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6 New Road
, Port Isaac,
“The ultimate in classy fish cuisine”, Nathan Outlaw’s two-Michelin-starred flagship regularly proves why it’s up there with the very best in the business. The restaurant’s seafront setting and fabulous views resonate with the “sounds of satisfaction” coming from each and every table – testament to the sheer virtuosity of Outlaw’s cooking and his sympathetic approach to super-fresh Cornish seafood. Diners are offered just one tasting menu (lunch and dinner), but the balance, quality and invention are staggering – just consider a dish of sublime brill (“lightly cured by the master himself”) decorated with peas and mint. Outlaw also gives more humble species their full due: herrings are pickled and served with cucumber and seaweed; cod is lifted to “a whole new dimension”, lightly salted and matched with cuttlefish in red wine; lemon sole fillets are presented as a pair (one breadcrumbed, the other ‘au naturel’) with the simplest of accompaniments including purple sprouting broccoli and spring watercress. Finally, there are two “highly developed” desserts – perhaps a fresh-tasting rhubarb and custard ice cream ‘sandwich’ (“a delight to behold”) followed by a St Clement’s meringue pie with the flavours of oranges and lemons “ringing out”. Outlaw’s beautifully calibrated displays are backed by studiously matched wines, while service cleverly balances sociability with impressive expertise. It’s a tour de force – “a truly outstanding dining experience, and one to treasure.”
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There’s something of the Hakkasan in the way this British eatery has structured its list, with wines split up into intriguing (but generally helpful) categories such as ‘Sea and Ocean’ and ‘Aromatics’. Plus it’s easy to follow, beautifully presented and isn’t afraid to big up its weirder listings, like Georgian amphorae wines.
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2015
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6 New Road
, Port Isaac
Boscarne Junction Station 14km
Bodmin Central Station 16km
Long Cross Victorian Gardens 1km
Tregeare Rounds 3km
Fri-Sat 12N-2pm Wed-Sat 7-9pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
This was our nth visit, and the reason we keep returning, despite Port Isaac being a good four hours from where we live, is that we know that the dining experience will be a joy with exceptional cuisine and front of house backed up by an exceptional and truly international choice of wines and one of the best views in the country. The flow and balance of the menu is first class and the interplay of tastes and textures second to none. How Nathan Outlaw manages to produce such an array of dishes, different every time we dine here, and without resorting to meat mains, is almost beyond belief. The cod’s roe scones and cheesy flaky pastry were ideal canapés to go with champagne and led us into the two amuse-bouches, beautifully cured monkfish with smoked almonds and almond sauce and sensational soused carrot, and raw mackerel with fennel, spring onion and, of all things, some ginger which made for a surprising flavour treat. The speciality of red mullet and a “Port Isaac” crab dressing, which could not have had better seasoning, was out of this world, and the salt cod dish with wonderful parsnip crisps and purée, which added a lovely sweet element to balance the salt cod, had a surprise addition in the form of some locally sourced oxtail, making this something of a surf and turf adventure. The king of fish was immaculate and its courtiers, roasted seaweed, garlic mashed potato, leeks and a creamy hollandaise with capers played up beautifully to the royalty on display. Just the one dessert, a peerless poached pear tart with its filo pastry teasing the palate and Earl Grey ice cream and boozy raisins bringing a cheeky extra sweetness to the dish. We have recently enjoyed excellent meals at the restaurants of two of Nathan Outlaw’s protégés but we are convinced that Nathan is still the master. Good Food Guide’s 10 out of 10 rating is wholly justified.
Our meal here provided further evidence, if any were needed, of the failure of Michelin by Bookatable, and its inspectors, to recognise that its criteria for the top award on its scale of merit are not in tune with the reasons why paying customers favour some restaurants rather than others. Compared with the place we had dined at a week before, a 3-star entertainment centre in Bray, RNO was far superior from several points of view. Indeed, one factor being in fact the lovely view of the North Cornwall coast, but, equally, we had front of house staff who hadn’t needed to learn a script, local, fresh ingredients presented in a recognisable way and combined and balanced in unmatchable and inventive fashion, and in suitably sized portions, and some excellent Coravin by-the-glass wine selections, altogether making for an outstanding dining experience. Delightful canapés in the form of tasty crab scones and light as a feather cheese straws were followed by mouthwatering raw scallops with a citrus dressing, horseradish mayo and pink grapefruit, and fresh mackerel cured for 20 minutes cleverly contrasted with apple and with a chilli dressing kicking through at the end. John Dory is not everyone’s favourite, but in Nathan Outlaw’s version, coupled with a superb saffron aioli and roasted and pickled yellow kohlrabi, it exhibits the best in firm fleshiness. Cod, too, can be ho-hum unless treated with flair, and here it is salted for just 20 minutes, enough to remove excess liquid and to add tasty seasoning, and served with a sensational scampi tail and lobster mix and lobster sauce, resulting in a rich extravagance rarely found in UK restaurants. Not to be outdone, the king of fish, turbot, climaxed the piscine pageant with its hazelnut topping, deliciously syrupy red wine dressing, very mild roasted pickled onions and double-podded beans. Ironically, after our experience with someone else’s childhood memory experiments, the perfect strawberry ice cream crumble sandwich with added gooseberry and elderflower both stirred the tastebuds and the recollections and left us once more ready to share our memories of this meal with the fine dining world.
We expect nothing short of perfection when we dine at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, and once again we were not disappointed. Even the absence of the iconic Porthilly Sauce did not detract from our admiration of the wonderful sequence of dishes, and the dining room with its sea-front setting resonates with the sounds of satisfaction coming from the diners, the service led by Stephi Little is so friendly yet it retains a level of easy expertise, and the wine flight, concocted by sommelier Damon Little, supplies perfect matches with sometimes unfamiliar labels for each of the dishes. Sublime brill, cured by the master and decorated with cucumber and counterpointed with surprisingly subtle white chilli cream clusters was one of the pair of introductory dishes, the other being smooth and tender cured mackerel full of the proper fishiness that only fresh from the sea examples can bring, and here matched brilliantly with beetroot, apple and, of all things, bacon serving to balance the weight of the fish. Cod is often dismissed as dismal, ordinary, tasteless, but at RNO it’s not just cod but juicy melt-in-the-mouth salt cod, a whole new dimension, which when paired and contrasted with cuttlefish cooked in red wine and a red pepper jus was just amazing. Perfect scallops followed with just the right toasted finish on the unctuously tender flesh with crunchy hazelnuts providing textural subtlety, Jerusalem artichoke a slightly savoury tang and a subtle tartare hollandaise brought us to the next dish, lemon sole, a fish that is often underrated but which, in the hands of Nathan Outlaw, can almost be as rewarding as its distant cousin turbot with its delicate, slightly sweet-tasting flesh. We were treated to two generous fillets, one breaded, the other au naturel, accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli and spring watercress which set off the fish superbly. For the first of our two highly developed traditional-sounding but very modern desserts, oranges and lemons rang out from the St Clements meringue pie and were beautifully matched by a light yoghurt sorbet, and this was paralleled by the fresh tasting rhubarb and custard ice cream sandwich, a delight to behold and a pleasure to consume. As usual a truly outstanding dining experience and one to treasure, and as usual we continue to be puzzled by the ungenerous Michelin rating.
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