Looking for Padstow restaurants? Few stretches of British coast harbour more culinary talent than the Atlantic-bashed area around Padstow, where Ainsworth and Rick Stein reside have their seafood restaurants. Here’s our pick…
No 6 Paul Ainsworth
There are only a handful of restaurants we’ve been to where we’ve wanted to book a return visit upon first bite. Chef Paul Ainsworth’s pin-sharp No 6, located in a tiny Georgian townhouse in Padstow, is one of them. The morsel that did it? A plump, deep-fried Porthilly oyster served with charcoal mayonnaise and chunks of soul-satisfying sourdough.
Despite the hype around it, No 6 avoids being stuffy. Ainsworth, who trained under Gordon Ramsay and won TV fame through Great British Menu, has the playfulness and boyish energy of a labrador puppy. The décor is just as lively, with outrageously bright Cole & Son Miami wallpaper (bring your shades), and windows on to the kitchen’s theatricality.
The food is equally free of fussiness, stripped of cheffy canapés and tasting menus in favour of à la carte dishes such as a Jacob’s ladder ragu with spaghetti; raw seabream served on a slaw of sand shrimp with tuna-rich katsuobushi mayonnaise; and tournedos Rossini made with chicken instead of the usual steak. The latter – a stuffed chicken breast topped with morels and a cold parfait of livers from duck, goose and chicken – is laced with a rich madeira sauce, its stock derived from an entire chicken.
A few cobbled streets from No 6, Padstow’s Prawn on the Lawn offers tapas-style fish plates (crab som tam, whole mackerel with ’nduja and fennel, Porthilly mussels with clams and manzanilla) in white-tiled, bistro-style surroundings.
Above Padstow town, Craftworks produces pop-up nacho and taco suppers (think Cornish beef brisket with shredded Little Gem, taco slaw, salsa, soured cream and red onion pickles) from its food truck at Trerethern Farm. You sit on straw bales to eat while gazing over the fields of Padstow Kitchen Garden (where much of your supper comes from) and the cornfields that flank the Camel Estuary (padstowkitchengarden.co.uk).
Narrow country lanes from Padstow tunneling through beech trees lead to Trevibban Mill, a vineyard and apple orchard that produces ciders and wines, and houses a wood-and-glass restaurant run by Andy Appleton, previously head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall.
As at Fifteen, Appleton offers a creative interpretation of Italian cooking, including Middle Eastern ingredients such as harissa that he freely admits would have Italians spluttering over their spaghetti. But it works. Lunch kicks off with deep-fried sage leaves wrapped around anchovy fillets, followed by wild garlic agnolotti filled with fermented leeks and ricotta. The rose harissa fish stew (Trevibban’s must-eat main) and homemade squid ink linguine with Cornish scallops and ’nduja pangrattato are equally delicious. And of course it all begs to be accompanied by wines produced just a cork’s pop away (try the sparkling pink brut).
Rick Stein has been credited with putting Padstow on the map (and creating bottle-neck traffic jams during the summer hols). Book into his Seafood School now to beat the queues and choose the best classes from the school’s new programme which includes everything from cooking with kids to becoming a chocolate expert, or simply keep it to what Stein is famous for.
The Original Fish & Shellfish course, the school’s most popular, has new menus for Rick Stein’s Seafood school this summer, including some exciting Asian flavours, while its new skills workshops take in everything from fish filleting to Far-Eastern steaming. Among the new One Dish evening courses you’ll find Madras Fish Curry. Learn how to cook Rick’s perfect hot and sour southern Indian curry as seen in his travels on the subcontinent.