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My next discovery in January was the truly fresh-thinking Strong Adolfo’s, recently opened right on the Atlantic Highway. That’s the A39 to those having a more functional day.
The idea of an American-style roadside joint is very clever for Cornwall. This is somewhere where the road-trip rules – even if it’s just from one end of Cornwall to the other, as in my case. We spend our lives fiddling about with miniature parking spaces and one-way streets, so the excess of easy parking at Strong Adolfo’s is – interestingly or boringly – a big draw.
John and Mathilda Friström Eldridge have clearly put heart and soul into opening this place, where the spanking new building and aspirational detail throughout reveal energy and commitment.
The Finisterre-jacket-and-vintage-furniture crew were occupying all available tables on the Saturday I went, so I think we can safely say that this cool cat is out of the bag.
In this most dead of seasons in the far west, it’s a struggle to find somewhere open for any sort of refreshment, let alone somewhere cosy or chic. All the more fun, then, to discover not one but two interesting new cafes in the space of a few weeks. First up, the Dog & Rabbit in St Just. As befits a cafe in this most herbal and tight-knit of towns, it’s mellow and hand-knitted, with recycled cardboard for clipboards, vintage furniture, and a table selling home-made jam and properly free-range eggs.
(Marks deducted for being about to close in February!)
18 Bank Square, St Just, TR19 7HJ Penzance, Cornwall. T 01736 449811. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Dog-and-Rabbit\
Forget the insipid buns peddled year round at Tesmorrisains (thanks go to this exiled Penwithian on twitter for that catch-all), Cornish Hen deli’s exemplar is the real deal. 75p each or three for £2. Market Place, opposite Lloyds, Penzance.
Hurrah, the little vintage caravan on the prom lives on, this year with new owners (one of which is none other than knitted freak lady Katie Lennon of Heyday) and under a cute new name, Little Wonder.
As well as the arrival of Starry-Gazy Cupcakes on the menu, the other news is that it’s not waiting till the official ‘season’ to trundle on to the prom – it’s open weekends from now. Yes, that’s correct, it is February and there is no cover – just how I like it. A hot cup of tea and a chill in the air… makes me feel like I’m camping.
Views across Mount’s Bay, yours for £1.50 for a cuppa, £3 with cupcake. Naturally, I dream about them serving wine… We so badly need somewhere nice outdoors for a sundowner* in this town.
*amongst other things
It also sells cards by the wonderful local design & print studio Pirrip Press.
More pics here Read the rest of this entry »
The guys at Heyday put on these vintage and handmade markets every now and again – I love them. There’s one today until 4pm downstairs at the Acorn. I came back with some knitted freaks, a pack of vintage flower cigarette cards, handmade cards, a starey-gazy cupcake (nice) and a bon bec bag by Alexandra Higlett.
On a stranger note, has anyone noticed how the Acorn sign has grown some sort of seaweedy mushrooms?!
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.
When you are in a post-industrial hinterland like this…
… you don’t expect to find a clean-lined little artisan bakery cafe like this:
And this bold randomness is exactly what I love about Baker Tom’s new canteen-chic bakery outlet. It’s located in the murky depths of the Pool Industrial Estate, one of the most unforgiving, bleak and neglected areas of Cornwall. The move is all the more intriguing when you consider that Tom Hazeldine’s other two bijou outlets are located on Truro and Falmouth’s most desirable shopping streets.
‘We’ve had our main bakery on this site for a year,’ Tom explained to me, ‘And we quickly realised there is nowhere for all the people who work in the area – from office workers to NHS midwives to truckers – to get something decent to eat or a nice coffee. It is quite a brave move as there are no tourists here and there is no view – we are on an industrial estate next to a brewery yard, a meat factory and Furniss biscuits.’
I think all Cornish residents get a bit tired of ‘lifestyle’ Cornwall, airbrushed and geared up for six weeks of tourist dough – the overpriced sandwich, the perfect view, the indifferent coffee – so for me there’s something interesting and creative about this place.
In the event that the homemade jam, fluffy fresh croissants and speciality breads should not be enough to pull you off-course to this post-mining desert, perhaps Baker Tom’s claim to the ‘nicest loo in Pool’ will? The recently opened Heartlands is just around the corner too. As, of course, is Ladds Concrete Products (a personal favourite), Low Cost Storage and TyreFinders!
The Bakery Cafe, Wilson Way, Pool Industrial Estate, Redruth, Cornwall. Open breakfast, lunch and snacks. All sandwiches £4.95, pasties £2.50, breakfasts from £2.50. www.bakertom.co.uk
I went to these guys’ Christmas Mart at Chapel Street’s Trevelyan House and emerged happily with several ‘knitted freaks‘ (see second row above & pic below – they make the world a better place), silkscreen-printed wrapping paper and cards by Studio No.6, and a few fine slabs of brownie. They (that’s Heyday Presents) are holding a May Mart on Friday and Saturday in Penzance – see poster below for full detailage.
Alert! Alert! I just discovered a perfect little place out on the Lizard, on a wind-beaten cliff above Gunwalloe. For the past year, word has been reaching me of Barefoot Kitchen being ‘right up my street’ and when I finally made it over to this remote area of Cornwall, so indeed it was. Right up my muddy, single-vehicle-access Cornish lane, in any case.
Occupying Helzephron House (previously home to the Helzephron Herb Farm), this cafe/shop has the kind of pared down intuitive design that makes me think a Swede MUST have been involved at some stage. The shop has a small selection of products, some their own, others carefully chosen, for example gorse-scented candles, the Ghillie kettle, retro wooden bodyboards, earring studs made of softened seaglass, seaweed design aprons… I wanted to bring it all home. The coffee was great, the fish soup fragrant.
Whenever my sister comes to stay with her array of sharp camera lenses, I demand immediate possession of the memory stick so I can use the pictures on pasties & cream, hence an artier than usual selection – and several more photography-based posts on their way.
Oh and Barefoot is opening a surf school in coming months AND does pop-up restaurants in conjunction with Lime Tree. AND there are sea views, when the rain’s not slashing against the window.
Like any girl, I swoon at the sight of vintage crockery, bunting, wild flowers and cakes (in pretty much any combination), so imagine my excitement at this pop-up tea shop called Tea by the Sea, which pitched up in the old shipping container that is currently on Penzance prom as part of Cornwall Design Season.
Despite being the only seaside prom in Cornwall – with twinkling views – Penzance prom is quite a bare kind of place. Occasionally, and seemingly randomly, a few potted palms appear, but then they disappear as mysteriously as Read the rest of this entry »
I think one way or another we all suffer from bouts of green fatigue. Does anyone else, as they toss a lone newspaper in the recycling bin, get a weary feeling of futility? Surely, I can’t help thinking, it is going to take a shitload more than this to get ourselves out of this mess.
The revolution starts at home, and don’t get me wrong Read the rest of this entry »
At the weekend, under heavy grey skies, I set off with friends from Feock for Tolverne Cottage on the eastern side of the Fal, via the King Harry Ferry (free for pedestrians). It’s a serene part of Cornwall – and you can cut through on a footpath through the woodland attached precariously to the banks.
On arrival at Smugglers’ Cottage, we found what was once one of Cornwall’s most eccentric teahouses looking considerably more dapper, having been taken over by Tregothnan of tea fame.
‘Oh,’ said one of our party, ‘It’s been Farrow and Balled’.
That pretty much summed up my unedited response to the new understated colour scheme and smart garden furniture. Gone was the endearing eccentricity of the place (though all the nautical curios that once hung from all available spaces will appear in a soon-to-open museum) and in their place was a National Trust look, silver trays and lots of beige.
I think I am probably taking out my frustrations about wider issues on this one, ultimately very pleasant spot – it’s hardly like Starbucks has just pitched up in the woods on the River Fal. There is nothing wrong, and plenty right, with tasteful aesthetics and high-quality cream teas but, like all forms of gentrification, in large quantities it starts to feel like it’s endangering the very character of a place – ie the bit people liked in the first place.
I feel that on some level this is what is happening with Cornwall. Where it was once a novelty to have a pricey cappuccino in chic surroundings by the beach, it now seems to be an essential part of the business plan of every beach, cove or garden – and I can’t help thinking that if I’d really wanted to be drip-fed lattes after every muddy walk, surf and wild view, I wouldn’t have moved to England’s most remote county!
On a similar note, Read the rest of this entry »
The name doesn’t lie – the Cabin Café, by the beach at Perranuthnoe, is indeed just a cabin. It’s not, as is fairly common in Cornwall, a case of a restaurant trying to inject some laid-back beach vibes into its name (The Beach Hut at Watergate Bay, say, or the Porthminster Beach Café in St Ives…). This is a common or garden wooden shed with a hatch, and a handful of picnic tables and garden chairs alongside – no pretension, no silly prices, no rain cover.
But against the odds, it just happens to be serving some of Cornwall’s best beach food – and, after years of Read the rest of this entry »
This month I will be mainly eating Warrens’ saffron cake-hot cross bun outcross. Much softer and fluffier than orthodox Cornish saffron cake – one part of the holy trinity of Cornish delicacies* – and more vivid in colour and flavour than standard-issue hot cross buns. Easter only. 80p for a four-pack!
*The other two parts of the trinity being, of course,
my namesake pasties and cream.