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If you live in these parts, and are into such things, you will probably have heard about a little seafood restaurant down an alleyway in Falmouth called the Wheelhouse. Despite actively shunning publicity, it is booked for months in advance and seems to get choice mentions regularly in the media as a den of great awesomeness. Last week, finally, a table had my name on it*.

When restaurants become this desirable, a whiff of pretension can creep in – a subtle revelling in the lack of available tables, or complacent service, contributing to a feeling that we should be so lucky. But despite my tentacles being out, I found the mellow, candlelit scene to be a down-to-earth pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, the Wheelhouse is certainly confident – waitresses take a seat and chat assuredly about the merits of spider crab, the size of mussels and seasonality – but thankfully it is still eager to please.

So, you might ask, what’s the biggie? Well, the story is this: Read the rest of this entry »

Cafes don’t get a whole lot smaller than Genki in St Agnes, which is to all intents and purposes a painted hut with a few cosily packed tables, occupied on my visit by Finisterre-clad surfers. But this particular little beach hut has a few other strings to its bow: a sweet Zen-style cafe garden inspired by the owners’ time in Japan, free wifi, and a serious smoothie menu.

Smoothies are often the most expensively disappointing thing on cafe menus in this country – insubstantial and never cold enough. But something told me to try my luck on the Mavericks Mocha Smoothie (£3.50), which contains banana, cocoa, peanut butter and espresso. It was stupendous – thick, ice-cold, filling, sweet not sickly. Crap cafes of Cornwall, take note.

Quay Road, St Agnes, 01872 555 858. Follow Genki on twitter here.

Thought I’d post the link to an article I’ve written for the Guardian about cheap eats along the north coast of Cornwall – it’s part of a bigger interactive online Guardian guide to Cornwall, with lots of top 10 lists, from family days out (written by p&c friend Hayley Spurway) to campsites and B&Bs.

List journalism has its critics but when it comes to easy reading, no one can resist a nicely focused top 10 – if only to gripe about all the better places/things YOU would have put in instead. My brief was lunch for £10, which turned out to be a tall order along the north coast of Cornwall – somewhere that relies on the tourist pound, the sea view and the cornered market.

Still, I think I found some gooduns – from the St Kew Harvest, a sourcing-savvy farmshop cafe, to Blas, everyone’s favourite gourmet burger, via Relish, probably Cornwall’s best coffee. I had to kiss a few frogs along the way – supermarket-style bread in expensive places, limp pasties, dusty falafel – but am resisting the temptation to name and shame ;)

Read my complete top 10 here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/mar/14/top-10-budget-restaurants-north-cornwall

blas-restaurant st ives cornwall

blas burgerworks, the st ives burger people

One of my favourite Penwith restaurants – tiny Blas Burgerworks in St Ives – has teamed up with one of my favourite Penwith singer-songwriters – Gulval’s Jenny Bishop –  for a night of gourmet burgers and emotionally charged acoustic songs to celebrate its fourth birthday on Saturday 13th March.

Being an absolutely minute space – the average size of a Cornish cottage living room (which is what it probably once was) – Blas is really just a cosy cluster of tables and a scattering of stools made from recycled materials. All have already been nabbed for the 8.45-9.30pm sitting; book now for a perch at the earlier 7.30-8.15pm session.

Blas makes a good case for specialising – they only do one dish, but they’ve nailed it. Cornish-sourced, freerange burgers with chunky chips start at £8.

The scary prospect of Pizza Express setting up in the old Woolworths premises in St Ives is enough to make me want to add extra weight to my praise. Blas represents everything that ‘new’ St Ives does well: it’s small, creative, sensitive and a one-off.

jenny bishop cornwall

singer-songwriter jenny bishop

bordelais by vicky's bread cornwall

bordelais by vicky's bread

Is it just me or is there a micro trend going on in Cornwall for artisanal bread? There’s Baker Tom, Baker Steve, Baker Bob, Barbara…

OK I made the last two up. But the one I am obsessing about is Vicky’s Bread from the Lizard, to the extent that when I found out she had gone on holiday and production had temporarily ceased, I must have been visibly distressed – Lavenders suggested I reserve a loaf for the morning of her first day back to avoid disappointment!

Since chancing upon one of her round Bordelais loaves – crispy topped, chewy inside – in Archie Browns last year, I have been buying the stuff religiously. All the loaves are baked in traditional French style – slow-risen in willow baskets – but the Bordelais is still my favourite.

Vicky sells in Lavenders (6a Alverton Street) and Archie Brown’s in Penzance, as well as Fore Street Deli in St Ives, and other outlets throughout west Cornwall – all independents.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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