Our editor Rebecca Moore visited Karrek restaurant at tranquil St Enodoc Hotel to enjoy nine courses of Cornish cuisine at its best…
I hadn’t ever eaten nine courses before. Well, that was until a special evening on a warm Saturday evening in June.
The St Enodoc Hotel, on the Camel Estuary in Rock, has two restaurants, both overlooking the hotel’s tropic-like gardens and the Camel Estuary, Karrek – meaning Rock in Cornish – is the more formal of the two, and where its six or nine course tasting menu takes place. The two restaurants are open to the public as well as those lucky enough to be staying at the luxury hotel.
Cornwall has undoubtedly been a slow arrival to the fine dining scene, but in the past five years its gastronomic offering has exploded. The best chefs are attracted to Cornwall, and once they arrive, they tend to stay, making a name for themselves, attracting visitors from near and far. Enticed by – as most of us foodie types are – the fruits of the sea and locally-sourced high-quality produce.
Born and bred in Cornwall, Guy Owen, became Executive Chef here in the January of 2020. With an exemplary CV, Guy has worked in many Michelin star restaurants in London and more recently making his way closer to his West Country roots. Overseeing both restaurants, Guy and his team focus on fresh dishes, with the tasting menu naturally championing Cornwall’s fishing excellency.
The nine-course tasting menu is designed to be enjoyed over an unperturbed three hours. Dishes aren’t delivered thick and fast, but rather well-explained and intended to be savoured. There’s the option to have a matching wine flight (additional £70), but when we saw one of our favourite bottles of Cedrick Bordin’s Sancerre on the menu we couldn’t resist.
While the menu may change depending on catch of the day and seasonal availability, it does feature some staple dishes which always remain. And this is the case with the first course, beautifully presented with four ‘Cornish snacks’ there’s a finger-sized pomme purée tartlet, a dainty lightly-battered John Dory with Doombar glaze and puffed potato, a mackerel seaweed taco which showcases sushi saba mackerel, Porthilly oyster Chantilly and a sprinkling of Caviar, plus a hunk of sweet and salty pretzel bread. The ‘snacks’ set the scene perfectly.
The three courses that followed celebrate Cornwall’s fruit of the sea. We enjoyed a hand-caught diver scallop from Port Isaac, hand-picked white crab and a Porthilly oyster and mussel risotto.
The portions increase in size when you reach course number five; mum’s bouillabaisse. Their take on a fish stew sees fillet of John Dory doused in a rich Cornish saffron sauce and finished with a drizzle of Cornish rapeseed oil.
We took a break from fish on course six, which was a succulent roasted chicken breast with a herb mousse, charred asparagus complemented by a chicken jus gras. But the highlight of this dish had to be the ‘lollipop’ boned chicken wings filled with the herb mousse.
To follow there’s a refreshing cucumber, lime and mint palate cleanser, a delicious honey cracker filled with lemon parfait and decorated with Honny cress, which is, as its name suggests, as sweet as honey.
The dessert showstopper is the rhubarb and white chocolate ‘Viennetta’ – which is the prettiest plate of pastels, and equally a taste sensation.
As we reached the finale, we had just enough room to tuck into the adorable petit four; a miniature ice cream cornet made from almond and orange brittle and creamy ‘Mr Whippy’ style ice cream, with a coffee of choice on the side. Nine courses completed, you’d expect to be bursting at the seams by this point, but with every dish light and fresh we were pleasantly full.
If you’re wanting to heighten your Cornish holiday, celebrate a special occasion, or you just love eating at new places, I can’t recommend Karrek’s tasting menu enough. A beautiful setting, simply divine dishes, which will have you forever battling with which one was your favourite (I still can’t pick one), and exemplary service – a true pleasure.
The nine course tasting menu costs £100 per person, the matching wine flight is an additional £70 per person. The tasting menu takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings between 6.30-8.30pm and pre-booking is essential. There’s a discretionary 12.5% service charge that will be added to your final bill.