The Seafood Grill at St Enodoc’s Hotel, Rock:
I have watched Nathan Outlaw demonstrating how to cook fish at Boscastle Festival for 3 years now. I have the book (still to be reviewed, but highly recommended!). I have even had a cookery lesson from him, courtesy of Davidstow Cheddar. But, until now, I have never eaten at his restaurant. So, this year, we decided to take a cab from Boscastle where we were visiting for the food festival, to Rock (so that both of us could drink and not have to navigate the treacherous Cornish roads at night) and indulge in a meal at St Enodoc’s Hotel in Rock, where Nathan has both the two star Michelin fine dining restaurant and the more informal Seafood Grill.
Now, had we planned a little more ahead, maybe we might have found space at the fine dining restaurant, but in retrospect I am rather glad we went to the grill. Not because we were in any way disappointed but because the menu is very close to the one now offered in London at the Capital Hotel where Nathan opened on 2nd October. And, guess what, I’m booked there for lunch in a week or so!
We started with a glass of Cornish Fizz, on the recommendation of our waiter. Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2010 was an excellent aperitif and one I would happily have carried on drinking. But, perhaps that might have been just a little extravagant, although it is marginally cheaper than champagne and for me at least, every bit as nice.
To start, we both ordered the Cornish fish soup which was rich and warming and very fresh flavoured. I’ve looked through Nathan’s book and there’s no recipe in there…I suspect it’s a sensible way to use whatever fish is available on the market at a decent price and I think it also included some saffron, shellfish, thyme, tomatoes and red peppers. But, whatever was in it worked very well!
My dining companion chose a dish for her main course that we’ve actually seen Nathan making. He has a particular take on tartare sauce which involves making a fresh mayonnaise, seasoning it with capers, tarragon and other soft herbs and then adding a little warm stock to make a creamy, light warm sauce to complement the fish. The haddock came with a wonderfully crispy skin and our sides of seasonal kale and pumpkin and chips seemed pretty spot on.
I picked a delicate seabass dish, with cucumber and mussels in a saffron sauce. Very delicious and well balanced. Once again, perfectly prepared fish, with crispy skin. For me, the kale and pumpkin was perhaps a bit too strongly flavoured to be the perfect accompaniment, but there was a generous helping of warm cucumber lurking under the fish, so I didn’t feel cheated.
We both went on to indulge in desserts. My choice of Spiced Red Wine figs with a strange sounding but very delicious Crème Fraiche sorbet and sea salt cookie was both beautiful and delicious.
What did we love? Well, the fish was perfectly cooked and served. Nothing was overly complicated and service was excellent. We could (and did) choose well priced Cornish wines from Camel Valley and we didn’t feel over hurried or pressured to move, although the restaurant was fully booked.
What could be improved on? Not much – perhaps the petit fours which came with coffee (two small chocolate truffles) or perhaps given the total price, something a bit more than bread on the table to start (our bill was around £170 including a mid-priced bottle of wine and two generous glasses of sparkling wine). But, I’m just trying to find something to say here…it’s really not a ‘mean’ restaurant. The fizzy wine and champagne comes in 175ml glasses and the fish portions are generous. Next time we are in Cornwall, we plan to try the fine dining restaurant where, we understand, Nathan himself cooks most evenings. And, of course, we have the London branch to test too!
Nathan Outlaw Seafood Grill and Fine Dining
St Enodoc Hotel
Tel: 01208 863394