Our first visit to Paul Ainsworth’s restaurant No.6 in Padstow, Cornwall was absolutely faultless; cracking food and service and totally deserving of its Michelin star. On a return visit to the area with my parents, I couldn’t resist dragging them in for lunch. If you haven’t been to Padstow before, you really must; it’s a beautiful harbour town which is filled with great restaurants.
As it was half term, the restaurant was packed, giving it a really lovely and relaxed atmosphere. The building used to be a guest house which is obvious because the dining room is split into different rooms; it’s a very charming space.
To kick things off the bread really hit the spot; warm sourdough served alongside some creamy butter and a smoked cods roe topped with bits of crackling. You can always tell how good a restaurant is by the effort and quality of their bread offering – here, it was second to none.
To start, the Porthilly oysters (£13) were served three ways; natural, escabeche and crisp. The latter had been deep fried and breadcrumbed giving it a beautifully crisp exterior. The plain oyster was served atop a seawater granita which lacked flavour but the quality and flavour of the oyster itself was sublime. The escabeche was a tangy little number which provided plenty of oomph.
The spring salad (£12) wasn’t just your average veggie option; it featured asparagus tips and peas topped with a crisp poached egg drizzled with truffle sauce. The torched Cornish mackerel (£12) was as beautiful to eat as it was to look at with its crisp skin and soft, oily flesh.
The potted chicken (£10) was topped with crispy shards of Parmesan and chicken skin which made every mouthful totally moreish. As a gift from the kitchen we were kindly treated to the duck liver parfait (£13) which was served with some ‘toasted clotted cream brioche’ – phwooaarr! The brioche came in mini Hovis tins which was a sweet touch.
Mains were not only extremely filling but bloomin’ tasty too. Day boat monkfish (£30) was easily the best piece of monkfish I’ve ever eaten and the fact that it was served with bone marrow and a beef shin salad, well, what can I say. Day boat cod (£28) came with the skin removed and then placed back on the fish in precision cut squares which were insanely crispy. The mound of Port Isaac crab was a great addition too.
My Mum opted for Paul’s ‘First Dish’ (£26) which was the first on his menu back in 2005. It was a caramelised shallot tart with blue cheese which was light and delicate yet at the same time punchy with its flavours.
Feeling pretty stuffed (which is rare for my family) we all decided to share Paul’s 2011 Great British Menu winning pudding ‘A Trip to the Fairground’ (£24). It was quite a spectacle as it was placed on the table – there was chocolate covered honeycomb studded with popping candy, toffee apples sitting atop marshmallows, raspberry mousse served in copper pots, cinnamon dusted donuts and a glass filled with peanut parfait and popcorn. If you’re a pudding lover this is as close to an orgasm as you’re likely to find in a restaurant!
I had a strong feeling I was going to enjoy my lunch at No.6 and I’m glad I wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t just the food however that really made the experience so memorable – the service is some of the friendliest you’re likely to find anywhere too. It’s also passionate and knowledgeable which it so often isn’t these days. A trip to Cornwall really isn’t complete without a meal here.