15 Jan Best Lunch In Padstow? You Better Believe It
Before you read this review you ought to know that I don’t, as a rule, enjoy dining at restaurants. For all the song and dance, and the expense, I am nearly always disappointed. The food I eat at home, or out at friends, is nearly always better that that served by trained and celebrated chefs. For me a restaurant is somewhere to go to meet friends, an excuse to put on some decents clothes, a place for an event, but not eat especially well.
All of which is fine. Then I had lunch at chef Paul Ainsworth’s signature restaurant, No 6, in the heart of Padstow. It’s been a long, long time since I dined out at an establishment where taste and flavour is clearly paramount. Where the food is creative without being pretentious, and where I would quite happily have exactly the same meal, at the same table the next day, and the day after that.
If I had to put headline spin on the cusine it would not be far off the mark to describe it as modern comfort food. Filling the tummy with nourishment and the senses with nostalgia. So, smoked haddock, meaty suet pudding with gravy, and prune and apple crumble. Each strangely familiar yet executed in a thoroughly modern and creatively satisfying way.
The haddock was deep inside a bowl immersed in a velvety smooth onion soup and on top a scoop of caviar chantilly the size of a boiled egg. The contrasting textures that it so appealing. From the creamy caviar, through the warmth of the soup, to the salty sharpness of the haddock.
I admit that the ox cheek and beef fat pudding on the menu filled me with apprehension. I was looking for a vegetarian option that wasn’t to be found. But what a success it turned out to be. Full and meaty with a glutinous deep brown gravy, the suet pudding light and sweet. Another winning flavour contrast when combined with celariac both roasted and creamed.
There is little that can go wrong with a crumble. In many ways the perfect English pudding. This one excelled with a hazelnut crumble and a fruity crunchy homely mess.
I think the three of us at that lunch new we were about to receive something special when the waiter arrived with our amuse bouches. This was a single deep fried oyster served with a taramasalata mouse. Delicate and flavour packed and cleverly matched with a dark bread and caramalised butter.
The staff were chatty but not overly, so while the decor is rather New York mid 80s. Modern with a twist, which means wallpaper, greys and whites, and 21st century art. It feels classy.
It was so good the three of up made a pledge there and then to return to lunch at No 6 every two months henceforth. I can’t believe I agreed to that – but then again I can’t believe a meal could be so good.
No 6, Middle Street Padstow, PL28 8AP. Tel: 01841 532093
illustration from No6 website drawn by local artist Vicki Hannaford