The Flavour Weekly: The Queen’s, Sam’s and The Cornwall

Last week I ate bream. It was the best most enjoyable piece of fish I’ve eaten in an age.  If fish is served in heaven if will be like this: perfectly cooked, gorgeously moist, delicate and melting in the mouth with a really crispy skin served on a risotto and something green…

You’ll have to forgive me for failing to :

a) photograph it so I could show you now how good it was;

b) recall the details of what else was on the plate. I drank a lot of wine (the waitress kept refilling my glass) and I was having too good a time to take notes;

c) drawing a blank to everything else I need excusing for. I’m getting too old for late nights and alcohol.

But I can tell you that it was cooked by the Cornwall Hotel and Spa’s new head chef, Brett Camborne Paynter.

I started with a ‘Rilette of Cornish crab, gazpacho espuma, crisp basil leaves’ and we ended the meal with a medley of all the desserts on offer.

I’ve never had a Tuesday evening so stacked with alternatives. I had to forgo the 2nd meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club and 2nd son’s school parents’ evening at it clashed with number 3 son’s birthday, but then I got an invite for a dinner at The Cornwall to meet the new chef and manager. The Cornwall is less than 5 minutes from my front door which means I could just manage selfless parental duty and birthday cake with selfish indulgence at a restaurant I was intrigued to learn if it was any good or not. By golly, I’m glad I did.

The week before I met Sarah Hayes at The Queen’s Hotel in St. Ives. Sarah and her husband Neythan only took on the pub last April but have already gained an AA rosette for their food.

“Our ultimate plan has been to create a proper Gastro pub in Cornwall that would also provide the informal, relaxed hangout for families to spend the afternoon much like the pubs we’d known in London,” she explained.

“Gastro, is one of those funny words,” Sarah and I discussed this at length, “Too often it gives places the excuse to add £5 to the menu and serve sub standard food,or  it tries to turn pubs into formal restaurants. Our one simple mission is to serve great, affordable pub food in a friendly environment. Luckily, we’ve landed on our feet with the brilliant Matt Perry as our chef. He aims to create simple yet appealing food, making everything from baking bread to homemade ice creams.  Even with using the best local ingredients that are fresh and seasonal, we were determined that every dish on the menu would still cost less than £10.”

I tucked into a delicious plate of bubble ‘n’ squeak with hogs pudding, poached egg and truffle oil. Something that might have been quite ordinary was transformed into something unexpected and superb.  And yes, once again I was so busy chatting and enjoying myself I forgot to take a picture.

I couldn’t resist following it with apple crumble served with Matt’s orange marmalade ice cream and this time I remember to take a  hurried snap before  the ice cream melted.

Would I go all the way to St. Ives again for the Queen’s? You bet I would and I’ll be bringing the kids too. Not only is the food good, the pub is super family friendly too.

In between times, at the behest of my son for a pre birthday treat, we went down to Sams on the Beach at Polkerris as he had a desire to eat their seafood pizza.

Now I have to be careful here, as I many friends who love Sams and would probably never have a bad word to say about it. Sams has everything going for it, the location in old lifeboat house gives it both character and a glorious view. However, it’s popularity has a downside. We booked for Sunday lunch but the earliest table was 3 in the afternoon. On balance we decided we were happy with this. A late brunch, a walk and arriving at three on a winter’s afternoon would suit us perfectly. However, they should have warned us that the menu offering was likely to be depleted by then.

I was looking forward to something informal such as pasta or pizza, but by the time the waitress took our order there was only one pizza left. Immediately, two of my three children were disappointed. I chose the sea bass stuffed with brown shrimps as a special treat…

After the Queen’s I found Sams very expensive and I was annoyed – no matter how tasty the dish was – it was marred by the fact I that most of my meal I spent picking out fish bones. £16.95 is a lot of money to spend and then to have to pick out the tiny fish bones with every mouthful.

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