Available from 4th September, the 2018 Good Food Guide has revealed a sneak peek into its top 50 restaurants. And it’s not one of the swish city restaurants which has been crowned top eatery. Champion of champions in the Guide’s prestigious league of UK restaurants is none other than a tasty treat in a sleepy traditional fishing village on the North Cornwall coast.
Port Isaac is a little natural harbour hidden quietly between cliffs on the North Cornwall coast, but it has an uncanny knack for producing unlikely hits, from a comedy TV series starring a socially challenged doctor to world-famous shanties, and now the best restaurant in the country.
The Fisherman’s Friends were local lads who liked to sing on the Platt (harbour) over a pint and have now performed for Her Majesty the Queen and hundreds and thousands of fans around the globe.
Since Doc Martin first appeared on ITV in 2004, grouchy Doctor Ellingham, stomping crankily around Port Isaac’s pretty, winding streets, has won a legion of fans and the ninth (and final) series will air in 2018.
And now Port Isaac has clinched the number one slot in The Good Food Guide thanks to the skill of chef Nathan Outlaw, who established his Cornish fish restaurant at the top of the village in 2015.
Exclusively serving up a seafood tasting menu, the restaurant is in prime position to pick the finest and freshest Cornish seafood as it’s brought to shore by traditional little colourful day boats which bob in and out of the harbour.
Nathan ‘respects every scale and tail’ to create a special dining experience in an intimate setting. The first-floor dining room seats up to six guests, whilst the livelier downstairs Kitchen Bar gives you a slice of the action, yet only offering eight covers.
The Seafood Tasting Menu is available for lunch and dinner, with an additional shorter menu of four or five courses at lunchtime (a judicious choice if you’re planning to walk the Coast Path). “My aim has always been to offer customers the very best fish and seafood available on the day,” says Nathan, “cooked simply but with subtle layers of flavour.”
With dishes such as Red Mullet and Porthilly Sauce or Cured Monkfish, Tomato and Sea Purslane to enjoy, dining in this fabulous setting is a memory to treasure. And if you can’t book a table at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, try Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in a 15th century cottage by the harbour, serving small, delicious seafood plates like Ginger Cured Mackerel, Beetroot Chutney and Basil Yoghurt.
When you’re ready to treat yourself, we’ve a wide choice of welcoming cottages in Port Isaac, from dear little cottages for two (The Lobster Pot or The Keep Pot) to a striking detached house for eight (Castle View).
In the heart of Padstow, also a harbour on the North Cornwall coast, is another top-class restaurant showcasing the best of Cornish seafood and lovingly farmed produce. Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 is situated in an elegant Georgian townhouse where the welcome is warm and friendly and the Michelin-starred food is sublime.
Dishes are simple to reflect the rich deep flavours and outstanding quality of the best Cornish ingredients. Starters include dishes such as Crisp Porthilly Oysters with Cured Pork, Green Apple and Fennel, and lead to mains like Padstow Crab with Bouillabaisse Sauce and Oyster Leaf. Ewe’s Milk Cheesecake with Bitter Cocoa Sorbet completes the vision.
Paul Ainsworth, who learnt his skills under the impeccable tutorage of Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wareing and has appeared on The Great British Menu and Masterchef, works in partnership with his wife Emma and has another fabulous Italian restaurant in Padstow, Rojano’s in the Square.
Another of the Good Food Guide’s top 50 go-to places to dine, Gidleigh Park is a country hotel restaurant within a secluded hollow below the slopes of Dartmoor, near Chagford. The picturesque River Teign setting is part of the joy of dining at this special restaurant.
The legendary afternoon tea is one of our favourite experiences, sinking into an elegant drawing room sofa to be presented with a cake stand groaning with immaculately coiffured cucumber sandwiches, cream-laden scones and perfectly layered cakes accompanied by a tea menu as long as your arm.
But it’s the dining room which has merited the prestigious Top 50, winner of two Michelin stars and serving exquisite lunch and dinner. Described by Executive Chef Mike Wignall as ‘modern, technical and meaningful’, the food is complemented by fresh vegetables and herbs from Gidleigh Park’s kitchen garden.
The á la carte menu offers up dishes such as Dartmoor Spring Lamb with St Enodoc Asparagus and Crisp Jerusalem Artichoke Skin, and Poached and Torched Lemon Sole with Salt Cod Boudin, Miso Scented Potatoes and Seaweed Butter, while the ten-course tasting menu has delights like Cassoulet of Razor Clams with Edamame Beans, Cuttlefish Gnocchi and Poached Quail Egg. All this, plus an internationally acclaimed wine cellar offering 1,300 bins and 13,000 bottles.
The friendly little town of Chagford is the closest settlement to Gidleigh Park (and home to Helpful Holidays too), and we have a fine selection of Chagford cottages around the square and in surrounding countryside, where you’re perfectly placed for an outing to Gidleigh Park for tea or a fabulous top-notch meal.