If you love your food, Southeast Cornwall is a great place to be. Our fabulous local ingredients, beautiful scenery and way of life attract some of the country’s best chefs. If you’re used to fine dining in London or Birmingham or Manchester say, you may be surprised at how inexpensive true fine dining is in this part of the world.
And if you’re looking for pub food, you’ll be amazed at the quality of food that our pubs and gastropubs provide. Even our cafés (and we have lots of those) and fish and chip restaurants go out of their way to be really, really good cafés and fish and chip restaurants.
As befits our location, our fine dining restaurants tend to be low on formality, but high on quality.
The menu at Trelaske Hotel in Looe changes daily and features produce actually grown on the premises as well as sourced from local suppliers. The AA awarded them two AA rosettes, confirming their status as one of Cornwall’s best restaurants.
The Old Sail Loft is one of the oldest buildings in Looe (reputedly a haunt of smugglers in the 16th century), but nowadays provides fine dining to discerning customers. Menu highlights include fillets of Looe Bay brill and 28 day dry aged prime Cornish beef in a red wine and shallot sauce.
Hannafore Point Hotel (also in Looe) offers both stunning sea views and fine dining from its Headland Restaurant. Typical offerings include grilled fillet of plaice crossed with fine smoked salmon and mushroom and mixed pepper stroganoff.
The Headland Restaurant, Hannafore Point Hotel
Liskeard’s Eliot House Hotel specialises in traditional menus. There is a roast of the day, and a traditional Sunday lunch carvery, plus a good choice of steaks, fish meals and vegetarian choices.
The Horizons Restaurant at Looe’s Fieldhead Hotel has far-reaching views across Looe Bay, and offers a daily-changing menu of mostly French and English dishes. Local seafood straight off the boats in Looe is a particular speciality.
The View Restaurant is perched high on the cliffs overlooking Whitsand Bay. Co-owner Matt Corner was formerly head chef at some of the country’s best restaurants, but left that all behind to pursue his own vision here ten years ago. The menu changes daily with a bias towards local seafood in summer and meat and game in the cooler seasons of the year. Matt’s style is simple and clean, with an emphasis on the main ingredient.
Langmans Restaurant in Callington may look unassuming from the outside, but don’t let that fool you. This tiny restaurant has two AA rosettes and has twice won ‘Cornish Restaurant of the Year’ in the Cornish Tourism Awards, on the strength of chef/owner Anton Buttery’s superb seven course tasting menu.
A relatively new local restaurant (opened in 2009), but one already causing a stir, is Nick and Kelli Barclay’s Blue Plate in Downderry. Blue Plate is all about ‘food for any mood’ and features the area’s finest, freshest produce lovingly prepared and simply presented. “No fuss, no foam and no pretention.”
Pubs and Gastropubs
There are really great pubs and gastropubs all over South East Cornwall. Here are some of our favourites.
The Village Inn at Rosecraddoc provides a good quality, relaxed dining experience for the whole family, with quiz nights and curry nights held throughout the season as well as live music and karaoke.
The Blue Peter Inn in Polperro claims that it is “probably the best pub in the world”. How will you know if that’s true or not if you don’t try it? The Blue Peter offers a warm welcome, fabulous food and excellent beer and is right on the end of the quay.
You can't beat a proper Cornish pasty!, image Adam Gibbard
The Plough at Duloe has a Taste of the West Gold Award for its food. Try the slow cooked belly of pork on a white bean stew or scallop and tiger prawn linguini, or maybe the smashing fish pie.
The Finnygook Inn is a 15th century coaching inn close to the South West Coast Path and Whitsand Bay at Crafthole. It enjoys stunning views across both the Lynher and the Tamar. Winter walkers and surfers will enjoy warming up at the Finnygook with the pie of the day or a winter vegetable stew.
The Springer Spaniel at Treburley (just north of Callington) is a delightfully rustic country pub with an exquisite freshly prepared menu designed to tempt anyone looking for a fine dining experience.
Cafés and Fish & Chips
No Cornish holiday is complete without a cream tea. (Don’t forget: the clotted cream goes on top of the jam not vice versa! If you get this the wrong way round, people might think that you’re from Devon…) But that’s not all our cafés have to offer. And because southeast Cornwall is a fishing area, you’ll find that our chippies serve really good fish.
The Courtyard is a café / ‘breakfast & brunch’ restaurant / sandwich shop in East Looe serving homemade and locally sourced foods.
During the day, Café Fleur (also in Looe) is a busy traditional café serving everything from full English breakfast to homemade cakes and scones, soups and quiche. Then every evening, the café transforms into a cosy bistro with a selection of a la carte meals and tapas dishes.
The Edgcumbe is a tea room at Cotehele Quay serving morning coffees, light lunches and afternoon teas.
The Bookshelf in Saltash is an independent bookshop with its own tea room – perfect for those of us who take our time deciding which book to buy.
Louis’ Tea Rooms on Kit Hill is something of a local legend. Hot food is served all day long with delicious homemade cakes and cream teas. The tea rooms also provide a kids’ play area as well as stunning views over the Tamar Valley from their position 800 feet above sea level.
Finally, how about we finish with the first building in Cornwall? Ashtorre Rock is right under the Royal Albert Bridge on the Saltash side of the Tamar and so claims that title. The ground floor has a tea room run entirely by volunteers (the building is a community centre).
It’s the quality of local ingredients that attracts all those top chefs to the area, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage as well. There are regular farmers’ markets at Coads’ Green, Crocadon, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Menheniot, Rilla Mill, Stoke Climsland, Trerulefoot as well as the famous farm shop at St Cleer. If you’re coming to South East Cornwall on holiday, make sure to at least try clotted cream and a proper Cornish pasty before you leave!
Remember to put the clotted cream on top of the jam, otherwise people might think you're from Devon!, image Adam Gibbard
Bocaddon Farm Veal has acquired a nationwide reputation for the quality of their welfare-friendly veal, winning awards in recent years from Made in Britain, Great Taste, Good Housekeeping and Taste of the West.
Cornish Orchards in Duloe produces award-winning premium ciders and juices using traditional craft practices but produced to modern exacting standards. They have an onsite shop.
Cornish Country Cordials of Stoke Climsland make fruit, flower and herb-based juices and cordials by hand using traditional recipes in small batches.
Green Bank Apples make Tamar Valley Apple Juice at Halton Quay using a blend of local variety juices (with the occasional single variety juice).
Kerensa Aval is a small cooperative producer of apple juice made from a huge range of local apple varieties.
You can get local organic vegetable boxes delivered in the local area by Keveral Farms and by Trevalon Organic Vegetables.
There is a long tradition of honey-making and beekeeping in South East Cornwall. Callington has its own Honey Fair (as much about the street entertainment as the honey) every October, and there are several makers of very high quality honey in the area.
Upton Cross, near Liskeard is the home of the Cornish Cheese Company and the superb Cornish Blue. This superb cheese was recognised as the world’s best cheese in the 2010 World Cheese Awards.
Berrio Mill Farm in the Lynher Valley makewholegrain mustards, chutneys, preserves, jellies and honey using local ingredients.
Kelly’s of Cornwall (based in Bodmin) makes a wide range of ice creams, made with locally sourced milk and clotted cream.
Talking of clotted cream, one of the major producers of clotted cream is Trewithen Dairy, based at Lostwithiel. This is a family business also producing milk, butter, yoghurt, crème fraiche, buttermilk and pouring cream.
Cornish pasties are obviously an important food product in the area. One of largest local employers is a mass market producer of pasties, but if you want to try the best pasties, you should visit one of the smaller producers, like Helluva Pasties just outside Callington, The Pasty Shop in Looe, Presto Pasties in Polperro or the Pasty Shop Bakery in Callington.
Finally, just west of Bodmin is the famous Camel Valley Vineyard. Camel Valley has been producing world class wines here for twenty years. It is regarded by many wine critics as Britain’s best winery and its wines have won award after award from international wine experts. The vineyard also offers tours and tastings.