Monday, 2 July 2012

Fish & Chips and Reminiscing - Padstow, 9 years on...

The last time we went to Padstow, I was 6 or so months’ pregnant with Blue. It was, I suppose, our last holiday where we were free to do what we pleased. The week started with a night in a B&B in darkest Devon, near South Molton, where we were due to pick up the Husband’s brand new sailing dinghy. Having concluded that transaction, we towed it to Padstow where we were due to spend a night at The Old Customs House right on the Harbour.

Have you ever tried towing anything (or, to be honest, driving even when you’re not towing) through Padstow? I don’t advise it. Anyway, after many hairy turns and near misses, accompanied by some ‘fruity’ language, we eventually we made it out, back to the ‘park and ride’ at the top of the hill outside Padstow and started again. We had a lovely evening, made even more lovely by the fact that we had dinner at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant. This was probably our first experience of really expensive food, but it was so worth it, and such a treat. It had taken much planning (I’d never before experienced having to book somewhere months in advance), but oh yes, it was worth it.
It was a great ‘restaurant experience’ – very relaxed and jolly – not stuffy like I imagine some places might be, and the food was just divine. My only complaint was that as I was pregnant, I couldn’t indulge in my passion for seafood proper – and there on the menu was the oysters and chorizo dish that I’d seen on some programme or other. I salivated but resisted. I’m storing that particular tale up for one of those “What have you ever done for me” type arguments that I expect will come from Blue in the future.

After our night in Padstow, we moved on to a cute little cottage in Port Gaverne for a week’s relaxing where we spent most of the time trying to work out what we would call Blue depending on whether he was a boy or a girl (he’s not really called Blue – if you hadn’t worked that out). The rest of the week’s food was of course overshadowed by the Seafood Restaurant experience but I also recall a delicious pint or 2 of prawns in the pub (I know – I think I decided that some cooked prawns were probably OK), and also a supremely disappointing fish & chip supper.

Fish & chips are one of my favourites. In my mind, we had them every Friday night as a child from George & Angela’s chip shop (I can’t believe it’s still there, let alone has a web page – but I googled out of idle curiosity and there it was!). The reality is probably that we had them 2 or 3 times, but who’s counting? Anyway, I am always on the lookout for a good chip shop and I remember thinking that Port Isaac would just HAVE to be a winner for fresh fish & chips. So we slogged up the hill (remember, I was quite pregnant by then, and the road was STEEP!) and down the other side from Port Gaverne into Port Isaac and bought the chips, which we then took to a bench overlooking the sea. They were really disappointing, although discussing it recently with the Husband he reckons they were fine and it was my pregnancy taste buds going mad that was the problem. They also gave me chronic indigestion to the point where I nearly couldn't walk back over the hill to bed. Another story to add to the list, perhaps?

One of the things my kids often gripe about is that we never get food from the chippy/pub etc. “When will we eat in a restaurant again?” is a common whinge of Pink’s when she’s feeling like giving me a hard time. Out comes the well trodden speech about mummy and daddy having to choose how they spend their money and how I can feed them better food for a fraction of the price... I know it’s falling on deaf ears, but there we go.
However, this weekend found us back in Padstow, and – oh joy – Fish & Chips. But not just any fish & chips – Rick Stein’s fish & chips. You guessed it - a romantic re-visit to The Seafood Restaurant was not on the cards, but who needs that when you can sit in the drizzle and eat the most divine fish & chips EVER. The kids were in heaven, but so was I. We had haddock and chips, and I also had a deep fried scallop. The kids had scampi – I shared half my haddock with Blue in return for half his scampi because he couldn’t decide what he wanted, but the scallop was all mine. We also had mushy peas. Now, I know people are divided on the subject, but frankly, I don’t want to hear it. In my book, mushy peas are just lovely, and these ones were pretty darn good.

As for the rest of the food, well, the fish was creamy, the batter was crisp, the chips were lovely and ‘chip-shoppy’, and the tartare sauce came in little tubs and was divine – none of your Hellmans sachets here (although there’s nothing wrong with a Hellman’s sachet, it was fitting that these chips should be accompanied by something a little more upmarket). The ketchup was Heinz. I took a bottle in my pocket.

The kids had lemonade. From a can. And the Husband and I (and our companions, for we were there mob handed in advance of the Padstow to Rock swim that took place on Sunday) washed down the food with an excellent bottle or 2 of ‘Chalky’s Bark’ beer. Apparently the second of Mr Stein’s collaborations with a local brewery, this is beer with a hint of ginger (as opposed to ginger beer) and very good too.

Price-wise – well, without the beer it would have been less than £30 for 4 of us, and to be honest, I don’t think it was that over-priced. The food was really good, and I’ve paid that for vastly inferior chips in Lyme Regis before now.

I didn’t have my camera with me, so I couldn’t take any pics of the food – you’ll just have to take my word for it!


  1. Sounds wonderful. You can't beat really fresh fish and chips!

  2. Can't stop thinking about deep fried scallops.....that's my idea of heaven.
    Lovely post and a bit of a trip down memory lane for me too. I had a uni friend who lived near Daymer Bay, and I spent a summer working at the hotel on the hill, serving breakfast (badly) I remember people talking about this new chef who was creating a stir in Padstow (yes, it was a v v long time ago...) Rick Stein now seems to own most of Padstow. I'd love to go back one day, and when I do I'll be heading straight for that fish & chip shop !

    1. I'd forgotten how much I love it down there - we've visited the south Cornish coast with Blue as a baby but hadn't been back to North Cornwall until this weekend, and it's beautiful. And even if it's all very fashionable and expensive in 'Padstein' it's still worth a good mooch about and there's lots of good people watching to be had. We've vowed to go back for a week next summer half term - see if we can find a camp site on the Rock/Daymer bay side

  3. I love mushy peas too, maybe because my mum used to make puree de pois casses, which I guess must be more or less the same thing. Yummy.

    1. Yummy indeed! Knowing that the french have an equivalent makes me feel much more sophisticated than I really am - may be I will no longer have mushy peas, but request puree de pois casses in future!! ;-)

  4. BTW I'm very impressed that you can resist the siren calls of the chippy and that little pub next to ours! My will power gets reduced to nothing when the smells from the pub's kitchen waft straight to our garden...

  5. Aaarrgghhh you've just made me so hungry !

    Also I love Padstow, been several times and never tire of it, enjoyed reading this post, made me smile, even if it did make me hungry too :-) xx

    1. Every time I think about those fish and chips I get hungry. Although I am hungry quite a lot of the time! Tahks for stopping by!


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