Editor Rebecca Moore returns to Harlyn Bay to see if The Lobster Shed is worthy of a Golden Lobster award of excellence…
Having visited The Pig at Harlyn Bay just before 2022’s peak summer season took off; I made a pledge to return to The Lobster Shed – its casual under-canvas dining offshoot. So before the summer season kicked off, we headed for Harlyn Bay to enjoy some al fresco seafood. And given my incredible lunch at The Pig, expectations were high.
It may not be chic wooden panelled walls, ornate silverware and hung artwork at every turn, but The Lobster Shed is undeniably stylish. With a retractable roof and sides, when the sun’s playing ball it’s flooded with Cornish sunshine, or when the elements aren’t on your side – this is Cornwall, after all – all tables are protected. We experienced somewhat typical May weather, but the sun was trying its hardest and peeping through the clouds for our lunch booking, so we got to enjoy our food sans cover.
Dappled by sunshine and looking out to wildflower meadows and the dramatic coastline over Harlyn Bay, it’s a rather special spot. We sat on one of the terrace tables, right on the edge, giving us quite the panorama with a glass of Camel Valley’s sparkling Pinot Noir Rose in hand. In my mind lobster and casual shouldn’t be in the same sentence, but they’ve got the atmosphere just right. There’s giggling children to my right, and a snoozing dog under the table behind me.
This doesn’t mean the service is downgraded though, as always I was impressed by the welcoming, attentive, but not inflated, staff. The menu consists of a selection of small plates, five dishes from the local charcoal fired grill, three lobster variations from the wood oven and two Padstow’s Fish Buoys crab options. With fewer than 20 dishes, it could be branded as limited, but it just shows the confidence in what’s being served here.
To kick things off we dived straight into seafood starters from the small plates menu; crispy squid served with a quintessential dipping Marie Rose sauce and shell-on crevettes with a dunkable chilli mayo. While they’re titled as small plates, the portions are generous, but the flavours and freshness are what prevails. Squid is a go-to dish for me, and I’d go as far to say this was the best I’ve tasted.
For the main event it had to be lobster. Those like me who often find themselves in a quandary of meat versus fish, the surf and turf is a song for both crowds. With the ‘surf’ in the shape of half a lobster landed less than three miles away in Padstow, and the ‘turf’ award-winning butcher Philip Warren’s 80z rump steak – it’s a meal of huge credentials. That’s not forgetting the dressed salad and sensational garden ‘Chimichurri’ sourced from The Pig’s kitchen garden, yards from our table.
Decadence was also experienced at the other side of the table, with my dining partner opting for the ‘Harlyn’ Thermidor. The Lobster Shed’s variation sees a half or whole lobster topped with lashings of vintage Cornish Gouda cheese, baked in its wood fire to golden perfection.
It was heartening to learn that for every lobster sold at The Lobster Shed, they donate £1 to Padstow’s local charity, The National Lobster Hatchery with its ‘Buy One – Set One Free’ campaign. It supports local fisherman and reduces the local lobsters’ food miles.
We rounded the meal off with one of its old school desserts, a rather indulgent chocolate sundae with all the trimmings. Safe to say it finished us off.
The Lobster Shed is a wonderful place to while away a few hours, particularly if you’re blessed with Cornish sunshine. The food and service was impeccable. For those wanting to experience a slice of The Pig’s characteristics, perhaps dog owners or those eating en famille, The Lobster Shed is simply wonderful. Being the most valuable fish caught in the UK, it’s unlikely that this would be a regular haunt given the expense. However, we found most of the menu to be reasonably priced, and more than worth it for a special occasion, or treating yourself on a Cornish getaway.