In 1975, Rick Stein laid the foundations of what would become a flourishing food scene in Padstow, and Cornwall in general. For years, The Seafood Restaurant was one of the few smart restaurants in the county, but over the last decade things have changed dramatically.
Cornwall is now a leading light for the UK’s hospitality industry, with London chefs eschewing the city for farmhouse kitchens, Michelin-starred restaurants sitting alongside pasty shops, and, with the ever-increasing rise of “food tourism”, tens of thousands of visitors coming to Cornwall each year, specifically to eat.
And so, in the first of our town restaurant guides, it seemed only natural that we should begin with Padstow, and with Rick’s restaurant, where it all began…
Rick Stein’s empire may have expanded since 1975, but The Seafood Restaurant is still his flagship restaurant, and the quality of the fish here is second to none.
After working his way up from a Kitchen Porter position back in 2000, Pete Murt takes the helm as head chef, following up from Stephane Delourme who had previously run the kitchen for the last 20 years.
The à la carte menu is extensive, and ranges from platters of langoustines on ice, oysters Charentaise and fish soup, to lobster thermidor, whole Dover sole, and hake and chips.
At lunchtime there is also a three course set menu, and in January and February the restaurant runs a charity lunch menu.
In the middle of the restaurant is a seafood bar, where you can enjoy a shellfish platter, or order anything from the à la carte menu. Reservations aren’t necessary for the bar.
Service is formal, and children over three are welcome. For more information or to book a table, phone 01841 532700 or visit rickstein.com.
Paul Ainsworth won Padstow its first Michelin star in 2012, which No 6 has retained ever since. There’s often talk of a second star, so fantastic is the food, and we think it is just a matter of time…
After a full refurb in 2017, the restaurant now has the very grown up Cici’s Bar upstairs, where guests can relax with a drink whilst perusing the menu. Downstairs, the dining room is smart and comfortable, with a large window onto the state-of-the-art kitchen.
Renowned for being one of the loveliest men in the industry, Paul’s personality comes across in his cooking, which is generous and warm, with a good sprinkling of humour. Service at No 6 is friendly yet professional; the staff are extremely welcoming and always happy to help with the menu and make wine recommendations.
The à la carte menu is sublime (see sample menu), and includes dishes with deceptively simply titles, such as “all the rabbit” or “bread and butter pudding”.
In addition to the à la carte dishes, at lunchtime there is a set menu which has to be one of the best value meals around, at £29 for three beautiful courses.
Children are welcome (there is a very special children’s menu) and all dietary requirements can be catered for. For more information or to book a table, phone 01841 532093 or visit paul-ainsworth.co.uk.
In 2011 Paul Ainsworth took over Rojano’s in the Square, which was opened by Stanley Rojano in 1974, and is the best pizza place in town. In fact, Heston Blumenthal described a Rojano’s pizza as the best he’d tasted outside Italy. After nine years of success, Rojano’s in the Square has now evolved into Caffé Rojano and offers the same top quality food and service, and an updated style.
Caffe Rojano is open for breakfast and lunch through to late evenings. It’s suitable for families and couples alike; you’ll see dog walkers (and their hounds) enjoying a hot drink on the covered terrace by day, and groups of friends tucking into small plates and cocktails at the upstairs bar by night.
The perfect pizzas have stonebaked sourdough bases, with authentic Italian and Cornish toppings. The seasonal small plates, fresh pasta, and deli sandwiches are superb too, and as well as the usual menu, there are daily specials.
The ever-popular dessert choice, the Roald Dahl-inspired “Whoopsey-Splunkers” (pictured), is fantastic, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look at ice cream in the same way again. Caffé Rojano’s homemade soft serve ice cream is served with bowls of sauce and toppings (think chocolate, popcorn, nuts and popping candy) for you to create your perfect pud.
Booking recommended. For more information visit Caffé Rojano’s website.
Rick and Katie Toogood established their Islington restaurant Prawn on the Lawn in 2013, and opened their second establishment in the heart of Padstow two years later.
The shop window is home to a beautifully presented wet fish counter, behind which is the small but perfectly formed restaurant, with just 24 covers.
The menu changes daily (although always includes their signature dish, pictured, called “Prawn on the Lawn” for obvious reasons) and features the freshest seafood. There are brilliant tapas-style small plates, with Mediterranean and Asian influences, such as Szechuan prawns, fish tempura with curry sauce and crispy shallots, and ray wing with ‘nduja and tarragon.
You can order whole fish for the table (which you can choose from the fish counter) and shellfish platters. Delicious side dishes include moreish crushed spiced potatoes, salads, and warm soda bread.
The restaurant has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with great service, and is ideal for couples, families, or celebratory meals.
To see a sample menu, or to reserve a table, visit prawnonthelawn.com.
Rick Stein’s second Padstow restaurant is St Petroc’s Bistro, which is situated in a smart town house on New Street, just a minute’s walk from the harbour.
There are a handful of Rick’s classic fish dishes on the menu, but there’s more influence from Rick’s travels, and the menu also features a selection of chargrilled steaks and sauces. The prix fixe menu is good value.
The restaurant is very comfortable, and more relaxed than The Seafood. Children are welcome, and dogs are allowed in the pretty courtyard and at the bar. There’s also a private dining room, for up to 14 people, next door in Ruby’s Bar.
For sample menus, or to book a table, visit rickstein.com or phone 01841 532700.
Opened in spring 2018 by Rick and Katie Toogood, owners of Prawn on the Lawn, Barnaby’s Bistro has quickly become a firm favourite in Padstow.
The small, cosy restaurant has a menu designed for sharing, with food cooked on the wood-fired oven, and a wide range of tasty small plates and larger dishes such as a T-bone steak for two, or a whole sea bass for four.
With middle eastern influences and all produce sourced from as close to Padstow as possible, Barnaby’s dishes are packed with flavour. There’s also a very good wine list, and great cocktails.
To see the mouthwatering menu, and to book a table, visit barnabyspadstow.com.
Tucked away on Middle Street, Stein’s Café is open from breakfast through to dinner, and has a well thought out menu with strong Asian influences. The children’s menu is good, and with the piles of squishy cushions on the bench seating, it’s a lovely, comfy place to enjoy an informal family meal. To book a table, visit rickstein.com.
It’s worth queuing for the best fish and chips in town. Fish can be ordered battered or grilled, with chips cooked in beef-dripping, homemade mushy peas, or a virtuous salad. Get a takeaway to enjoy on the beach or a bench (beware the seagulls) or sit at a long table inside the café with a glass of crisp white wine. No bookings, for more info see rickstein.com.
The seasonal street food pop up at Padstow Kitchen Garden, on the outskirts of the town, is open from spring until early autumn, 12-8pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Craftworks serves burgers, burritos, nachos and tacos. BYO booze, and you can also pre-order a veg box to pick up while you’re there.
Alongside Stein’s fresh fish counter on South Quay, there’s a seasonal Seafood Bar, where you can enjoy the freshest of seafood. Hot food includes bowls of mussels and fish soup; there are shellfish platters, oysters, crab, lobster, prawns, sashimi, pâtés, salads and breads. For more information visit rickstein.com.
As you’d guess from their name, Burgers & Fish specialises in gourmet burgers and fresh fish dishes, with much of the food cooked on a charcoal grill. Open for lunch through to supper, with takeaway available too, and a good value set lunch menu. For more information, see burgersandfish.com.
Following a recent refurb, Green’s of Padstow is a smart café which sits above the town, with magnificent views across the estuary. Food is good and there’s a mouthwatering selection of homemade cakes. There’s even a mini golf course. For menus and more info, visit greenspadstow.co.uk.
BinTwo is a specialist wine shop tucked away in The Drang courtyard, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine or a G&T (with expert advice from the friendly staff), as well as great coffee. They also serve a small selection of delicious food, including lobster rolls, and charcuterie and cheese boards.
Visit bintwo.com for more information, including regular wine-tasting events.
Set in a pretty courtyard, just back from the harbour, The Basement is open from breakfast through to dinner. It serves modern, British cuisine, making the most of local fish and seasonal ingredients. Phone 01841 532846 or visit thebasement.co.uk.
This pretty pub overlooks the harbour, and its outside tables are a lovely spot to sit in the summer. Family and dog-friendly, the pub food is good quality, and there is a fine selection of beers. Phone or visit shipwrightspadstow.co.uk.
Stein’s grown up cocktail bar is the perfect place for pre-dinner drinks, with an extensive cocktail, spirits, wine and beer menu. It’s next door to St Petroc’s Bistro, and has a gorgeous private dining room, which seats up to 14, where you can order from St Petroc’s à la carte menu. For more details visit rickstein.com.
In its prominent position on the harbour front, The Old Custom House is a St Austell Brewery pub with a Brewer & Bean coffee shop which serves coffee, cakes, smoothies and sandwiches. The restaurant serves classic pub food, such as burgers, pies, steaks and fish and chips. For more information, or to book a table, see oldcustomhousepadstow.co.uk.