Fifteen Cornwall is the second ‘Fifteen’ restaurant, the first was set up in London by Jamie Oliver and started a pretty smart idea to train often troubled youngsters how to work in a kitchen and hopefully become professional chefs. It has been a great success. Many of the trainees have gone on to work and run their own restaurant or work in Fifteen.
The one in Cornwall kicked off in earnest in 2006, it’s housed in what is basically a big surfing hut, spectacularly overhanging the beach at Watergate Bay near Newquay. Miles of golden sand sprawls beneath, whilst surf height waves crash in the distance.
Whilst it is a big hut on the outside, it has been transformed inside into a 120 cover, high end, Italian restaurant. Unlike many High Street versions, you cant nip in here for a take away ham and pineapple pizza. Whilst many ingredients are sourced from Italy, the restaurant does use lots of local produce as well. The room is dominated by dozens of teardrop pendant lights and an open pass decorated by a gaudy/tasteful*, hip/uncool* mural (delete as applicable). The mural features imagery of Jamie Oliver and the recruits alongside managerial speak slogans. It seemed to create a talking point among many, so that can’t be a bad thing.
The flame and I ventured down there for a special weekend break (get you – Ed), we booked for the Saturday evening. We were placed onto a table that would ordinarily look out to sea, however, given it was late October and 8pm at night we gazed into a black abyss. We have been before a couple of years ago for breakfast and sat on the same table with the patio windows open, gazing out to a sun kissed waterline. Then it was arguably the best table anywhere. It was slightly less so tonight.
The restaurant was absolutely rammed, the atmosphere electric, buzzing with the chatter and clatter of hungry punters and teams of staff keeping it all in check. We were served throughout by the wonderful Clare Louise, who helped us through the trendy, five course taster menu (£60 each) with clarity, passion and a big smile. It looked like everyone was getting the same treatment.
By opting for the taster menu I was aware that the courses would be smaller. Having watched head chef Andy Appleton cook a huge, longhorn, ribeye steak at a demo earlier in the day I was tempted to go for that, but just about resisted.
After bread, olives and dips our Antipasto course was a stuffed, deep fried courgette flower. The flame grew some of these this summer so I’ve done these myself. This was as good as mine (you’re showing off – Ed). Piping hot ricotta, deep fried within the flower in a light batter.
Next we had our ‘Insalata’ course, the flame had a buffalo mozzarella salad with heritage tomatoes, whilst I hoovered up a delicate lobster tail salad with the trimmings. It was all becoming rather agreeable. We sampled a couple of decent wines along the way.
Primi course, I had a sensational pulled lamb ragout with fancy pasta strips. This course in particular was sublime. The ragout rich and flavoursome, the lamb stranded in a deep, luscious sauce. Across the table sweet potato tortellini was being washed down with roasted peppers and an appropriate jus.
Secondi I had slithers of soft, pink duck breast on a base of soft polenta whilst the flame had a beautifully cooked fillet of brill layered on a pepperonata. This arguably the dish of the night. The flame granted half a fork full for me to taste.
For our Dolci I had a seriously chocolatey, chocolate tart with raspberry washed down with a snifter of Sauternes. The flame tucked into the cheese board with a coffee and petit fours.
It was a memorable occasion and will remain one of our favourite haunts. The heady combination of location, atmosphere, drama and sheer quality of food and service make Fifteen Cornwall a trick not to be missed. If you are down this neck of the woods you will discover that you are only ten miles down the coast from Padstow and Rock, home of some of the Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw outlets. I have tried these on a previous trip and would easily put a night at Fifteen Cornwall up against these. None can match Fifteen for the atmosphere and view. As Michael Winner once said “I don’t reserve a restaurant I reserve a table”. There’s some very nice tables at Fifteen Cornwall.
On The Beach