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Cornwall LivingIssue #62

Proper Cornish hospitality

This month our restaurant critic heads north to The Cornish Arms, to find a traditional pub with a modern, family-friendly twist.

With so many exceptional foodie destinations in Cornwall you don’t have to travel far from where you live or where you are staying to find delicious food, served in stunning surroundings. Living in west Cornwall, we are certainly guilty of only eating out in our favourite local restaurants, so thought it high time we took ourselves out of our comfort zone and drove north in search of our dinner. We had decided to head towards Padstow, not to eat in the infamous fishing village, but to try a family-friendly pub we had heard of in the nearby village of St Merryn, of the Rick Stein group.

“The wine list is carefully chosen and there is always a recommendation from Rick on the specials board.”

For me trying somewhere new always sets the nerves jangling slightly, especially as with a young family eating out is a rare treat as opposed to the norm. On the drive there, I questioned whether we had done the right thing… will it be as good as our favourite pizza restaurant, will the children be catered for, will they like the food? I guess that’s why we chose The Cornish Arms as our family foodie foray, comforted in the knowledge that, with Rick Stein behind it, we wouldn’t be disappointed. And we weren’t. At 5pm on a wet Thursday evening we weren’t expecting an already, half-full car park. You can’t book at The Cornish Arms, hence our early arrival time, and we weren’t the only people looking for a family evening meal.

You enter through the old part of the pub that has a traditional bar area with open fire, looking like it would be very cosy on a
winter’s evening. A large bookcase and an array of board games suggested this was an area where people can while away a few
hours when the weather is inclement enjoying good beer and good company. Beyond this it was great to see a group of
locals enjoying an after work pint, proof that the Rick Stein brand is complementing rather than ostracising. We waited to be seated by our friendly host and were given a choice of table either in the old part of the pub or the new conservatory. We chose the conservatory and as we were shown to our table noted that there were already groups of families and couples with dogs (Chalky must have insisted that The Cornish Arms was dog-friendly!) tucking in to their supper.

The conservatory dining room is spacious, with beautiful, oak roof timbers created by the traditional craftspeople at Carpenter Oak. We sat by the window looking out over the expansive beer garden that must be a glorious place when the sun shines; sadly we were being treated to an evening of Cornish gales and driving rain! Being a St Austell Brewery pub, their classic ales are all available on tap, so a pint of Tribute was the order of the day for my hubby, soft drinks for the children and for me a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine list is carefully chosen and there is always a recommendation from Rick on the specials board.

The menu isn’t overwhelming – for me a perfect number of seasonal dishes to choose from. Refreshingly, although there is a dedicated children’s menu, all of the dishes are available as smaller portions so no-one’s choice is limited. I opted for one of the daily specials, a Goan fish curry served with basmati rice and a chapati. My fish was succulent and the curry fragrant and perfectly spiced. Hubby chose the steak and ale pie that came with lashings of buttery mash, broccoli and gravy and was deemed the perfect accompaniment to a pint and a wet, stormy night! The children wouldn’t be swayed from the burger and chips, but it must have been good as the table fell silent for a while and both cleared their plates.

With a young family pudding is always a highlight and again you can have small portions of anything on the dessert menu.
My daughter’s cheesecake was a hit, while a huge sticky, toffee pudding with Cornish ice cream kept my son quiet for at least another five minutes! It’s always the cheeseboard for me and it didn’t disappoint – generous portions of three local cheeses served with Rick Stein’s signature crackers and beetroot chutney finished off a lovely meal.

By the time we left, every table was full and there were people perusing menus in the bar waiting for a table. The popularity of The Cornish Arms may come in part from the Rick Stein name, but for me the great service, delicious food and family-friendly atmosphere are what will bring us back again – this time hopefully in the Cornish sunshine!

"The wine list is carefully chosen and there is always a recommendation from Rick on the specials board."

Sample Menu

Starter

Chicken wings. £6.95
With tamarind and chilli sambal, served with mango, lime and coriander.

Devilled kidneys. £7.95
with chestnut mushrooms on toast.

Pau bhaji. £5.95
Potato based curry with finely chopped vegetables.

Grilled sardines. £6.95
With coarsely chopped green herbs.

Half pint of prawns. £7.95
With homemade bread and mayonnaise.

Porcini linguine. £6.95
With truffle oil, garlic and parsley.

Baked whole Camembert for 2. £12.95
With new potatoes, gherkins, pickle and homemade bread.

Pan fried squid. £8.95
With a watercress and chilli salad and soy sauce dressing.

Main

Pork belly. £14.95
With spiced pumpkin puree and kale.

Battered cod and chips. £13.95
With mushy peas and tartare sauce.

Meen kulambu. £14.95
A fragrant cod curry from southern India. Served with rice and chapati.

6oz Hamburger. £12.50
With Monterey Jack cheese, mayonnaise, chipotle chilli relish and chips.

10oz rump steak and chips. £17.95
Tomato, thyme, shallot and rocket salad. Butcher, Philip Warren, Launceston.

Ham, egg and chips. £10.95
Locally produced Tywardreath Ham.

Mussels and chips. £13.95
Moules marinière served with homemade bread and mayonnaise.

Grilled hake. £13.95
With beer, bacon and cabbage.

Scampi in the basket. £13.95
With homemade tartare sauce and chips.

Dessert

Cheesecake, served with salted caramel sauce. £5.95
Treleavens Cornish ice cream.

Chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. £5.95
A selection of cheese including Colston Basset, Cornish Yarg and Cornish Brie

Rick Stein oat biscuits & beetroot chutney. £7.95

Sticky toffee pudding, served with clotted cream. £5.95

Treleavens Cornish sorbet.
Citrus, raspberry or mango. £5.95

Sunken chocolate cake, served with clotted cream. £5.95