The approach to the Jamie Oliver inspired Fifteen Cornwall, possibly the best restaurant in Cornwall, is a little unusual. You cross the car park in front of The Hotel and Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay on Cornwall's north coast between Padstow and Newquay, and head towards a low wooden wall. The only indication that you are in the right place is the tall flags emblazoned with 'fifteen'. You descend the steps in the corner of the car park and enter the restaurant.
We had booked for dinner at 18:45 hours on a Friday evening. We arrived at the restaurant on time and were made to feel welcome and then shown to our table by the maitre d' without delay. Our table was by the window looking out over the extensive sandy beach of the wonderful Watergate Bay. It must be one of the best restaurant views in Cornwall if not the world. We also had a good view of the restaurant's open plan kitchen, which throughout our visit seemed well under control.
Within a short time, our waitress arrived at the table with our menus and wine list. In the evenings, Fifteen Cornwall serves its five courses 'Evening Tasting Menu'.
There is an optional 'wine tasting package' which Fifteen Cornwall has "designed to make your dining experience that little bit more special with a tasting measure of wine to match each course". The wine tasting package comprises five glasses of wine. We had already enjoyed a glass of champagne before arriving at Fifteen Cornwall and decided that another five glasses of wine might be too much, so we opted for a bottle of New Zealand's Marlborough Opawa Sauvignon Blanc, 2007.
There was one item on the menu that I was not familiar with so I asked our waitress about it. She was clearly knowledgeable about the menu and was able to explain to me that Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream.
We ordered our meals and wine and a jug of tap water. Both the wine and water were served promptly along with a selection of "Ken's bread and the biggest green olives from Puglia".
For our appetizers, we both had (there is no choice) char grilled violette artichoke with ricotta salata and a roast garlic and sage arancini. The presentation and taste were perfect.
For the next course (Insalate), I had Insalata of gooey burrata, juicy roasted pear, Buttervilla funky leaves, walnuts and aged balsamic. My wife had Bresaola della Valtellina with beautifully dressed candy beets, Newlina's wild rocket and Parmigiano Reggiano. Again, the presentation and taste were perfect.
Next (Primi) came The lightest potato gnocchi with Bocoddan Farm rose veal ragu and horseradish gremolata for me and Tortellini of Italian Iron Bark pumpkin with mostarda di fiche, ameretti and crispy sage for my wife. Perfect again.
For the main course (Secondi) I had Seared Cornish hand dived scallops, lenticchie di Castellucio, Tuscan kale with anchovy aioli and spicy salami and my wife had Roast Higher Laity Farm lamb saddle stuffed with groats pudding, creamy borlotti beans, cavolo, chilli and mint dressing. One of my scallops was very slightly over cooked, but I have to say the combination of the scallops and spicy salami is sensational.
For the final course (Dolci e Formaggi) we both choose to have cheese: St. Endellion, Menallack Farmhouse, Ragstone, Blu Di Capra with truffled honey and Ken's fantastic fruit and nut bread, together with a glass of the recommended Francesco Candido Aleatico, Salice Salentino 2002, from Puglia, Italy. The Blu Di Capra was particularly good and the recommended wine suited the course very well.
To finish we had coffee and "sweet things".
Throughout the meal, Fifteen Cornwall's waitresses were very attentive without being obtrusive. Although we did not have the Fifteen Cornwall 'wine tasting package', two tables adjacent to us did; the sommeliers explained the wines chosen to accompany each course and answered questions. They were clearly knowledgeable about their subject.
Is there anything I would change? Yes. I would ban the use of mobile phones in the restaurant area; the "gentleman" at one of the tables close to us spent nearly the whole evening on his Blackberry - not talking, but pressing buttons. And, I would commission some smarter, cleaner looking uniforms for the waiters and waitresses.
Fifteen Cornwall's 'Evening Tasting Menu' costs £48.95 per person. Our wine cost a further £36 (Fifteen Cornwall's wine is a little on the expensive side). With service, the whole bill came to £147 for the two of us. It was well worth it!
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