6 Middle Street, PADSTOW, PL28 8AP
The little Georgian townhouse with blinds at the windows is hidden away within the narrow streets of the town, though whether anything about Padstow remains entirely concealed these days is open to doubt. A very efficient job of pouring a quart into a pint pot has been made of the interior remodelling here, with three little dining spaces on the ground floor and one upstairs. Tables are squeezed in fairly close, but not half as tightly packed as the tourist throngs outside. In any case, it's the kind of environment where, despite the quirky decorative approach, the surroundings are only a small part of the point. Paul Ainsworth, resident here since 2008 and familiar to viewers of The Great British Menu, is one of the southwest's defining chefs, adroitly marshalling tip-top local produce and technical wizardry in bold, vivid, assertively characterful dishes that get you talking as you taste. Ideas come thick and fast, and don't just remain ideas, but achieve triumphant vindication on the plate (or board, or whatever their means of conveyance is). A marine spin on a Scotch egg delivers panko-crumbed smoked haddock forcemeat wrapped around a soft-boiled quail's egg (really don't try this at home), garnished with slices of Charles MacLeod's excellent Stornoway black pudding and a couple of blobs of coronation-style mayonnaise. Fish remains supreme at main stage, with cod confit in olive oil alongside 'bubbles' of cod beignet, two shades of cauliflower, and relishes of puréed raisin and curried yoghurt, while meats might offer moorland lamb with hogget pie and salsa verde, or saddleback pork with its crackling, cider apple and a scallop for good measure. Dessert may be more than you bargained for, both for quantity, and for its palette of textures and tastes - perhaps chocolate mousse and sliced banana with spun sugar in pastry layers, with a peanut croquant and passionfruit sorbet rammed solid with concentrated fruit flavour.
Tel: 01841 532093
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Days closed: Sun-Mon (excl BH Sun)
Dates closed: 24-26 Dec, 14 Jan-4 Feb
Days closed for lunch: 1 May
Cooking type: Modern British
Chef: Paul Ainsworth
Number of seats: 46
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Steps for wheelchair: 1
Vegetarian meals available.
No children under 4 yrs.
A La Carte Dinner Main Course from: £28.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.