Saturday, 4 April 2009


Today we celebrated F's birthday. It wasn't actually his birthday - that's in a couple of weeks time. Tomorrow is the last day of a special offer for a lunch time set menu at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. And today it was our turn.

The restaurant was lovely with a calm but sophisticated air. The service was flawless as our waitress seemed to read minds and was always there without being intrusive. But the food... the food was beautiful.

The main course that F chose was normally the same price as the entire price of this menu for one person. It still wasn't cheap but how often do you get to eat at a celebrity chefs restaurant? Cornwall, being a tourist place has more restaurants than local population can support in the winter months and there are all sorts of lovely offers. Even the best of our restaurants need us poorer locals over the winter to fill their tables.

So the menu focused around Rick Stein's newest book and consisted of seafood. I had lobster and fennel rissotto to start while F had a gratin of turbot cheeks. For main I had sushi and F had Sea Bass. For desert I had pana cotta with rhubarb and he had a thing... (oops, slipped my memory). We finished with a latte and a peppermint tea )made with actual fresh peppermint leaves.

My sushi was perhaps a little more adventurous than I expected. There was a fair bit of raw fish. I don't think F would have liked it! It was beautiful and something I wouldn't normally have gotten to eat.

Part way through the meal, a young couple was placed at the table next to us. They were very attractive and were dressed expensively. They sat there and talked about money, about people they knew losing thousands, about shopping in New York, about not using the nursery slopes on skiing holidays and on and on. F and I don't have to talk. Their presence reduced us to silence but we were still communciating. And trying not to laugh. For them it was just a meal, while for us it was a special, special thing.
Afterwards we walked around the harbour and admired the views. Padstow sites near the coast, in a flooded river valley (caused by the change in sea levels after the last ice age). As such the harbour is very sheltered. Opposite the river from Padstow is Rock and the two are linked by a ferry. Rock is known for being the playground of the children of the rich.

Rick Stein knew what he was doing opening a top restaurant where he has access to both the rich and holidaying. The harbour continues to be home to a working fishing fleet, which is becoming less and less common in Cornwall. These fishermen, I hope, receive more for their catch because they are linked to the gastronomie that Rick has created. He has a restaurant, a bistro, a chippie and a cafe. Then there is the bakery, deli, gift shop and wine shop...

After our walk we returned to our car park and decided to visit the Lobster Hatchery. Most aquariums in our area tend to be small and overpriced. This one was small, reasonably priced and utterly charming.

Lobsters are under threat from fishing and pollution but it has been discovered that if females who are carrying eggs when they are caught are placed in a hatchery and the larvae raised until they are large enough, a much, much higher percentage survive to be adults. Lobsters are generally a mix of blue, cream and orange but occasionally genetics creates a rarecolouring or two. These variations occur in one lobster in several million (can't remember the number I think it was ten million for one and four for the other). They had lobsters of both these colourings, one was bright orange and the other was a vivid royal blue.

As well as full grown lobsters there were vats of larval lobster. There was a strong current in these jars and you could see little tiny lobster shaped individuals being thrown around. As soon as they leave the larval stage, they are separated into individual cells, as they have a tendency to fight and eat each other. The little lobsters in theit cells were so tiny! Once big enough to survive they are released into the seas of Cornwall.

We then drove through the sunshine along the coast back to home....


  1. So glad you had a lovely time... and appreciated everything, unlike some! Those lobsters...fancy- totally opposite on the colour spectrum, I never knew they came in blue too!

  2. It was beautiful! I will try and find a picture of one...

  3. This article has a piccie and some info

    However, I suspect these are American, rather than British Lobsters - I think they are different species....