London is not the only place to have Michelin-starred restaurants and gourmet cuisine. The West Country, particularly Devon and Cornwall, is the source of much of England's fresh fish, seafood, farm-reared meats, cheeses and delectable clotted cream. With so much fresh produce on the doorstep, gourmet chefs are serving fabulous cuisine in some of the most unlikely locations, which locals are keen to keep a well-kept secret. Here are a few of my personal favourites:
Earl of St Vincent, Egloshayle
This delightful pub just outside Wadebridge is a fascinating place to visit. Covered in hanging baskets, the interior of the inn is divided into small rooms, each with two or three cosy tables. What is most notable, besides the excellent fish based menu, is the collection of antique clocks. They come in all sizes and fill every space. On the hour there is a series of tings, chimes, bongs and cuckoos before normality is resumed. Egon Ronay listed, this extraordinarily unique pub is hard to beat for atmosphere.
Heskyn Mill, Tideford
Tucked away just off the A38 in Tideford, this restored 18th century corn mill offers a superb menu and does an exceedingly hearty Sunday lunch. Entrées include locally reared steaks and fresh fish dishes accompanied by delectable sauces with a hint of the unusual. Try the humble chicken breast, stuffed with spinach and brie and served with a rich tomato sauce, and do save room for the decadent desserts.
Visitors staying near Newquay will love the location of the Lewinnick Lodge which has stunning coastal views of Fistral Beach from its clifftop position on the Pentire headland. It even opens for breakfast (for around £7) and does superb lunches, cream teas and exquisite cuisine on the evening menu. Reasonably priced “amuse bouche” lead on to tasty fish cakes, Cornish rack of lamb and excellent vegetarian dishes.
The Abbey, Penzance
Those wanting the assurance of a Michelin star may want to splurge on a special meal at this fabulous bar-restaurant. Chef and Michelin-star owner, Ben Tunnicliffe, can be seen preparing the dishes on a live feed. Dine in the cosy downstairs bar or head upstairs to the airy dining room.
The Tresanton, St Mawes
Tucked away in the delightful sailing mecca of St Mawes on the Roseland Peninsula, this charming upscale restaurant is part of the boutique hotel created by Olga Polizzi, one of the famous Forte hotel family. The menu offers simple but superb cuisine with a hint of Mediterranean influence.
Plume of Feathers
Visitors staying near Newquay will find this pub a gastronomic delight in the small village of Mitchell. It does superb sandwich lunches and exquisite cuisine on the evening menu. Listed on the AA Best Pubs Guide it also holds a certificate of excellence for its cask ales.