Eating Out – Feasting in the Fresh Air

Summer is here and that means it’s alfresco dining time when you can take a picnic to the park, hold a BBQ on the beach, lunch at your leisure in a pub garden, or tuck into tapas on a sunny terrace with a measure of meteorological impunity.

At the Scarlet restaurant, our sea-view balcony is the perfect place for a spot of alfresco dining when you’re staying with us, but there’s also a host of amazing Cornish establishments that we love visiting for an evening of fresh air feasting. Here are some of our favourites:

Scott & Babs Wild Fired Food at Retorrick Mill

Bump your way down a long track off the B3276 and you’ll eventually come to Scott & Babs place at Retorrick Mill: a rustic, wood-fired food set-up in a three-sided barn serving some of the finest slow food around.

The eponymous Scott and Babs rustle up everything fresh on open fires, spit roasts and in smoker barrels, and they rarely decide until the day before what they fancy serving. So, it’s a good idea to give them a call in advance and find out what they’re likely to serve, as sometimes there are lots of choices, and other times there’s just one thing on the menu.

Once you’ve piled your plate high, you can cosy up to eat your fill in a converted stable with a roaring log fire, or outside on picnic tables. You may bump into Wilf, the farmer who owns Retorrick Mill, going about his business rearing fabulous pigs, sheep, cows, ducks and chickens for Scott and Babs to serve up and their customers to eat.

Appleton’s at Trevibban Mill

If you’re looking for amazing food in a slightly less rustic setting, then look no further than Appleton’s at Trevibban Mill. It’s off the beaten track and well worth finding. You can tuck into squid ink spaghetti and other such delicacies while sitting on a (sometimes) sun-drenched terrace surrounded by sweeping views of the Trevibban vineyard.

This fine dining with alfresco option is the relatively new venture of Andy Appleton, the former head chef of Fifteen Cornwall.

There’s plenty of Andy’s signature rustic Italian-Cornish dishes on the menu using the very best Cornish seasonal ingredients. You can admire the beautiful views, taste amazing wine and take a tour of the vineyard.

The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick Beach, Portscatho

You have to hunt pretty hard to find this small, rustic outdoor café, but it’s worth it. You can’t drive to it, for starters, you have to walk through two fields, along the coast path and down a flight of granite steps.

Look hard and you’ll spot a wooden shack – a WWII relic – nestled back from the dunes of Porthcurnick Beach. “We’re called The Hidden Hut for a reason,” say owners, Simon Stallard and Jemma Glass. “Finding us may turn into a small adventure, but be assured: the secluded location is well worth it.”

Enjoy a takeaway box filled with smoked mackerel and watercress salad or slow-roasted pork focaccia. You can sit outside the cafe or take your ‘beach tapas’ down onto the sand.

The best time to experience The Hidden Hut is during one of their Summer pop-up feast nights, though. This is a must-try on any foodie’s Cornwall culinary to-do list. Tickets sell-out on the same day they’re released, so sign yourself up to their email list.

Paul Ainsworth’s at No.6, Padstow

For some altogether more refined outdoor dining, No 6 is the place to visit. Paul Ainsworth’s place manages to preserve all the best of the traditional formal restaurant while being highly hospitable and innovative at the same time.

On a sunny day or a warm evening, you can grab a table outside in the pretty courtyard to tuck into a rabbit terrine perhaps, or roasted fallow deer or a smoked haddock quiche. One of many lovely things about No. 6 is that you’re quite likely to see Paul Ainsworth himself cooking when you visit, unusual when so many chefs nowadays seem to be too busy to stand at the stove themselves.