Mrs. SF, I and the dogs’ annual pilgrimage to Cornwall led us to a new part of the County this year with a week in Padstow (this part one) and then on to an old favourite in the form of Gonwin Manor Cottages in Carbis Bay near St Ives (part two to follow, probably, in due course) for a second week.
We always take the dogs with us when we holiday in the UK and, as it is as much their holiday as ours (yes we do treat them like little people I am afraid to say), we like to take them with us when we eat out.
This does somewhat restricts the eating options and means the high end places (Stein’s Seafood restaurant, Paul Ainsworth’s No.6 and Nathan Outlaw’s two gaffs in Port Isaac) were off limits.
I can’t say I didn’t whistfully take a peek at the menus for each.
Not as pricey as I through in all cases (if you don’t go mad), but none are dog friendly so not an option on this trip regrettably.
The stop off – The Bearslake Inn, Sourton.
It is a long drive down from Cardiff to Cornwall, with Covid dictating a check in at the cottage we had booked at a late 5pm. A mid way stop off killed two birds with one stone in giving me ( the driver) a break and a way to kill a bit of time.
We chose, mainly due to location, the Bearlake Inn in Sourton (just over the border in Devon).
It is a lovely oldie worldie coaching inn with a thatched roof and a nice large garden. It is dog friendly inside and out and has a nice (if a touch pricier than your standard pub grub) menu.
Stars of the show were a Gloucester old spot pork chop dish with a cider gravy, a black pudding fritter and burnt apple sauce (£16) and a lovely light pistachio cake with cherry bakewell icecream (£7).
Very conveniently located just before the Cornish border it made for a very pleasant stop off point on our trip down from Cardiff (about 2 hours) to Padstow (about another 1 hour 15 mins). If you are going further south (say St. Ives) it is pretty much half way time wise.
Bit more high end than pub grub (with prices to match), the waiting staff loved the doggies and made a big fuss of them. This makes a big difference to us dog owners.
Be warned the ceiling beams are very low and, even though I am well below 6 foot, I managed to hit my head more than once.
The lion’s share of Sunday lunch – The Golden Lion, Padstow.
I am a big fan of a proper roast Sunday lunch, but it is a meal that can be a bit of a faff to do when on hols. (unfamilar oven etc.)
It, therefore, tends to be easier to get someone else to cook it for you (you are after all on your hols), with
cottages we stay in generally having quite small kitchens in any event.
Getting Sunday lunch sorted in Padstow was more problematic than I had envisaged, with loads of places (at least the dog friendly ones) fully booked even 3 weeks out from out arrival.
We managed to get the last booking at the Golden Lion at the ungodly hour (for lunch) of 12.15 (as it happened we didn’t eat until gone 13.00 after a bit of confusion re our order).
This place was not my first choice (if truth be told) but it was recommended to us as offering a solid Sunday lunch by friends (who know the area).
What we got was a pretty decent dinner, with a seriously loaded plate. The meats, pork, turkey and beef were not over cooked (nice pink beef) and there was a bountiful amount of veggies
and extra gravy (which always gets brownie points from me).
Pretty decent Sunday lunch this and nicely priced
Raising the wine bar – Bin Two, Padstow.
I love a good wine shop ( just love a good browse in one) and when it is also a wine bar that is very much to my liking.
Bin Two in Padstow has recently been awarded top spot in the Harpers “50 Best Indie Wine Merchants” in the UK (against some very stiff opposition), so when it comes to a good indie wine merchant you really can’t go wrong with this place.
The shop is tiny, but full of “off the beaten track” goodies
and they have fully utilised their outdoor space to great effect.
The menu offers wines by glass and bottle (as well as other booze)
and superior nibbles.
We went to this place three times (if I had had my way it would have been every day) during out week stay in Padstow and we drunk some fabulous wines and scoffed on some great nibbles
It is a place that you can go morning noon and night with good coffees and pastries in the morning
and nibbles and booze for the rest of the day (very good beef jerky amongst many other delights).
I had a hankering for the Padstow crab rolls, but alas each time we asked they were off the menu (good excuse, not that I need one, to go back methinks)
A hook up with the next door Mussel Box means if you want something more substantial you can get a takeaway from the Mussel Box (next door) and eat it in Bin Two for £5 charge.
As the price of takeaways from the Mussel box is about £5 cheaper than for eat in this is a pretty good deal.
If you are a booze and food lover and go to Padstow then this is a must visit place and if you visit only one place food and drink wise in Padstow my advice is make it this one.be aware you cannot book, so it is a case of rocking up and hoping there is a free space or waiting until there is
Sampling the local beer – Padstow Brewing Co. Tasting Room
I am not a huge beer drinker (with the exception of sours – my great love beer wise), but one of our party of four was. In any event, I always like to try new things and it is good to support local when you are away.
On this basis, the Padstow Tasting Room (serving beers and gins from the Padstow Brewing Company) piqued my interest, especially as they offered tasting flights.
I chose a tasting flight of Oatmeal Stout (very nice), Padstow Pilsner (also nice) and Padstow Mayday (Glade air freshener in a glass – maybe to some people’s taste, but not mine).They do nibbles as well, but as we didn’t partake I can’t say what they are like. Sound nice though.
The fact that it is dog friendly is great and if you aren’t a beer drinker they do wines and G&Ts. So something to suit all tastes.
Between a Rock and a bone in plaice – The Mariners at Rock.
Whilst many of Paul Ainsworth’s gaffs (inc No.6) were out of bounds due to us having the dogs in tow, his pub (The Mariners) in Rock (a 5 min ferry ride across the Camel estuary or much, much longer by car) is resolutely dog friendly.
Lovely views over the estuary, this is a great lunch spot.
Starters included a scotch egg with tabasco mayo (amazing apparently – £7), exemplary fried chicken (£7.50) and some zingingly fresh oysters (from Porthilly beach which is a mere 500 yards from the place) with all the accoutrements (touch pricey, perhaps, at £12.50 for 3 raw and £13.50 for 3 fried, but very nice). On to the mains, I had the puntastic “Dog’s Pollock” (billed as a fish hot dog, but in reality a fish finger sarnie albeit a very fat and very superior one – £17).
Serious wedge of fish this.
cooked on point
Mrs. SF’s fish and chips (£17) was also of megladon proportions (be warned portion sizes here are on the large size)
and ticked all the boxes with a great crispy batter coating, pearly white fish and proper chips, mushy peas and a cracking tartar sauce.
The star of the show, however, was a gorgeous piece of plaice on the bone with brown shrimps and caper butter.
Absolutely fabulous piece of fish, cooked on the money.
Decent wine list, with us choosing a pleasant Picpoul de Pinet (good seafood wine from the Languedoc region of France). I love the name Baron de Badass(iere). About £10 retail and £30 here on the list.
All in all a very satisfying day trip to Rock, with us having tired out the doggies first with a long coastal walk (meaning they were very well behaved).
Dining not Outlawed in Port Isaac – The Stargazy Inn.
Our second trip out of Padstow was to the vertiginous Port Isaac, a place I would seriously not want to have done the hill start element of my driving test in.
With Nathan Outlaw’s two places out of the equation (with doggies in tow and me in tight arse mode), we decided on the Stargazy Inn.
Friends with us (who use to have a place down this way) said they thought it was next to the Nathan Outlaw fish restaurant. When we got to the bottom of the never ending hill down to the harbour (where Nathan Outlaw’s fish restaurant is located) it became apparently it was actually next to the other Nathan Outlaw restaurant in Port Isaac back at the top of the village. Up the said hill and some we trudged, which certainly built up our appetites.
Nice looking place this, which is both a hotel and restaurant (both resolutely dog friendly), with a lovely view out to sea.
The menu is fishy focussed (maybe missing a trick not doing an actual stargazy pie, although I suspect there is not a huge demand for pilchard pies these days)
and we had the full bevy of the crustaceans on offer.Lobster rolls (nice if perhaps just a tad light on the lobster – £16.50), crab rarebit (very good with Cornish yarg and plentiful amounts of crab – £14.50) and (the stars of the show) some killer crab anacini (£7).
A light crisp shell, bang on cooked rice and jammed packed with crab, I could have eaten a trough of these.
We had (again) a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet (£27.50) with our lunch
and very nice it was too.
Good option this, if you are not up for the being an Outlaw in Port Isaac.
The mandatory pasty stop – Padstow Farm Shop.
If you come to Cornwall you have to have a pasty (it is the law), but if I am honest I have had very few pasties in Cornwall (or elsewhere) that I really rate. That was until I tried the St. Agnes Bakery pasties at the Padstow Farm Shop (a very short drive or slightly longer, but more virtuous, walk outside of Padstow).
Served in the deli section, these pasties are the business
A lovely pastry crustencased bountiful chunks of tender steak, potato and swede.With a nice peppery hit, this is what a pasty should be all about.
The shop itself is full of goodies,
with a great selection of all things you would need for a self catering week.
Amongst many delights, they do really good steaks,
which I cooked on the cottage BBQ (we had amazing weather).
This was our first time in this part of Cornwall (we usually venture further south and did so for our second week- more on that at a later date).
We ate and drunk very well without frequenting the really high end places (thus not shredding my wallet too much).
Despite its Padstein nickname we didn’t actually eat in any of the multitude of eateries in his name in the area. I am sure they are very nice, but there is plenty more on offer in Padstow and surrounds.
For booze needs, in addition to the fabulous Bin Two, Wadebridge Wines (unsurprisingly in Wadebridge – short drive or longer walk/cycle ride on the Camel Trail) has a very fine and interesting selection (dog friendly too) on offer.
Even though we went off season Padstow was still busy, but solitude can be found if you are prepared to venture not far outside of Padstow. Constantine Bay was absolutely lovely in the sun.Who needs to holiday abroad when we have this?
We stayed in a rental called Cider Cottage,
which was a max. 15 minute walk from Padstow harbour. Down hill there (good)
and uphill back (not so good).
Very well appointed,it made for a very pleasant base (had plentiful parking – a real boon in Padstow). Would certainly book again.