DINNER AT STARGAZY INN
Stargazy Inn sits just across the road from Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac. It’s a bold move to offer a £75 tasting menu so close to the best restaurant in the UK (as chosen by The Good Food Guide in 2017, 2018 and 2019). However, head chef Andrew Sheridan is a confident, ambitious and talented chef, and now Port Isaac is firmly established as a “foodie” destination, there’ll be no shortage of diners to enjoy Stargazy’s menu.
The inn reopened in April after a full refurb, and the Victorian villa now boasts a beautiful bar and restaurant, as well as nine gorgeous bedrooms. The property is owned by David Barnard, who also owns Port Gaverne Hotel and Pilchards Café, and will be recognised by many as Wenn House in Doc Martin.
Andrew Sheridan relocated to Cornwall to head up Stargazy’s kitchen, and is renowned for his appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu in 2018 and again this year. At the time of writing Andrew has won the first regional round (representing Wales) and we are awaiting the next stage of the 2019 competition to be aired.
Ever keen to try new restaurants, we visited Stargazy Inn for dinner with friends on a beautiful evening at the beginning of May. We were treated to the best table in the house, with far reaching views out to sea.
Having seen photos of Andrew’s food on Instagram, and watched him cook on telly, we had high hopes for our meal, and weren’t disappointed. We had one of each of the snacks, the first being “cheese and onion crisps” (pictured above). These were compressed potato crisps with a goats’ cheese mousse and onion marmalade. Very clever and moreish.
The second snack comprised shards of crisp chicken skin, topped with a chicken liver parfait and elderflower gel. These really got our mouths watering as we awaited our starters.
The Scotch egg was rather special: a soft boiled partridge egg was surrounded with kedgeree (containing Cornish smoked haddock and peas), coated with a crispy squid ink crumb, and served with a fantastic curry sauce.
My mackerel was equally delicious. The soft flesh of the fish contrasted with the torched skin, and the accompaniments, including pickled cucumbers and dill ice cream, gave just the perfect balance of acidity and richness.
Our friend enjoyed his salt baked beetroot with whipped cod’s roe and goats’ cheese – a strong dish with well balanced flavours.
The lamb main course was so pretty. Adorned with wild garlic flowers, the succulent Cornish lamb loin was served with crispy lamb belly, Roscoff onions, confit garlic, wilted wild garlic leaves, pickled onions, onion mayonnaise and aubergine purée. It tasted as good as it looks.
The “Plymouth Cod Five Ways” dish (below) is one Andrew cooked for the fish course of this year’s Great British Menu. Wow – this stunning plate of colour and texture had it all: cod loin, cod cheek deep fried in a squid ink batter, cod skin crisps, salt and vinegar chips, lemon gel, pea purée, dill oil and cod roe mayonnaise.
I thoroughly enjoyed my main course of “Pressed Pig” (below). Pickled white asparagus sat on pressed pork belly – this was a match made in heaven. The acidity and crunch of the delicately flavoured asparagus perfectly complemented the rich, soft pork. Alongside this sat pork cheek, blanched St Enodoc asparagus, grains and seeds, and a pine nut purée.
Jim’s burger was impressive! The chunky beef burger was topped with St Mawes lobster tail rarebit, served in a homemade bun with dill powder, lobster mayo and tomato. Not such a refined plate of food as the other main course dishes, but extremely tasty, and the lemon and dill fries were very good too.
The raspberry pudding was a homemade fairing biscuit moulded into a tart shape, topped with lemon curd, fresh raspberries, raspberry jelly and raspberry sorbet, and a sprinkling of lemon zest for a bit of zing. This was fresh, bright and summery.
My dessert was amazing. The brownie itself was moist and delicious; covered with passion fruit and fresh and toasted coconut, it was served with a coconut foam and passion fruit sorbet. The dark chocolate was really lifted by the other sweet and sharp flavours.
Our friend’s two enormous profiteroles were topped with saffron cream, orange segments and candied pistachios. “Don’t worry, it’s all air”, we said. Only to discover that they were filled with a fabulous date cookie crumble. Not a scrap was left on the plate.
Last, but definitely not least, the Great British Menu rice pudding (which Andrew cooked for the 2018 series) was a cold, set rice pudding, with the addition of Chantilly cream to lighten it. On top sat almond praline, apple purée, pickled blackberries and a very clever hay infused ice cream. We were all very impressed by the shards of dehydrated milk skin, created by roasting milk, removing the skin, and dehydrating it. It’s no surprise that two of the judges gave this dish 10/10.
I haven’t mentioned the wine; when we visited, Claudio, the sommelier, was in the process of building the wine list, so there wasn’t a huge choice. Claudio did, however, select a delicious crisp and fresh organic Chardonnay from Mallorca and a really good d’Arenberg Noble Mud Pie sweet dessert wine for us, and I have confidence that he is hugely knowledgeable and will create a fantastic cellar.
The à la carte menu worked out at around £45 per person, excluding drinks. There is also a seven course tasting menu available (which includes the crispy snacks, mackerel, lamb, chocolate brownie and rice pudding, plus bread with butters, and an oyster and parsley soup) for £75 per person, with an optional wine flight for £35.
Disclaimer: We (Jim and Ellie) were guests of Stargazy Inn, and were treated to dinner. We paid for our drinks. Thank you to Jess and Claudio for looking after us so well, and to Andrew and his team in the kitchen for cooking us such a delicious meal.
Photography: All photos taken by Jim Michell.
For more information or to make a reservation visit stargazyinn.co.uk or phone 01208 811516.
Stargazy Inn, The Terrace, Port Isaac, Cornwall, PL29 3SG