Last Updated on May 5, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Across the water from Padstein – a sunny afternoon feast at St Enodoc Hotel.
Halfway down the M4 from London to Cornwall, my phone rang. An apologetic Rachel from reservations at St Enodoc Hotel calling to let me know that our confirmed lunch on the Terrace, scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday needed to be postponed, thanks to a met office storm warning…
A premonition? I’d just been reading Giles Coren’s review of a newly opened London restaurant which sums up many a contemporary British dining experience and if I’m honest, I wasn’t at all disappointed that I wouldn’t also be experiencing ‘Scott of the Antarctic levels of British expeditionary fortitude’. Gentle readers, I’m made of softer stuff.
Rachel did, however, kindly manage to find space for us the day before, when the forecast was just for gentle drizzle. I’ve been to St Enodoc Hotel before when Nathan Outlaw ran the grill and fine dining restaurant – and I remember the terrace from then, on a day when eating inside was definitely the best option. Gentle drizzle can easily turn into wind-lashed driving rain when you are sitting at the top of the hill looking across the Camel Estuary from Rock to Padstow…
On Sunday morning though, the skies were a perfect blue with just enough of a sea-breeze to keep things comfortable on a coastal walk. And, that’s how the weather stayed all day. We arrived at the pristine, whitewashed hotel to a terrace of happy, warm diners basking in the afternoon sun. And had time for a quick drink in the pretty gardens before we made our way to our table overlooking the sea.
If you are drinking, then do enjoy a glass of local Camel Valley sparkling wine. My pinot noir rose was spot on and a great way to start the afternoon.
The hotel terrace must have one of the best views in Cornwall, if not in England and, they’ve now reopened for bookings only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, subject to the weather. Make your reservation and if the weather isn’t appropriate, you’ll be offered an alternative date. There’s an a la carte menu on Friday and Sunday while Saturday is barbecue day.
There is a range of snacks to share (or as a light starter) and starters. On the snack list alongside the nocellara olives and warm country loaf, you’ll find Porthilly oysters, spicy nduja doughnuts, pollock brandade with music bread and crispy buffalo cauliflower which one of our group picked.
From the starter menu, dishes include mackerel teriyaki with puffed rice, wasabi and radish and chilled gazpacho with creme fraiche and crouton. But, it was hard to resist the lobster thermidor crumpet. A simple but delicious idea, with a warm crumpet topped with chunks of fresh lobster in a rich creamy sauce. Topped with fresh steamed samphire and sea purslane, it was a contemporary take on a posh dining favourite from the 1970s.
My companion’s wild mushrooms on toast with truffle and egg yolk received similarly positive noises. A good selection of truffled wild mushrooms laced with a rich egg yolk and truffle sauce sat on a soft, toasted, buttery slice of brioche. Next time!
Although we were all tempted by the day’s special of local sirloin steak with chips, in the end, we opted for lighter dishes. My plaice with samphire and njuda butter with new potatoes was a triumph of balance. Njuda is a soft, spicy chorizo sausage that could so easily have overwhelmed both fish and samphire, But, the perfectly cooked and flakey plaice, served on the bone, was complemented rather than overwhelmed while the samphire added textural interest and a salty note.
My companion enjoyed roast sea trout with gnocchi, leeks, mussels and dill. Her pretty as a picture plate was based on a generous helping of mouthwateringly soft and perfectly seasoned gnocchi topped with immaculately cooked succulent seatrout and complemented by fragrant dill oil garnished mussels and charred leeks.
Meanwhile, our third guest ordered the halloumi burger with smoked onion mayo, a seeded bun and fries. I’d seen the burgers being served to other tables and already knew I’d have food-envy when her order arrived. Sure enough, a veggie burger with two thick slices of fried halloumi (not greasy) and plenty of garnish arrived. Smoked onion mayo added a real wow factor. This is the kind of veggie dish that would have me giving up meat with no problem.
Two between three for dessert seemed a good idea and although my own first choice would have been the strawberry Eton mess, I’m allergic to the fragrant berries, making this time of year a constant challenge. It’s difficult to make an Eton mess look pretty but here, the use of Italian and French meringue and some careful plating with fresh strawberries, strawberry sorbet and sprigs of micro basil did just that. No complaints at all from my companions.
The clotted cream ice cream sandwich with raspberries and mint that I enjoyed was equally stunning. Yes, I did share, no I didn’t want to – I loved the fresh raspberries complemented by sprigs of mint and light mint jelly with fresh raspberry sorbet. And, the clotted cream ice cream was deliciously rich and creamy topped with fine slithers of sponge.
This is the best way to dine al-fresco and on a sunny day, it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss. Personally, I’ll be delighted when there’s the option to dine indoors too if the British Weather does let us down. But in the meantime, if you happen to be in Cornwall, don’t miss St Enodoc Hotel Terrace.
I’ve heard that the hotel itself has a few vacancies through the summer, so if you want to hedge your bets and enjoy a staycation in a great location with food that we can promise will be good, do check for yourself.
We’ve also got a tried and tested list of hotels to recommend. Check our feature and click through to read more about any of the Cornish Boutique Hotels that we’ve reviewed in the last few years.