Fresh Local Cornish Fish at The Sardine Factory Restaurant.
This restaurant, part of the refurbished Old Sardine Factory, is situated on the West Quay in the historic fishing port of Looe on the south Cornish coast. The emphasis is on fresh local ingredients, including fish from the dayboat market directly opposite the restaurant. Opened by the award-winning chef Benjamin Palmer, who originates from Looe, in July 2018, it’s a perfect place to sample good food on a day trip to Looe.
My daughter is currently working in the hospitality industry in Padstow and was taking a day off for a busman’s holiday visit for lunch with me at The Sardine Factory. The first to arrive, having driven from Boscastle, I discovered the restaurant, set above the heritage centre. Importantly for Cornwall in summer, there are pay and display parking spots readily available on the quay nearby. The dining room is bright and spacious with stunning views looking over the harbour. Seascapes adorn the walls with a sculpture of swimming sardines attached to the ceiling. The tables are well spaced apart and the staff are friendly and helpful.
You can choose from a good selection of dishes either small bowls and plates or bigger bowls and plates with all main dietary requirements well catered for. As you would expect, fish and shellfish form a large part of the menu.
To start we were presented with a plate of salmon with ponzu dressing which was refreshing and light.
It was very difficult to choose from the smaller plates. I could have easily ordered several of the fish dishes as I love the fresh fish which is available in Cornwall. I opted for the king scallops baked in the shell with garlic breadcrumbs and Italian cured ham which was very tasty. My daughter chose the crispy fried squid with sweet chilli and lime, which she said was sticky and sweet with just the right amount of heat.
To follow I plumped for the pan-fried cod with buttered new potatoes, mussels, baby leeks and bacon. It came beautifully presented and the cod was succulent and perfectly cooked.
My daughter chose the Sardine Factory burger, with burger sauce, local Davidstow cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and skinny fries which she enjoyed immensely.
To accompany our meal, we selected a glass of light and fruity Côtes de Provence Rosé wine.
For dessert, I decided to try the latest addition to the menu. ‘Something Cheesy” is Cornish Blue cheese with poached fig and crumble topped cake. It was a generous portion with the unusual flavours complementing each other well.
My daughter went for one of her favourites, sticky toffee pudding with brown butter caramel and caramelised banana accompanied by a delicious locally made ice cream which she said was divine.
Feeling full from having eaten so well we crossed over the bridge to the centre of Looe and strolled down the narrow pedestrian high street past the fish market and other shops until we came to East Looe Beach.
If you are in the vicinity, I would certainly recommend The Sardine Factory Restaurant as it is well worth a visit. On the ground floor of the building is the Looe Harbour Heritage Centre, where you can discover more about the history of Looe and the importance of sardines to the local community. The Centre is open during the summer months with online booking available.
The fishing port of Looe is on the south Cornish coast, it’s easily reached by car taking around 45 minutes from Fowey, or an hour from the north Cornish towns of Newquay, Padstow or Polzeath.
The Sardine Factory Restaurant serves lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, booking is essential.
The Sardine Factory Restaurant
Telephone number: 01503 770262
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