22 November 2017
Our introduction to this restaurant was in the form of a rather perfunctory welcome, and unfortunately this presaged the situation for the rest of the evening, for, with the notable exception of Alessandro, the excellent sommelier, the staff were rather below the level expected of a one-star restaurant, and inevitably we had to draw an unfavourable comparison with the Port Isaac team. Once we had been seated there was something of a hiatus before we were able to give our order, which was rather a contrast with the swift service of the dishes on the tasting menu, a feature perhaps of this being a hotel restaurant. Luckily there were some nice rosemary bread rolls to supplement the one canapé, smoked cod’s roe on a seeded cracker, but we were soon tucking into the starter, cured fish in the Outlaw tradition. This one was whisky-cured salmon, the whisky to the fore, the saffron kohlrabi accompaniment very good with the salmon and not at all overpowering and the horseradish yoghurt was a nice touch. Although octopus used to be a turn-off for a lot of people we’ve always been keen on it and after ten seconds in the deep-fat frier this version was not bad, along with some cold slices, a useful bread sauce, almonds and a tarragon sauce which came through very well. We are always pleased to have brill which is one of our three top favourites, and here the fresh, tasty fish was boosted by a super deep-fried (again) oyster, a parsley, rocket and mint hollandaise and well cooked kale. Being familiar with the wonderful Porthilly sauce in the Cornwall restaurant our curiosity was raised by the appearance of Port Isaac sauce with the bass dish. The difference between them, this version being darker and with a different taste and consistency, was explained to us as being down to which locality the shellfish were obtained from. The bass was good with a nice crispy skin and was an interesting match with the sauce. We passed on the cheese and the desserts were soon on the table, my wife having a very light custard tart with a lovely gingerbread ice cream and quince, the other being an attractive mix of stout cake, plain chocolate mousse, ice cream and kumquats. Overall we felt that the food was not bad, but the experience was not up to the standard we would expect from such a highly-rated venue.