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The St Enodoc Hotel, ROCK, Wadebridge, PL27 6LA
Such is Nathan Outlaw's enduring affection for Cornwall, its landscapes, produce and people, that he has put down deep roots here. It's a long slog to London to do a TV slot on Saturday Kitchen, but he has weathered the challenge of running a fine-dining destination restaurant at Rock (plus Outlaw's Seafood & Grill here and now at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge) with the media demands our modern culinary masters face, and managed it better than most. The St Enodoc Hotel is a sparely elegant contemporary refuge, with natural hues from slate floors and solid wood, the neutrality of which avoids detracting from the sumptuous views over the Camel Estuary. The dining room has a monochrome look, but a gentle rather than stark one, and offers porthole peeps of the kitchen activity at one end. The fixed-menu drill continues to be refined and elaborated: now six fish dishes, followed by cheese and a brace of desserts, it's an even-paced gastronomic experience to write home about. Some of the dishes may seem familiar if you're lucky enough to be a regular, but there is actually a creative degree of remixing going on, whereby accompaniments are tried out with different principals, and the same species may appear cooked one night and raw the next. A slice of uncooked turbot is scented with basil and orange, before the famous soused mackerel appears, perhaps simply garnished with cucumber and dill this time. Proper tartare dressing, all punchy acidity, adorns full-flavoured roast cod for your third course, followed by scallops along with a fried oyster, hazelnuts and watercress. Next, red mullet benefits from a Mediterranean treatment, with squid, tomato and paprika, and as if all that weren't enough, your sixth course might be a light spin on bouillabaisse, comprising sea bass, gurnard and brill in Porthilly sauce, a smooth amalgam of mussels and clams from the nearby bay. Excellent south-western cheeses provide the bridgehead to desserts, perhaps burnt gooseberry and ginger custard, and then caramelised bread-and-butter pudding with raspberries. The wine choices served optionally with the menu are inspirational, worth the extra outlay for Koshu from Japan, Pecorino from eastern Italy and Canadian ice wine, via the local Camel Valley Pinot Noir sparkler, of course.
Days closed: Sun-Mon
Dates closed: Xmas, Jan
Days closed for lunch: all week
Cooking type: Modern British, Seafood
Chef: Nathan Outlaw, Chris Simpson
Number of seats: 22
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Vegetarian meals available.
No children under 12 yrs.
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The problem with dining more than once at a restaurant of the class of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is that one's treasury of superlatives becomes exhausted. When we ate there in June on the occasion of my wife's birthday we were quite clear that it was quite simply, a three-star, 10/10 dining experience. Staggeringly, this was just as true again this time.
Reviewer: acko_10, Winchester
Visited: 18 September 2013