8 of the Best North Cornwall Fish Restaurants
Cornwall is surrounded by a coastline teaming with incredible fish and shellfish, and there are so many fantastic seafood restaurants that it would quite simply be rude not to try a few. And because there is such an abundance of great places to eat, in this article we’re focusing on some of the best fish restaurants in North Cornwall. All you have to do is pick the one that suits your mood and appetite.
Before you do so, please check individual websites to keep up with the latest government advice on Covid-19 restrictions.
1. Porthminster Cafe, St Ives
The Porthminster Cafe isn’t a cafe – it’s a high-end restaurant, albeit one with a very relaxed, beachy feel. There’s no need to get dressed up but the service and atmosphere show that you’re in a decent joint. It’s light, airy and the corner table has squishy cushions to lean into. There are also terraces for al fresco dining or if you want to bring your dog. The location is divine – it’s set away from St Ives proper, and perched on golden sand with fab views of St Ives Bay and Godrevy lighthouse. The food is gorgeous: simple, vibrant dishes made with veg and herbs from the on-site kitchen garden, sustainably sourced fish from St Ives Bay itself or Newlyn, Looe and Mevagissey and shellfish, such as mussels and oysters, from the Fal River, Helford and Rock estuaries. The seafood linguine is to die for, and is best served with a crisp white from a beach bucket wine cooler.
2. Summerhouse, Perranporth
Tapas with a view is the way to describe the Summerhouse: a chilled beach cafe by day and fine dining restaurant by night. Owned by the same family who run legendary beach bar (and surf school) the Watering Hole, Alcatraz cafe and bistro and Bathsheba surf shop, it’s another great place to eat in Perranporth. Its spectacular location, presiding over the huge beach, allows you to gaze at the surf and sky. Huge windows are perfect for storm watching and a sunny decked outdoor area is the place to be for sunny days. Dark-blue booths give the restaurant a luxury feel, while plenty of wood and natural lighting keep it relaxed. Fish dishes include Cornish brown crab rarebit, shrimp and avocado tacos, monkfish massaman curry, westcountry mussels, Porthilly oysters and salt cod katsu.
3. The Lobster Shed at the Pig in Harlyn, Harlyn Bay
Not even the Covid-19 pandemic can halt the unstoppable Pig. The seventh eponymous hotel opened this summer in a beautiful country house in Harlyn Bay, further cementing Cornwall’s hotspot status as the best place to staycation. And where better to taste North Cornwall’s seafood delights than at a long, languid lunch at the hotel's Lobster Shed outdoor eating restaurant. Formerly an old pig sty, you can savour plates of lobster either simply grilled or roasted in wood-fired ovens and dripping in gouda cheese, crab rarebit or potted crab with toast and old school ice cream sundaes. Laidback and stylish, wooden feasting tables and more intimate terrace tables sit side by side under Sunbeam Jackie parasols, looking out through the wildflower meadows and dramatic coastline over Harlyn Bay. Relaxed luxury at its best.
4. Outlaw’s New Road, Port Isaac
The Covid-19 pandemic caused pre-eminent fish cook Nathan Outlaw to rethink his two Michelin-starred flagship, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, in Port Isaac. He shut up shop, then reopened in July as Outlaw’s New Road, serving up a more traditional menu at a reduced price point. The £140 tasting menu has been replaced with a ‘more inclusive and accessible’ collection of dishes, starting at £12. None of the flavour has been taken away and the ingredients all come from local waters. Expect such delights as crab salad with kohlrabi and apple, crispy squid with pickled vegetables and sweet chilli mayonnaise to start and spiced monkfish with curried lentils and cauliflower salad, lemon sole or whole John Dory with scallops and crab bisque for mains. Oh, and the views of the open waters and the craggy Cornish coastline from the understatedly smart dining room are spectacular.
5. The Mariners, Rock
Formerly owned by Nathan Outlaw, the Mariners still has a great reputation for fish under new proprietor, the Michelen-starred chef Paul Ainsworth, who relaunched the pub in May 2019 with his wife, Emma. Gorgeously decorated inside in dark, moody tones with vintage-style touches (we love the gilt shell wall lights), you can eat downstairs in the relaxed pub area or upstairs in the more refined restaurant. Porthilly oysters and their accompaniments take up a fair bit of the menu, then there is proper fish and chips – line-caught cod and triple-cooked Yukon Gold chips. Try the snappily named Dog’s Pollock: a crisp pollock hot dog, served with pickled cucumber, triple mustard, dill and parmesan, and salty skinny fries.
6. Prawn on the Lawn, Padstow
Covid-19 restrictions have meant that Padstow fave, the Prawn on the Lawn (which also has an outpost in London’s Highbury and Islington), has temporarily relocated until November to Trerethern Farm, just a mile outside the fishing village. At ‘Prawn on the Farm’, dishes such as whole crab and lobster are served in a marquee overlooking the Camel Estuary, and situated alongside Padstow Kitchen Garden. Small plates include seared tuna with soy, mirin, spring onion and chilli, sweet and sour crispy chilli monkfish and lemon sole with nduja and tarragon. Plenty of rosé is also served to soak up all the delicious flavours, atmosphere and views. Kids can run free, there’s loads of on-site parking and you can catch the ferry over from Rock.
7. Shellfish Beach Deli, St Agnes
Trendy St Agnes is a honey pot for the hipster artists and designers who have settled here. The Shellfish Beach Deli reflects this languid, laid back vibe. Quirky decor and a warm, friendly ambience make this a lovely little place to hang out for an evening meal. Local shellfish, including Falmouth scallops and native oysters, and line-caught fish are available daily. Try the deli’s signature crab sandwiches alongside homemade crab soup, clam chowder or lobster bisque. Coquilles St Jacques and fresh crab-filled pasta shells are a must.
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8. Rick Stein’s Cafe, Padstow
We couldn’t write about Cornish fish restaurants without mentioning Rick Stein. The chef’s empire has struggled in recent months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and two restaurants in Porthleven and Marlborough have been closed. But the family friendly cafe in Padstow is still alive and kicking. Serving food all day long, lunch and dinner menus feature locally sourced ingredients and the freshest fish, combined to create simple dishes inspired by Rick’s travels around the world. Choose from south-east Asian-inspired Thai fish cakes and Pondicherry cod curry or good old cod fish cakes, moules frites and pan-fried hake. For delicious fish, a pleasant setting, terrific service and reasonable prices, you cannot beat this tried-and-tested, relaxed and friendly outpost of the Stein family’s offering.