With Michelin starred restaurants, fine dining galore and one of the best natural larders in the world, finding good restaurants in Cornwall is a pleasure.
Food and travel writer Emma Henderson shares the 10 best restaurants in Cornwall to visit in 2023...
Cornwall’s lucky enough to have a huge and beautiful coastline, along with bundles of rolling countryside, meaning homegrown, quality food has always been important here. So, it’s no surprise it’s also home to some of the UK’s most exciting and notable restaurants, where seafood reigns and locally sourced produce is always on the menu.
As well as the top notch pasties, ice-cream and Cornish cream teas the county is known for, there’s a whole host of incredibly talented and inspiring restaurant owners and chefs that reflect the beauty and quality of their surroundings, which are more than worth travelling for – just remember to book ahead!
Here’s our review of the best restaurants to book when visiting the county.
© Daniel Scott
Chef Emily Scott has breathed new life into this part of Newquay, once famed for Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, which Emily’s restaurant now sits opposite. Emily Scott’s huge glass windows overlook one of Cornwall’s best known beaches, Watergate Bay, which inspire Emily’s simple yet excellent food. Her expertise is letting the seasonal ingredients shine, without adding too much else in and the set menu is full of top quality fish dishes, such as gurnard cured in Emily’s own citrus vodka. Her food is so good, that she was chosen to be the first woman to cook for the G7 world leaders, during the 2021 summit in Cornwall.
Owner and chef of The Shore, Bruce Renie, is one of the most passionate people in the business when it comes to using quality food. So much so, he’s often at Newlyn harbour, buying fish before it even gets to market. His whole ethos is using the freshest, best quality local produce he can to serve up his innovative food.
The restaurant might be simple and unassuming, but Bruce’s Cornish menu is full of fish, and inspired by Japanese flavours and cooking techniques. He seamlessly brings the two together, creating a perfectly formed multi-course menu (or a more casual mid-week offering). His food undoubtedly deserves a Michelin star, especially considering it’s just a two person operation.
Coombeshead is now one of Cornwall’s most popular restaurants, which has a real sustainability focus. After well-known chefs Tom Adams and April Bloomfield took over the dairy farm, opening the restaurant and rooms in 2016, it’s been tricky to secure a dinner booking. It’s best known for its exceptional organic sourdough bread, which is even on menus as far away as London. The restaurant’s inside one of the old barns and serves rustic and exceptionally good food that’s full of flavour. Little is wasted or has travelled far, as most of it comes from the farm, and it’s the spirit at Coombeshead which really kick-started Cornwall’s farm to fork revolution.
Often deemed to be one of the country’s best restaurants, Nathan Outlaw has done for Port Isaac what Rick Stein did for Padstow in terms of food, as it needed no introduction thanks to ITV’s hugely popular TV programme, Doc Martin. Sitting at the top of the fishing village, Outlaw’s New Road restaurant is the fine dining outpost, and is not to be confused with the more relaxed small plate offering, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, in the bottom of the village. Both of which hold a prestigious Michelin star.
Outlaw’s New Road offers a fish-focused tasting menu, championing everything from spider crab to gurnard. With its picturesque views, overlooking the rugged north Cornish coast below, it’s the place to go for a real celebration.
Paul and Emma Ainsworth took over the Georgian townhouse at number 6 in Padstow in 2005 and turned it into a fine dining restaurant with rooms. They rightly earned a Michelin star in 2013 and have successfully managed to retain it ever since. The food is modern British, and celebrates the best of local Cornish produce. Among the nine courses on the tasting menu, expect dishes like hay-aged pigeon with salted plum, which of course change seasonally, too.
After opening in early 2023, Crocadon has actually been five years in the making, as chef and farmer, Dan Cox, took over the farm of the same name in order to supply the restaurant. The aim was to be as self-sufficient as possible, and really cook inline with whatever produce is available from the farm’s own vegetable patches. The restaurant sits inside one of the restored farm barns, and with less than 10 tables, booking is essential too. Choose between an impressive yet relaxed multi course evening menu, or the outstanding Sunday lunches.
Right in the very north of Cornwall, Potters has helped put Bude on the culinary map, which is often overshadowed by the nearby Padstow on Port Issac. Along with his wife, Nikki, who runs front of house, it’s chef Oly Clarke’s first solo venture. They opened during the pandemic, yet still managed to secure a Michelin guide mention in 2022 with Oly’s fine dining style tasting menu. In keeping with the times though, the duo are now turning their hands to fill a gap in the market, and have turned into a relaxed and affordable neighbourhood seafood restaurant in Bude. Think elevated fish and chips, simple fish dishes and plenty of seafood.
Cornwall’s outpost of the Pig hotel’s litter, sits just above Padstow in Harlyn Bay, and opened in the challenging summer of 2020. As is the case with all of the Pig hotels, it’s taken over a grand old manor house, which dates back to the 15th century, and has been lovingly brought back to life with its luxe take on shabby chic decor. The signature 25-mile radius menu features food and drinks from excellent local producers, such as Philip Warren butchers and Camel Valley Vineyard, as well as using its own kitchen garden, too. The cooking is down to earth, but elevated by the quality ingredients. Although if you’re after something more casual, the outdoor eatery, the Lobster Shed, specialises in grilled seafood.
Rick and Katie Toogood, the duo behind Prawn On The Lawn, are so proud of the quality of the fish they dish up, that there’s also an in-house fish counter inside the restaurant. On the menu are excellent small fish-focused plates, which are so fresh thanks to the restaurant being right in the heart of Padstow. It’s also seen them scoop the Trencherman’s Award 2023 for the Best Restaurant.
Dishes change daily, depending on the catch and are often doused in well-balanced Asian flavourings, which go well with the hyper-local wine from Trevibban Mill, just outside Padstow. Be sure not to overlook the side dish of crispy crushed spiced potatoes either.
Ugly Butterfly ©John Hersey
Ugly Butterfly is chef and owner Adam Handling’s first restaurant in Cornwall, and with near floor to ceiling windows, it has unbeatable views over Carbis Bay. The restaurant really pushes the boat out on all levels, including its Scandi-inspired interiors, and imaginatively crafted cocktails. While the food focuses on sustainably caught and grown produce, which is superbly cooked, and really provides that luxurious experience. It’s unlikely to be one to take the children to, but it would make a great date night location, or even better in the daytime, if you’re lucky enough to have blue skies.