St Enodoc is a wonderful hotel in the seaside village of Rock, across the estuary from Padstow. Its a luxury hotel with first class service and a place where you feel your shoulders melt the moment you step through the front door. But as good as the hotel and the service is, what brought us here was the food. What brought us here was Nathan Outlaw.
You probably know Nathan from the TV. He’s the big guy from Cornwall who likes to cook fish. He has two restaurants at The St Enodoc Hotel. The first is Outlaw’s Seafood & Grill, a relaxed but still top notch operation with a well judged a la carte menu, featuring the best of Cornish seafood as well as some delicious meaty options. But the main event is Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Nathan’s flagship, which holds two Michelin stars and offers an eight course tasting menu. On our two night stay we were lucky enough to sample both options. I have referred to the food in the reviews below but obviously focussed more on the wine.
Outlaw’s Seafood & Grill
The food here is not bistro or brasserie fayre, it is fine dining. The ingredients are top notch, the combinations are clever, and the presentation and execution is exemplary. I enjoyed (and devoured!) a starter of scallops, bacon, lentils and butternut squash, followed by a delicious main course of sea bass with crab, Porthilly sauce and pickled cucumber. The Fish enjoyed rich and multi-layered fish soup, followed by a lamb shank stuffed with caramelised onions (wow!). We also couldn’t say no to a selection of local cheeses to finish.
So great food. What about the wine? Well, put simply, it’s brilliant. There are around 40 wines on the list ranging from £20 to £80 a bottle… with all except three Burgundies available by the glass. This is how all restaurant wine lists should be laid out – even half this number by the glass would be great – this is a delight. Over our 3 courses we enjoyed the following wines:
Camel Valley Brut 2010 “Kir Cornwall”
Addition of cassis works very well with the fine bubbles of Camel Valley “Cornish” Brut – a perfect aperitif?
Domaine Barillot Pouilly Fume 2011, Loire, France
Deliciously aromatic and discreetly pungent Sauvignon Blanc. Gooseberry and citrus, great balance.
Domaine de Pouilly Pouilly Fuisse 2008, Burgundy, France
Full bodied and enticing. Peaches, apples and creamy vanilla oak.
Terre de Mistral Cotes du Rhone 2011, Southern Rhone, France
Spicy and full of stewed dark plums – just what you want on a cold evening… Or just as great chilled in the summer I’m sure.
As the list was available all day long we were also able to sample the following wines… It would’ve been rude not to!
The Crossings Pinot Noir 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand
Bursting with cherry fruits and just enough spice and savouriness to give it a good level of complexity.
Abadia De San Campio Albariño 2011, Rias Baixas, Spain
Apples, limes and beautiful saltiness… Really should have ordered some oysters to go with it… Oh, we did!
Danieli Soave 2008, Veneto, Italy
Apricot and grapefruit, really nicely balanced with just enough acid.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
4 hours, 8 courses, 10 wines. Wow. I wish all dinners were like this! This is some of the best cooking in the UK, supported by amazing front of house and a brilliant sommelier. The only food choice to make is the full tasting menu or the veggie alternative… So that was easy! The wine is a different matter. Damon, the sommelier, has put together a wonderful list but with eight courses it was impossible to pick out a single or even a couple of bottles to accompany the gastronomic feast. Luckily there was an accompanying wine flight, specially chosen to compliment each dish.
I have a fear of wine flights. I am suspicious that often the choices can be wines that a sommelier hasn’t been able to shift, or just a selection of the wines available by the glass. But not here. This selection was interesting, imaginative and, most importantly of all, delicious.
This is what we ate and what we drank. Sorry if it just looks like gloating!
(Note – I started taking notes but decided to simply enjoy the whole experience, so this is what I can remember!)
Smoked Whiskey Cured Salmon, Kohlrabi, Lime and Horseradish
Ice Cuvée NV, Peller Family Estates, Canada
This sparkler is made in the methode traditionale, where the dosage added is the ice wine. Delightfully fresh, sweet upfront but dry finish. Great with the delicate, clean flavour of the salmon.
Squid, Mint and Coriander
Sol Lucet Koshu 2011, Yamanashi Wine Company, Katsunuma, Japan
How very unexpected. Glacial freshness with hints of mandarin and lime. Very, very dry but just perfect with the cold, minty squid. The winemaker just happened to be dining at the table opposite!
Raw Queenie Scallops, Wild Garlic Tartare Dressing
Pinot Blanc 2008, Rolly Gassmann, Alsace, France
This is the only wine I preferred without the food. Lots of citrus and touch of tropical fruit – very good indeed but slightly fought with the garlic in the dish. The scallops were superb too.
Queenie Scallops, Hazelnuts and Cauliflower
Grauer Burgunder Kabinett Trocken 2009, Weingut Bercher, Baden, Germany
Equals Pinot Gris! Very rich, with delightful pear aroma/flavour. One of the scallops was deep fried in a batter and was the perfect foil.
Lemon Sole, Crispy Oyster and Jerusalem Artichoke
Saint Bris Vieilles Vignes 2010, Les Temps Perdus, Burgundy, France
I have got so bored of Sauvignon but this little number from Burgundy, a small appellation to the North of Chablis, shares that same racy minerality as its more esteemed neighbour. This was a very delicate dish and the bright zing of the wine paired beautifully with this amazing creation.
Cod, Bacon, Cabbage and Curry
Hand-Picked Gewurtztraminer 2011, Skillogalee, Clare Valley, Australia
This was my favourite course, and the match of the night. The curry sauce was simply stunning and I will be on the lookout for this bone dry Gewurtz from the Aussie home of dry Riesling. Not as perfumed as its Alsace counterpart but taut and lip-puckering. Brilliant.
Brill, Mussels, Celeriac and Porthilly Sauce
Blauschiefer Spatburgunder 2011, Meyer-Nukel, Ahr, Germany
Ah, red wine and fish! This was a delicious fruity German Pinot Noir with just a touch of warm spice and leather adding interest, complexity and balance. The Porthilly sauce is made from roasted velvet crabs and tarragon, and stood up to the wine impressively.
Selection of British Cheeses
Ratafia de Champagne, Domaine Dumangin, Champagne, France
Another new discovery and another winner. Much of the character of a tawny port but oh so smooth! Figgy and unctuous – I need some of this every time I have cheese from now on. Even if it’s in a sandwich… Or on a Whopper!
Rhubarb and Custard
Brachetto 2011, ‘Braida’ Giacoma Bologna, Piedmont, Italy
Fun, fizzy, sweet red wine from Italy. And only 5% alcohol so you can drink loads of it! This wasn’t a simple rhubarb and custard, but a vanilla creme brûlée topped with a rhubarb sorbet. Pristine.
Bitter Chocolate, Blood Orange and Yoghurt
La Paille Perdue 2005, Julien Labet, Jura, France
Another sticky, figgy number with hints of orange peel that complimented the blood orange and a sumptuous way to finish.