Not only does Cornwall have an incredible landscape, beautiful coastlines and a wealth of history, there is also a thriving the food scene that has never been so good as it is now. Today the county boasts world-class chefs, Michelin star restaurants and some exceptional produce. With so many wonderful places on offer it was hard to narrow down where to try but I chose to spend our first night eating at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, a two Michelin star restaurant in Port Isaac, around a 45 minute drive from The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth.
The eponymous chef is based in Cornwall and has become one of the most well-known chefs in the UK. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is his flagship restaurant in Cornwall but he has three others in the area including the more relaxed Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, The Mariners Public House, and Outlaw’s at the Enodoc Hotel. He also runs Outlaw’s at the Capital Hotel in London and splits his time between the two areas of the UK.
Despite it’s two star status, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw has a very casual setting, with rough wood tables, oak beams, soft beige walls and pictures of fish on the wall giving it a relaxed and rather beachy feel, perfect for the Cornish location. There is only one menu for dinner, an eight-course seafood tasting menu with an optional matching wine flight though for lunch there’s a more wallet-friendly four-course set menu.
We decided to go for the whole shebang of the tasting menu and wine flight but also decided to kick off with a glass of our favourite champagne, Laurent-Perrier.
The first course was a light and delicate cured monkfish with ginger, fennel and lemon which was paired with Sparkling Koshu. I’d never had Koshu before but it’s a sparkling wine from Japan, made with grapes as opposed to sake which is made by fermenting rice. It was a very beautiful pairing as the very light wine didn’t overpower the delicate flavours of the fish.
Served alongside the monkfish was raw scallop with preserved herring, chilli, onion and bacon, again a really beautiful combination of flavours that was paired with a local Cornish wine, Trevannion 2013 from the Knightor Winery.
I wasn’t really aware of the Cornish vineyards before coming to visit but apparently the mild Cornish climate is suitable for growing particular grape varieties. We also enjoyed the local Camel Valley Sparkling wine that we tried elsewhere on our trip.
Red Mullet with kohrabi and wild garlic was a beautiful array of colours and the rather simple dish was one of our favourites of the evening.
Nathan began his career early on but moved to Cornwall at the age of twenty and it was while training with Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow that he developed a love for seafood cookery. At Restaurant Nathan Outlaw the tasting menu is composed almost entirely of Cornish seafood and it is this combination of excellent produce, passion and innovation that led him achieve two-Michelin stars in 2011 and retain them ever since.
Next up was a beautifully cooked gurnard enhanced with a deliciously creamy Portilly sauce made from local crabs, a slightly more decadent dish which paired beautifully with a ‘O Rosal’ wine from Galicia. It was really interesting to note the different preparation methods showcased on the menu and Nathan claims that one reason that he loves fish so much is that every variety provides a different challenge in how to make the most out of the flavour and texture.
Our final fish dish was a turbot with spring vegetables and green dressing, a fairly simple dish which allowed the fresh flavours of the fish to be the star of the show. We got chatting to the sommelier who offered up a wine from his native South Africa to pair with this dish and it turned out that he was married to the front of house lady. As with other restaurants we’d visited in Cornwall, there’s a real family environment to Nathan Outlaw which makes it feel so homely and friendly. Nathan himself met his wife Rachel whilst she was working front of house at the The Seafood Restaurant and they now have two children together.
The cheese course allowed us to try some more of that delicious local produce and we very much enjoyed the Cornish Jack, a Swiss-style cheese with a taste similar to Emmental, served with celery and walnuts.
As the menu was all fish, it was very light and we were still ready for our trio of desserts, an orange and rhubarb concoction with cream and a perfect seasonal spiced quince and hazelnut tart. As I don’t like dessert wine, the sommelier gave me another glass of the delicious sparkling Koshu in place of the Moscato d’Asti. The Japanese wine had just the right amount of sweetness to pair beautifully with the fruity desserts.
After a mint tea and some petit fours we staggered down the stairs pretty full and
very a little drunk only to come face to face (sort of) with Nathan Outlaw himself, all 6 foot 5 of him! It was really wonderful to know that the man himself had been in the kitchen that night, as he often is, and we ended up having a good chat with him. He told us about his day-to-day life running the restaurants, and gave us a few recommendations of what to have for lunch the next day. Our dinner at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw was a really very special experience with wonderful food, excellent service and the unexpected surprise of meeting the chef at the end of the night.
PIN FOR LATER:
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
6 New Road