Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

Dog, fish and sips – a week of food and drink in Cornwall – UPDATED

With Christmas and New Year’s Eve (the latter the most over hyped celebration of the year) out the way and the wet and windy month of January seemingly never ending, my thoughts (and those of many others, I suspect) turn to holidays (bombarded as we are with holiday ads on the telly).

As I have two dogs, booking a holiday anywhere is not as easy as it sounds. With dogs and holidays, you generally have the options of kennels, family (if local and amenable) or a holiday in the UK.

We did take one of ours to Spain on the boat (Plymouth to Santander), but it was a bit of a faff (with the rabies inoculation, getting to a vet in Spain in the quite restrictive window you have before you get back on the boat and the dog seemingly having more luggage than us).

Kennels add considerably to the cost of a holiday and I have to walk away from these faces (guilt ridden) and then worry about them the whole holiday.

As a result last year we only holidayed in the UK, taking the dogs with us.

Whilst West Wales has some very dog friendly spots (seriously want to try the Stackpole Inn, with Matt Waldron now at the helm in the kitchen), we tend to go to southern Cornwall.

We usually stay in Porthleven, a lovely village with a surfeit of dog friendly places to eat, but fancied a change last year.

I was recommended Gonwin Manor Cottages (near St. Ives) by a friend (@AngieYWines on Twitter), who has impeccable tastes (being both a fine wine and dog lover).

Gonwin Manor Cottages are set in lovely grounds, with the ability to easily access (with wellies or walking boots) the rather fine Porthkidney beach and beyond (the dogs love a good beach) via the coastal path.

Both the grounds and the closest beach (Porthkidney) are dog friendly all year around.

In terms of food, when you are in a County that has over 650 miles of coastline it would be somewhat chirlish not to focus on pescaterian matters (although the meat and veg down that way is very good too) when dining out.

Below are details of some of the seafood and booze we had in dog friendly places on our last trip (hence the “Dog, fish and sips” title – quite pleased with that, being one of my less cringe worthy efforts)

The Seafood Bar, Falmouth.

A recommendation from the ever reliable font of foodie knowledge, Gourmet Gorro, this is a pearler of a place (or should that be plaice).

Beer (rather than wine) is the focus drinks wise, with it being owned by local Falmouth brewer Verdant Brewing Co. (who coincidentally are doing a “Tap Takeover” at Bubs here in Cardiff on the 16th January as part of the launch of their Double IPA).

I am not a huge beer drinker, but I understand that those in the know rate Verdant’s beers very highly.

The menu is, of course with the name, very fishy with a good spread of options based on small plates.

We pretty much had everything on the menu,

with the star of the show being the scallops.

Lovely plump numbers cooked on point.

On the booze front beer is king, with Verdant beers featuring heavily.

They also have some rather posh guest beers, a pretty decent house wine (Picpoul de Pinet – a wine with a great affinity to seafood)

and “not your usual soda suspects” soft drinks (for the poor drivers – nice to see a 1/3 of a pint option on this front).

I went for the rather pleasant (if probably boring in such exaltated company) easy drinking “There will be no intervals” number.

Lots of stone fruit and citrus to this beer, which paired well with the seafood dishes we had.

The place is resolutely dog friendly, with our pooches getting lots of attention and a couple of biscuits (which means they will love the place forever).

The place is tricky to find (down a side street), with limited covers (probably 20 tops, if that) and no bookings, but it is well worth a trip to Falmouth (if you are in Cornwall) for this place alone.

Address: 4 Quay St. Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3NN

Website: Click here

Scarlet Wines

Just down the road from the cottage we stayed in (between St. Ives and Hayle) was Scarlet Wines, a rather fine independent wine shop, cafe, deli and restaurant (a brisk 25 min. walk or 15 mins on the frequent bus service or 5 mins in the car),

with a very interesting selection of “off the beaten track” wines a and beers.

The wines can be bought to take away or drink in.

For the latter there is the option of a list (with bottle, carafe and by the glass options on most wines – what’s on it changes regularly)

or £8 corkage on any of the wines on the shelves.

The corkage option offers the chance to really fill your boots quality wise on the wine front and I was as happy as a pig in shit browsing the shelves for something to drink.

On a first visit (there were a few wine buying trips) we had a very nice Sierra de Gredos wine from Daniel Landi (£26 take out, £34 drink in), a wine that had shown very well at a Mystere Wine Club tasting earlier in the year.

A very elegant, high altitude, garancha wine that went well with the place’s Sunday lunch offering

Only took pics of the starters and cheese (latter already tucked into – school boy error), but both them and the roast beef dinner were very nice.

On a further visit we went with the standard menu which offers small plates, wood fire oven baked pizzas and platters

The fish platter was fair value (bit bread heavy) for £20,

with crispy salt and pepper squid the star of the show.

Lovely with a crisp vinho verde

Again the dogs were treated like honoured guest.

A wine lover’s paradise, this place was a firm favourite with all of us.

Address: The Old Forge, Griggs Quay, Hayle, Cornwall, TR27 6JG

Website: Click here

UPDATE: Just seen a post on Scarlet Wines website re this place saying that the deli/cafe side of the business is being taken over by the people behind Antoninis Italian Eatery in Hayle and will be badged the Old Forge from the start of Feb 2020. They are keeping it dog friendly, with wines supplied by Scarlet Wines, but the corkage policy will no longer apply. Scarlet Wines will continue with a wine shop for takeaways next door. Click here for more details.

Tolcarne Inn

A lovely little pub by the seawall in Newlyn specialising in seafood (got to when you are located in one of the UK’s largest fishing ports) based small plates, this place is now a firm fixture on any visit we make to southern Cornwall.

The “on the board” menu is always chock a block full of interesting locally sourced stuff.

This visit the stand out dish was some lovely salt cod fritters with punchy aioli.

Other dishes were all top notch and reasonably priced.

On the booze front there is a decent wine list,

with plenty of stuff on it to go with the seafood on offer. There are also local beers on tap.

I was driving, but took advantage of the locally produced Polgoon apple juice – as non alcoholic drinks go this was top notch.

The place is also handily located for a visit to Polgoon Vineyard, which produces some lovely wines (good restaurant also by all accounts – not tried personally as regrettably no dogs allowed).

Address: 9 Tolcarne Terrace, Newlyn, Cornwall, TR18 5PS

Website: Click here.

Portmeor Beach Cafe

St. Ives is very dog friendly with a number of the beaches open to dogs (October to Easter mainly) and lots of dog friendly pubs restaurants and cafes.

Portmeor beach (by the Tate Modern) has one such dog friendly place in the form of the Portmeor Beach Cafe,

which has a dog friendly covered patio area (fine in all but the most foul of weather – it bucketed it down on the day of our visit and we were fine).

The menu is quite fish orientated

but offers plenty of choice for veggies and meat eaters.

When in Cornwall you have to have a crab sarnie at some point and this was the place I had mine.

Nice, if a bit pricey at £12.50 (paying for location I think), I enjoyed this (good ratio of white to brown meat).

Mrs SF also enjoyed a hake dish here (better value than my crab sarnie I thought).

If you don’t have dogs this is a nice stop off before or after a visit to the Tate Modern (just behind it – not dog friendly). Added entertainment is to be had watching people learning to surf (it appears to be a very hard thing to master), with the beach having a surf school. Being close to terminally clumsy, I am pretty sure I would be absolutely useless at it.

Address: Porthmeor Beach, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1JZ.

Website: Click here

Others

Porthminster Beach Cafe (in St. Ives) is dog friendly and was a pleasant 30 minute stroll on the coastal path from our cottage

It has a fully enclosed and heated (in winter) terrace area that is open to dogs.

We only had a coffee, having just missed the breakfast slot when we arrived (with not some little regret after seeing what the breakfast menu had to offer) and it being a tad early for lunch.

The wider menus look pretty good and the wine list has some interesting (including local) stuff on it.

Others dog friendly places to look out for are the Gurnard’s Head in Zennor (good food and a good by the glass wine offering),

Pic. courtesy of Emma Chandler

which my sister enjoyed a couple of weeks after we visited (fully booked when we tried to get in on a wet Thursday lunchtime, so make sure you book),

Pic. courtesy of Emma Chandler

the Old Coastguard in Mousehole (sister establishment to the Gurnard’s Head)

with a good by the glass wine list and decent food (currently being refurbished after a fire last year, but will be open soon I am told) and the Mussel Shoal in Porthleven

(we didn’t get to this place, but my sister and other friends of ours were very impressed with the food on offer).

Where we stayed.

Our base at Gonwin Manor Cottages was delightful – beautiful grounds (with a fenced off and fully secure dog paddock, if your dogs are not great off the lead) splendid isolation (amazing for star gazing on a cloud free night) yet within easy reach of amenities and access to a great beach and the coastal path (St. Ives is accessible by way of a very easy stroll on said path, by way of the train from Carbis Bay Station or in the car – latter two both 5 – 10 mins tops.

The cottage (Rose Cottage – 2 people and 2 dogs) itself had all you could want – really well specced. We have booked this place again for later this year, as well as a week in Padstow, so stock up Scarlet Wines and Bin Two.

The verdict

I love Cornwall. Its combination of fabulous beaches (a list of dog friendly beaches can be accessed by clicking here),

great walks on the coastal path and dog friendly food and drink establishments make it an ideal place for a staycation with or without dogs.

We tend to go out of season and enjoy the lack of crowds – bliss.

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