In a nutshell
Appleton’s At The Vineyard (Trevibban Mill being the English vineyard in question) is a new edition to Cornwall’s restaurant scene for 2016. Enjoying idyllic surroundings on the Issey Brook near Padstow, the restaurant perches on vine-covered slopes with views across a wooded valley.
In the same open space, there’s also a bar and small shop where visitors can taste the estate’s wines and pick up a few bottles to take home.
Chef Andy Appleton spent the last ten years as head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall having been dispatched (originally for just six months) from the London HQ to ensure things were on track. Deciding it was time for a change, Andy and his partner Lyndsey (who also worked at Fifteen overseeing the apprenticeship programme) were on the lookout for other opportunities when they heard about Trevibban Mill.
The short menu changes every day, showcasing fresh Cornish produce in a distinctly Italian way. Asparagus from St Enodoc, crab from Padstow, and seaweed gathered from the nearby shoreline all appeared on our visit.
And while locally sourced and seasonal is something of a given in this neck of the woods, where small-scale growers and artisan producers reign supreme, here the provenance principle is so important they even source from their own edible garden, vegetable patch and greenhouse, and an orchard, all of which can be seen from the restaurant. Sheep graze the lower slopes (you can buy their wool at the restaurant), and the vineyard’s bee hives provide pollen and honey.
What’s the room like?
The restaurant is light and airy, with a modern industrial feel, while outside there’s a terrace and garden seating area. The combination of bar and restaurant adds an appealing buzz to the atmosphere, as the staff (predominately the restaurant and vineyard owners themselves) go from table to table, discussing the menu and giving the back-story to each of their wines with infectious passion.
Menu must-orders and misfires
The freshest spears of local asparagus were piled high with white crab meat and topped with crunchy, salty samphire. Red mullet with Sardinian fregola sardi was laced with a light and fresh seaweed dressing, with strong citrus flavours. Tortellini with chive flowers from the garden was the star of the show; a beautifully balanced dish that combined bee pollen pasta with homemade ricotta, asparagus, peas and whey.
The restaurant currently doubles as a small bar and shop where visitors can taste the range of English wines produced on the valley slopes; slate soils imbue them with distinctive purity and mineral notes. Organic principles are employed throughout (the farm is certified by The Soil Association). Although only Trevibban wines are available in the restaurant, there are choices to suit every dish, or the knowledgeable staff will guide you through a tasting flight if you prefer.
A lightly-oaked blend of chardonnay and seyval blanc was perfectly balanced, with excellent acidity and added complexity from the light use of oak. It worked well with both the fish and pasta dishes on the menu, and would also be an ideal match for risotto. The Black Ewe Red, made from an early-cropping variety of pinot noir, is the best English red I’ve tasted; judges at the recent International Wine Challenge agree, awarding it a silver medal (one of only two for English reds).
What else did we like?
The restaurant was busy, as was the bar, but every member of the team (each jumped in to serve our table at one point) was unhurried and capable. Knowledge and passion for food and wine is an intrinsic part of the offering at Appleton’s.
Here the finest local produce, cooked with finesse, and award-winning Cornish wines go hand in hand. It exemplifies all that’s great about the Cornish food scene right now.
Written by Lucy Studley, May 2016
Images provided by Lucy Studley; and seangeephotography.com
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