaurant a visit.
The restaurant was huge and extremely bright and airy with vibrant and varied art hanging on the walls. White tablecloths covered the tables yet it didn’t feel posh or stuffy. There was a large no reservation seafood bar right in the middle of the room where you could watch chefs assembling platters of oysters and so on.
The menu isn’t cheap but that’s something you may expect from a fish restaurant right by the sea that serves the freshest possible fish. I ordered from the a la carte whereas my gentleman companion ordered from the set lunch menu priced at £29.95 for three courses.
To start I opted for the scallops baked in their shell with carrots, celeriac, leek and vouvray (£14.50). This is a recipe from Rick’s first ever cook book and I loved the presentation. The scallop shells had been welded together with some beautifully buttery pastry. The waitress then prized them open to reveal some sliced scallops that had been cooked to utter perfection. The smell was incredible. They were so fresh, light and delicate I was in fishy heaven. Using the pastry (which was some of the finest I’ve ever had) to soak up the sauce that was left behind was just divine.
My gentleman companion went for the Porthilly mussels, with yellow kroeung, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves which also had a wonderfully enticing aroma. The mussels were plump and juicy and perfectly steamed. The fragrant curry sauce was delicious and we both used the house bread to mop it up once the mussels had been devoured.
For main course I decided to go wild and order the large whole Dover sole (£41). After all I was on holiday! It had been chargrilled with sea salt and lime and was served alongside a tangy bearnaise-esque sauce which was superb. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another piece of fish like it again in my life – it was simply phenomenal. The flesh was so thick it was almost meaty yet it was still soft and delicate. Luckily I remembered everything my Dad taught me about how to fillet a Dover sole and I did so without leaving a single bone in – phew!
My gentleman companion’s grilled hake was simply presented but was still really flavourful. The fish was the star of the show here and the chef let it do all the talking. A side dish was needed though so my gentleman companion ordered some spinach with nutmeg (£3.50) as an accompaniment.
For pudding I opted for the passion fruit pavlova with creme chantilly (£8.90) which wasn’t cheap considering it’s a bit of cream, meringue and passion fruit. That said it was absolutely incredible. Such simple flavours perfectly executed. The meringue had a crisp exterior which gave way to the chewiest of chewy centres. I loved everything about it.
My gentleman companion went for the chocolate pecan pie with clotted cream, chocolate and vanilla creme anglaise. It was a hearty pudding and the warm pecan pie was rich and unctuous. It was sweet, it was sticky and it was lovely!
Our lunch at The Seafood Restaurant wasn’t a particularly cheap one and if we’d ordered wine and really gone to town we could have easily spent a small fortune but for what we ordered we did feel it was totally worth it. Service defrosted throughout our meal and by the end our waitress was very charming indeed and it was safe to say we left with a spring in our step. I shall have memories of that wonderful Dover sole for months to come!