Stargazy Inn – picturesque Port Isaac Cornwall.
Port Isaac, a historic, Cornish, fishing port close to where I grew up in North Cornwall is a favourite spot for me. Arriving on a perfect sunny day, the weather couldn’t have been better.
The Stargazy Inn is easy to find, at the top of the village on the road which leads to Port Gaverne. It has its own small parking area which is a definite plus in many of the pretty villages around Cornwall. Port Isaac can get very busy in the peak holiday season. It’s the location of the Doc Martin TV series and every bit as picturesque as the show suggests.
Although I knew roughly where the Inn was it was difficult to imagine the exact location as the building was previously a tired looking hotel. After a total refurbishment, the transformation is dramatic, the exterior has been redecorated to give a clean, coastal, feel with a decked terrace complete with a glass windshield. The view over the bay is stunning; on a clear day, you can see along the coastline as far as Tintagel.
My room was on the first floor with a small balcony and sea view, one of nine rooms in total. The décor is muted coastal colours, with a high ceiling and ample storage space, the chandelier adding a quirky touch of colour. Along with a flat-screen TV, standard these days, there are tea and coffee making facilities as well as bottled water. A dressing gown, slippers, and complimentary Molton Brown toiletries are also provided. The separate bathroom has a deep bath, toilet and basin and a driftwood framed mirror. All in all, everything has been thought of to make for a good stay.
I had plenty of time before dinner to go for a walk down to the port itself. The coastal footpath is very close, just down through the car park opposite, with the port being a five-minute stroll away. The coast path route has the best views of the port and the surrounding headlands, the road leading down is very narrow with no car parks in this part of the village. This is a working fishing port, ideal if you want to buy fish straight from the sea. Taking the other direction from the Inn there is a steep hill going down to Port Gaverne, another smaller port with a few cottages and the Port Gaverne Hotel. After a very enjoyable walk, I sat on the terrace in the sunshine for a while and soaked up the view.
I was really looking forward to dinner at the Stargazy Inn. The head chef is Andrew Sheridan, who has recently moved, with his team, to Cornwall from Wales, he has been one of the chefs representing Wales in The Great British Menu in 2018 and 2019. There is an A La Carte menu as well as a tasting menu, I was happy to be eating the latter. The dining room is light and spacious with fish-themed pictures by Caroline Cleave a local artist based in Port Isaac.
To start, a glass of sparkling Camel Valley brut, from Camel Valley the largest Cornish vineyard, one of my favourites. The taster snack quickly appeared, chicken skin parfait with elderflower jelly and a cheese and onion crisp, it was light and very tasty. This was followed by warm beer bread with cultured and marmite kinds of butter, luckily I’m on the ‘like’ side as the flavour definitely came through.
The next course, my personal highlight, featured Cornish mackerel with cucumber and dill, this was absolutely delicious, the mackerel was succulent and perfectly cooked. To follow local Porthilly oysters with a parsley and oyster soup which was extremely flavoursome.
The meat course was loin of lamb and belly with onions and Camelford wild garlic, a beautifully presented and tasty dish.
On to sweet courses, first was a light and refreshing Kernow chocolate brownie with passionfruit and coconut.
To finish was the Great British Menu rice pudding with hay ice cream. The rice pudding was cold which was something of a surprise, but went very well with the accompanying ice cream. It was definitely an outstanding dinner. If you prefer to pick and choose, some of the individual courses from the tasting menu also feature as larger dishes on the main menu.
I slept very well; it was beautifully quiet with the only sound being that of the gulls outside. After a quick bath, to freshen up, it was time to head downstairs again for breakfast. This is served in the bar area of the Inn, the walls here also have sea themed pictures. Breakfast is fruit juice with a choice of tea or coffee, followed by a platter of dainty morsels consisting of yoghurt with date cookie crumble and raspberries, compressed pineapple with passion fruit and crème frâiche, choux pastry with lemon curd, strawberries and strawberry gel and warm smoked salmon with pickled celeriac celeriac, dill powder and coconut. Then there is a choice of a full Cornish breakfast or the special of the day. Having eaten so well the evening before I plumped for Cornish bacon and eggs, a perfect start to the day.
It was time to gather myself together to wend my way home after a superb stay at the Stargazy Inn. It is a lovely setting with excellent food and very good service from an attentive team.
I was fortunate to be able to have a chat with Andy Sheridan the head chef before I left. His passion for cooking and love of using local, high quality, produce in the menu is very evident. I’m sure that Stargazy Inn will go from strength to strength. And, I will definitely go back in the near future for lunch on the terrace with that perfect view.
The name Stargazy is taken from the Cornish dish Stargazy pie, a traditional fish pie where the heads of the fish poke up through the pastry, looking up at the ‘stars’. Stargazy Inn and the nearby Port Gaverne Hotel are part of the same group. The food at Port Gaverne awarded the best pub in the South West in 2018, is excellent too and is a place I often visit for lunch when I’m down in Cornwall.
Stargazy Inn is open for drinks, lunch and dinner throughout the day, with the terrace having comfortable seating and a fabulous view. The menu features dishes created from seasonal, local, produce.
Port Isaac is a great place to stay from which to explore the beautiful beaches, secluded coves and rugged headlands of North Cornwall. For walkers, the coastal footpath is easily accessible.
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For more information visit: Stargazy Inn. Stargazy Inn, The Terrace, Port Isaac, Cornwall PL29 3SG.
Telephone: 01208 811516.