A trip to Cornwall’s handsomest harbour town, Padstow, and you have to visit Paul Ainsworth’s Michelin-starred No.6. Finer food in Cornwall might be hard to find. The restaurant has also undergone a rather gorgeous renovation and there’s a new bar upstairs which is perfect, as we find out, for a glass of bubbles before your meal.
The dining room, with its greys walls and leather chairs, feels more grown up than before. We’re seated under the glass-covered roof of the old courtyard, opposite a window into the kitchen which is lots of fun.
Home baked bread kicks things off and it comes with two types of butter (the caramelised one is a particular highlight) and whipped cod’s roe topped with crackling crumbs. We devour all three.
“Jacob’s ragu alla bolognese” (£14) is a rich little thing. Jacob refers to the cut of beef, Jacob’s ladder, which is the short rib. The cubes of slow cooked, fatty meat are so full of flavour, partly because of the red wine-rich sauce. Refined comfort food indeed.
Smoked haddock quiche Lorraine (£16) comes with a foam so bubbly it’s mesmerising. For added luxury there’s a huge mound of caviar on top. At the bottom, a light and buttery pastry case adds texture to the soft fish.
As an extra from the kitchen, we’re kindly brought an innocent looking mound of raw scallop, kimchi style cabbage and gentleman’s relish, which is a type of anchovy paste. It might look fairly ordinary but the blend of sharp and salty flavours is most marvellous.
For main, my gentleman companion goes for the fish of the day (Cornish monkfish) which is a glorious piece of fish, elevated by an even more glorious bouillabaisse sauce. Could easily drink a pint glass of that stuff. Jack crab topped with oyster leaf is a light and delicate addition.
Aged soy glazed duck (£34) is SUCH a well balanced plate of food. Chunks of expertly cooked duck – all pink flesh and crisp, rendered skin – comes with a peking tea and bowl of salad with tweezers. The tea is salty and rich while the crisp leaves and cucumber stop it from being overkill. Easily the best thing I’ve eaten all year.
For dessert, “a trifle Cornish” (£12) is a strawberry/hibiscus/saffron combo of loveliness. The real star however is a chocolate disc made of 100% Michel Cluizel chocolate (£12). Senior sous chef, Chris McClurg, a rather charming Northern Irish chap, pours over a warm Caramac sauce which melts through to the olive oil sponge and pistachios. It’s pure heaven.
I’ve eaten at No.6 a few times now and each time it gets better and better. But it’s the renovation that makes a meal here even more exciting now. And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, Paul has also opened Padstow Townhouse just up the road, which has 6 gorgeous suites. All this making Padstow quite the destination.
Would we go back? Yes.