This airy harbourfront restaurant doubles up as an informal café/bar during the day and a twinkly candlelit space at night. The vaulted ceilings and white and sage painted interior give the space a lovely beach-hut feel and there are views out onto the harbour through huge glass doors, or in summer even more panoramic views from the terrace.
The menu is a real celebration of Cornish produce. Not surprisingly, given the harbourside location, seafood features heavily and changes dependent on what boats are landing that week. We had spankingly fresh Porthilly oysters served simply with shallot vinaigrette and salt and pepper squid with a fiery homemade chilli sauce from the seafood menu.
Amelies is famous for its Sunday lunches and the Cornish roast sirloin of beef came with huge puffy yorkies, crunchy golden roasties and a deep, rich gravy. A bouillabasse was packed with crab, crayfish, cod and mussels. Service is attentive and friendly to all – kids and dogs are welcome and there’s a separate well thought-out kids menu that includes lots of healthy options. ameliesporthleven.co.uk
This brasserie-style café restaurant is a breezy space with a small terrace out front. Tea, coffee and cakes are served all day and, at lunch and dinner, the menu ranges from lighter sandwiches and soups (such as French onion soup with Cornish Gouda rarebit) to heartier dishes like crisp pork belly with hogs pudding and apple salad. thesquareatporthleven.co.uk
Fine dining with an Asian twist can be found at this harbourside restaurant. Chef Jude Kereama references his Maori/Malay roots with delicate plates such as Beef carpaccio with shemeji mushrooms, roast garlic, pickled beetroot, parmesan shavings and rosemary soy dressing, or pan-fried hake fillet with Cornish mussels, seaweed and a ginger dashi vegetable nage. Prices are equally high-end but it does a good value daily two- or three-course set menu. A few doors away, little sister restaurant Kota Kai is a more relaxed family-friendly version. kotarestaurant.co.uk
The Ship Inn
Steep steps up from the harbour take you into this classic 17th century Cornish fishermen’s pub. In winter you can huddle by the open fire with a pint of Porthleven pale ale (made by Cornish brewery Skinners) and watch the waves crash against the sea wall as seasonal storms come in. In summer the outdoor terrace has panoramic views over Porthleven harbour and the surrounding coastline. theshipinnporthleven.co.uk
Southgates Cornish Crab
A gem of a place if you are staying in a holiday cottage and buying in lunch or dinner, this tiny counter shop sells cooked crab and lobster as well as packs of hand-picked crab meat and whole dressed crabs. All its seafood is sustainably caught, with most of the crab landed by the family boat at Coverack on the Lizard Peninsula. 01326 558848
Tucked away just off the harbour this cute little deli is a great place to stock up on locally-sourced cheeses, charcuterie and booze as well as daily-made sandwiches, cakes, tarts and soups. Standout cheeses include Cornish Gouda from nearby Looe or soft and creamy Helford Blue. In the evenings the small wood-fired oven turns out a selection of pizzas to order and there are regular gin and wine-tasting evenings throughout the year. numbertwelveporthleven.co.uk
One of Beach Retreats’ luxury hideaways, just two minutes’ walk from the harbour in Porthleven, Tom’s Cottage is a restored 18th century fisherman’s cottage, a cosy bolthole for a week away. Downstairs is a modern kitchen, which is well equipped if you fancy cooking up some freshly caught seafood for dinner, and the woodburning stove in the living area is perfect for stoking up on a stormy evening.
If you’re too relaxed to even think about shopping for dinner, Beach Retreats also partners with The Mindful Chef so that guests can order in healthy meal boxes; a recipe and all the local ingredients you need to follow it (including organic beef from Dartmoor and fish from St Ives) are delivered to the door for you to cook at home. beachretreats.co.uk
Words by Janine Ratcliffe
Images by Beach Retreats