Cornwall LivingIssue #63
Expect the unexpected
We visit The Cornish Barn Smokehouse & Bar at the Artist Residence in Penzance, where the food is as tantalising as the location.
Why settle for the ordinary and everyday, when you could enjoy an experience that is truly unique? It’s a question oft asked, yet seldom acted upon. One enterprise that has geared its entire ethos around creating an experience that is anything but ordinary is the Artist Residence collection of boutique hotels and restaurants. Originating in Brighton, the group has now expanded to Penzance, London, Oxfordshire, and will be opening a location in Bristol in 2018. Even as the family has grown, each location has retained its individuality, while maintaining a shared set of values and aesthetic. Owners Justin and Charlie have carefully selected unique buildings including a former boot factory and thatched manor house, all in stunning locations, working alongside British artists to inject them with their own unique and evolving style.
“It’s about letting the quality speak for itself.” – Gareth Spencer
Today we’re in Penzance to visit Artist Residence Cornwall and meet Head Chef Gareth Spencer of its accompanying smokehouse restaurant, The Cornish Barn. This Georgian townhouse offers 23 individually styled bedrooms, in addition to a separate cottage for up to six people. Upon entering the hotel, it’s clear that you are in for a real treat. The décor is striking, yet playful, combining original and limited edition artworks with upcycled and vintage furniture and industrial light fittings, rich in colour and textures. Many of the bedrooms are adorned with vivid murals created by artists such as Jo Peel, some evoking the seaside location, others with bright geometric shapes. A personal favourite, the Gallery Loft, features original canvasses by local artist Mat McIvor.
Its location makes it the perfect base to explore all that the west of Cornwall has to offer, from nearby St Michael’s Mount, to the bars and boutiques of St Ives. Equally, it’s an ideal stopover point if you’re travelling to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance or Land’s End. Why not top and tail your visit to the isles, with a stay at Artist Residence and a hearty meal at the Cornish Barn? You’ll be pleased to discover that the food is as appealing as the building itself.
The Cornish Barn is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner – fast becoming a firm foodie destination in its own right, whether or not you happen to be staying the night. The food is rustic, wholesome, and refreshingly unfussy in approach, focussing on big flavours and local seasonal produce. The restaurant features its own smokehouse, where meats on the grill menu are smoked using ‘Big Green Egg’ cookers, from the succulent beer can chicken to the melt-in-the-mouth lobster; sirloin steak to home-smoked barbeque belly pork ribs.
Head Chef Gareth Spencer takes inspiration from the worldclass produce that Cornwall is increasingly celebrated for, finding simple ways to serve it. “It’s about letting the quality speak for itself,” explains Gareth. “We focus on using and showcasing local produce because we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the best food the country has to offer!”
Take the new Sunday brunch menu, for instance. With a hearty mix of breakfast favourites such as black pudding, poached eggs and avocado as well as beefburgers, sweet chilli and even skinny fries, brunch on Sundays is a fantastic way to kickstart your afternoon, especially if you’ve slept in late. You can even go bottomless, which means unlimited Prosecco, mimosas or bloody Marys from 11am until 3pm!
To complement the food, The Cornish Barn stocks an impressive selection of drinks, from craft beers to crisp wines and fruity cocktails. Once again Cornwall is well represented, from the coffee roasted in county by The Cornish Coffee Company and homegrown Tregothnan tea, to the Curio and Tarquin’s Gin, and St Ives’ own Dead Man’s Fingers rum. What’s more, pop along to happy hour, Sunday to Friday, from 5pm to 7pm, to enjoy 50% off selected drinks. The Cornish Barn also hosts regular music nights, showcasing an expertly curated selection of both local and travelling artists.
There are two gardens: a large beer garden with its own manned bar, perfect for those balmier evenings, plus a secret terrace garden, while inside is wonderfully cosy for those chillier evenings when you want to snuggle up by the fireside.
It becomes clear that in Artist Residence and The Cornish Barn, Justin and Charlie have worked tirelessly to create an all-day and evening location, with various break-out spaces meaning there’s always somewhere you can escape to and immerse yourself in the atmosphere, whatever your mood and whatever the weather.
It’s an approach that encompasses the whole company – building a quality and unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s to the non-conformists. Long may their reign continue!
"It's about letting the quality speak for itself." - Gareth Spencer