DINNER AT BARNABY’S BISTRO
The most recent addition to Padstow’s thriving food scene is Barnaby’s Bistro, which opened at the end of April 2018.
The restaurant is the latest venture from Rick and Katie Toogood, who also own the two Prawn on the Lawn restaurants, one in Islington, the other in Padstow.
Located on Duke Street, the building was previously a chintzy tea room, and has had a total transformation at the hands of the Toogoods.
The deep blue walls make for a cosy, intimate atmosphere; wooden benches and chairs are piled with cushions and sheepskins; and the scrubbed pine table tops are adorned with stylish gold cutlery and some of the loveliest tableware.
Barnaby’s is named after Rick’s grandfather, George Barnaby; the gorgeous bee logo was designed by a cousin, Daisy Bird.
The restaurant itself is small and relaxed, with just 18 covers. The kitchen is open to the room, so you can watch your meal being cooked, and to get to the bathroom you sneak through the kitchen to the back of the restaurant, where you’ll find one of the smartest loos in town. I particularly liked the dark blue bottles of Neal’s Yard beeswax products – very on brand! – and tiny hexagonal tiles.
The bar divides the dining area and kitchen, with a few carefully chosen beers on tap, an impressive wine list, and restaurant manager/sommelier Harriet on hand to help choose the perfect match.
In contrast to the small plates and large platters served at Prawn on the Lawn (which, incidentally, we love! Read our review), the Barnaby’s Bistro menu is more traditionally comprised of the starters, main courses and desserts.
Rick (pictured) has a talent for combining ingredients, and producing a dish which is way more than the sum of its parts. Classic French meets Asian and Spanish, with a hefty twist of Cornish thrown in for good measure.
Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible; the menu features vegetables from Padstow Kitchen Garden, fish from Padstow and St Ives, beef from Padstow Farm Shop, and sourdough from Coombeshead Farm.
There are olives, and sourdough with homemade seaweed butter, to nibble on while choosing from the menu, although we skipped these in anticipation of a large meal.
My starter was a cured mackerel fillet, which had the most succulent texture, and was served with slivers of crisp radish, charcoal crème fraîche, and seaweed. Right from the start the flavours packed a punch; a little of everything in each bite made every mouthful a delight.
Jim opted for a bowl of clams with white port, coriander oil and heaps of garlic. These sat upon a slice of Coombeshead sourdough which soaked up the sauce like a massive crouton.
For my main course I chose what was simply described as “Padstow Crab, saffron baked rice, fennel salad”.
The huge crab shell was packed with a baked saffron and brown crabmeat risotto, and topped with heaps of white crabmeat, crunchy ‘nduja crumb and a huge crab claw. This dish was so savoury and moreish; the ‘nduja crumb gave it an essential bit of texture, and yet more flavour.
The accompanying fennel salad was sharp and fresh, perfectly balancing the richness of the risotto. I think I may have said “I could eat this every day”…
Upon recommendation from a friend, Jim chose the Barnaby’s Burger. The minced beef was from Padstow Farm Shop (some of the best meat around), and had been mixed with truffle and lardo to form the ultimate burger.
Also tucked into the toasted bap were Cornish Jack cheese, pickles and salad. On the side, the little bowl of chipotle mayo had a decent kick to it, and the shoestring fries (with slivers of fried garlic and rosemary) were incredible.
The main courses were generous, but somehow we also managed to devour a bowl of sweet, charred French beans, which were topped with a dollop of delicious pesto and chopped pistachios.
Jim’s pud was a perfectly baked apple. In the mix was a hint of cinnamon, charred walnuts, and the genius addition of salted caramel frozen custard.
I really enjoyed my rice pudding, which was served lukewarm (not hot), and was deliciously creamy. Pieces of crunchy honeycomb and just-poached rhubarb (again, the first of Padstow Kitchen Garden’s crop) added sweetness, sharpness and texture.
In summary, this was a fantastic meal, with immense flavours and superb ingredients, in a comfortable, friendly, and professional little bistro. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone who enjoys good food, and I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular. Booking essential!
Barnaby’s Bistro, 22A Duke Street, Padstow, PL28 8AB. For reservations please call 01841 533845.
Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch (12pm – 2.45pm) and dinner (6pm – 11.30pm). View current menu.
We were guests of Barnaby’s Bistro for the evening. Thank you to Rick and Katie for inviting us to dinner, and for their generous hospitality.
All photos (apart from book cover) ©️ Barefoot Media.
Earlier this year, Prawn on the Lawn launched its first cookbook, “Fish and Seafood to Share”. Chapters include Cold Tapas, Hot Tapas, Large Plates, Sides, Desserts and Cocktails.
As well as giving an insight into the lives of Rick and Katie Toogood, all the recipes I’ve tried have worked very well. They are carefully thought out, well tested (so they work in a home kitchen), and clearly laid out.
It is available to buy online via Amazon.