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On a good week, I get paid to criticise restaurants so it’s rare for me to find nothing to fault in a place. That unnerving occurrence did, however, come about last Saturday at Hugh F-W’s new River Cottage Canteen in Royal William Yard in Plymouth. The enclave of bold, forbidding waterside former naval buildings – once a symbol of British military might – has been made into a subtly chic (it’s Grade I listed) ensemble of apartments, boutique bakeries and restaurants facing Mount Edgcumbe over the Tamar in Cornwall. Frankly, it was all a blessed relief after the relentless bleakness of Plymouth city centre in the sheeting rain – it really takes no prisoners.

Service was quick and bend-over-backwards-forwards-any-way-you-like friendly, decor upcycled chic and food just as you might expect from the man of Fish Fight and farm life fame – wholesome but not boring. Splitting hairs, there is the small matter of the smug gilets-and-spotty-Cath-Kidston-bag brigade to be coped with but I can handle that just fine as long as it’s served with a perfectly cooked piece of pollack on a bed of subtly spiced lentils for a tenner (pictured below).

River Cottage Canteen & Deli Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Plymouth PL1 3QQ. http://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/plymouth/

Click through for pics of the food.. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’d like to share with you the “interesting” results of a fishing and sushi-making escapade on the coast of South Devon at the weekend. When it comes to sushi, pollock and wrasse aren’t the first fish that spring to mind – nor for that matter are crudely cut pieces of fish served on plastic plates on a distinctly unminimalist camping table but that’s by the by. When the fish has come straight out of the water, anything is fair game. Very fresh fish is almost odour-free (the fishy smell comes as it decomposes) and fine to eat raw.

So, with a few wrasse and pollock duly reeled in off the rocks, we filleted it and sliced it up, and served it ceremoniously with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce.

Here’s how it unfolded in pictures. In words, the verdicts were variously: ‘mmm… lovely’, ‘a little mushy in texture’, ‘oooh much nicer than I expected’, ‘I prefer salmon’, ‘the presentation needs work’, ‘you can’t just chop up a fish, serve it up and call it sushi’.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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