I’m going to come right out with it… I am a Rick Stein groupie. My favourite bits on Saturday Kitchen are the Stein segments and I’ve got a whole shelf dedicated to Stein’s cookery books, which are like lonely planets but with extra culinary delights. And I was delighted when Mr. Stein was on his book tour in Chipping Norton and I was a bit starstruck as I got my booked signed. As a kid, I’d been to Padstow and as a Geography A Level student ‘Padstein’ was a favourite case study. So the opportunity to revisit Padstow with a new found appreciation was to good to miss.
Plus in honour of Thomas’ birthday I booked us a table at Stein’s St Petroc’s Bistro (rather than the Seafood Restaurant – as I know I’m not enough of a serious fish eater to appreciate it!). I don’t care what other people have to say, but the Stein family have done ALOT to turn this area into the culinary capital of Cornwall – spawning several generations of Michelin star chefs, who adore and appreciate the fresh local fish – Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac is just one.
If we were going to Padstow, I wanted the full Rick Stein experience. Now we were only in Cornwall four days in total, so I figured we could fit St Petroc’s Bistro and Stein’s Fish & Chip Shop (maybe even the cafe at a push!) In addition Stein’s name also adorns the cookery school, The Seafood Restaurant, Rick Stein’s Cafe, Fisheries & Seafood Bar, Ruby’s Bar, and the Cornish Arms – at least that’s in the immediate Padstow area.
Padstow itself is a pretty Cornish town, it doesn’t have the rustic charm of Port Issac, but it has a plethora of independent boutiques and Cornish staples like Seasalt clothing. It look’s quite magical lit up and we headed to St Petroc’s Bistro a smidge earlier than our booking (I was eager!). The staff were very helpful and settled us in the lounge to wait for our table. Now I think we made a bit of a mistake in ordering our appetisers early, the bread arrived and just as we tucked in our table was ready… We got resettled in the restaurant, having polished off the bread, eagerly anticipating first course.
Tom had the fillet of John Dory with olives, capers and rosemary and I had 10 oz Onglet steak – here’s the menu description: ‘Not a butter tender like rib eye but a really well flavoured Paris bistro favourite served only rare or medium rare. 28 day aged Hereford with tomato, thyme and onion salad and hand cut chips.’ For dessert, we both had the steamed ginger pudding with clotted cream. It was to quote the namesake, ‘Yummo!’ It was a particularly spectacular Sunday dinner.
St Petroc’s was pretty busy – even at our 8.45pm reservation. On Monday, after a day at Heligan gardens, we headed to Stein’s Fish and Chips for an early tea. It’s probably the poshest fish and chip shop I’ve ever witnessed, there’s something very swish about a cool class of white wine sat at the high top tables. We were also lucky enough to be sat next to a very cheery couple from Swindon, who definitely made the meal. Tom had a lightly battered lemon sole, which you definitely can’t get in the chip shops where we are and I enjoyed the token vegetarian option – a battered halloumi burger. It had that traditional bustling chip shop atmosphere, but with a more genteel feel. I was very pleased to come away with my Stein water jug, my souvenir from Padstow.