Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Seafood Restaurant - Part of Rick Stein's Padstow Empire

I do apologise for the length of time it's taken me to get this post up. Life got in the way in the form of our Y6 production of 'Joseph's Technicolour Dream Coat' (fantastic, I was very proud), Kendal Calling (foody review coming soon) and the Summer Holidays, which have involved me spending pretty much every day at school sorting out my new classroom (exciting!).

Anyway, my last set of posts were about my trip to Cornwall in the Yurt, and I mentioned how on the last day Gav surprised me with a booking at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. We had only managed to get a table at half 9, so we had plenty of time to spend wandering round the coastal town. There was also ample parking opposite the impressive looking restaurant which was handy.

It was a clear, sunny evening and Padstow was a beautiful place to while away a couple of hours. We had a little walk around the beach and explored the pretty little shops. We noticed lots of other lovely looking places to eat and had to have an extreme battle of self control when outside the many chippys and the smell of freshly battered fish wafted over to us! We settled in a spot in the marina, admiring the boats, reading and watching families catching crabs in the waters.

After a drink in The Old Custom House while watching the Euros (I can't remember the teams, I remember Jelavic was playing and that's about it!) we wandered over to the restaurant for the main event. We were greeted by our waitress, who stayed with us all evening, and were seated straight away at a table near the bar. When booking Gav had requested a window seat but there mustn't have been any available at such short notice. The waitress had a friendly chat with us about where we were from and assured us that she would answer any questions about the menu. I was planning on ordering the Fruit de Mer, having read excellent reviews on it, and wanting to truly experience the seafood they had on offer. I admitted that I was a little worried about how to go about eating it. The waitress was very understanding and didn't make me feel out of place or stupid for asking such a question. She said that she'd be here to help and show me how to use the tools, and also recommended the Hot Shellfish dish for me.

Before our starters arrived we were served a complementary appetiser, which I'm afraid I didn't get a picture of and can't remember what it was! It was a lovely little mouthful anyway and very exciting for me as I'd never been anywhere that did this before!

Our starters arrived and we tucked in. Gav ordered the Half Shell Queen Scallops from The Isle of Man ‘A La Plancha’ with Noisette Butter. He really enjoyed them and wolfed them down without even offering me one! The butter looked really tasty and the dish was presented beautifully.

I took the waitress' advice and went for the Hot Shellfish. Before I received my dish I was practically given a tool belt of implements with which to attack my seafood! Nerves mounting, I tucked in to my plate of langoustines, oysters, clams, razor clam, scallop, winkles, mussels, whelks, crab claw and cockles, all served hot in parsley, chilli, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. This dish definitely deserves an extra large picture so feast your eyes on this:

It was absolutley exquisite. The best seafood I've ever had. It was fresh, tasty and delicate, set off beautifully by the garlic and chilli. The scallop was meaty and satisfying, and the clams and winkles were bubbly little morsels of saltiness. I'd never had an oyster before and, although I enjoyed it, I really didn't see the big deal with them. I was surprised by the whelks, another new one on me, they were like big juicy snails - dead yummy. I did find the crab very difficult to get into and eventually our waitress came over and offered to get the chef to 'give it a little whack with a hammer', which I was very grateful for! I would love to go back here just for this dish; without doubt the best starter I've ever had.

For my main course I did really want to try the Lobster Thermidor but felt it was just too dear after having had an expensive starter; maybe another time. I ended up going for the 'Indonesian Seafood Curry with Monkfish, Squid and Prawns'. The seafood in this dish was, again, fresh and well cooked, and the the sauce was rich and creamy. I really enjoyed the side dish of green beans with grated coconut, fried shallots, garlic and chilli. It was a different from anything I've had with a curry before and was very crispy and moreish. Gav had the 'Local Cod, Chips and Tartare Sauce' which he said was excellent. I'm glad they're not afraid to put this kind of traditional fare on the menu, as done well it is a truly exquisite British standard that can really show off freshly caught fish.

I really would recommend this restaurant, and indeed the town of Padstow for a visit. The food really did justice to the towns fishing industry and the staff were some of the friendliest and pleasantly non-pretentious bunch I've ever met. We will definitly return if ever in the area and it has inspired me to try more restaurants that specialise in seafood; next on the list - Loch Fyne restaurant in Knutsford!