Will be visiting Cornwall at the end of this month/early May for 7 days. I've heard to try Rick Stein's restaurants, and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen so far.
Any other recommendations of places to eat for local fare? Pub food, homestyle food. Actually, if there's anything particularly recommended for Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, we'd be interested in that too, however the main focus is on local foods and eating lots of clotted creme.
Also, any suggestions of places to try for Cornish pasties?
Lastly, any local products that we should buy from Cornwall to bring back to London?
Cornwall is a big place. Best food is around Padstow, but IMO it isn't Stein /Oliver, leave those places to people who adore TV celebs (Steins F&C shop is OK, if you are happy to queue). I would recommend:
Margot's - small and casual, books months in advance, try now to see if you can get in.
Paul Ainsworth at No.6 - very good cooking delivered for a good price in a stylish restaurant
Bin Two - a great wine bar for drinks
Custard - quite casual and funky, reasonable bistro food
Nathan Outlaw (over the water in Rock) - has two places; his Restaurant, which was Michelin starred when it was in Fowey which he has now moved to Rock and he has a simpler Grill which is more basic.
Another good spot further south is St Ives. The two places here I like are "Porthminster Cafe", a restaurant which is right on the beach and is great for a late long lunch (it is a must book place given its location) and "Blas Burgerworks" which is funky and alternative and does outstanding burgers (including real Kiwi/Aussie ones which include beetroot, pineapple and egg on top).
There are tons and tons of dodgy tourist places so prior research is sensible. Some of the country pubs are good, but a lot are just big playgrounds for families on holiday serving pre-prepped stuff.
Cornish pasties are on every street corner and so it is simple to look for good ones vs. mass produced crap i.e. the ones that look handmade rather than factory made.
Don't waste time looking for Asian, there are no significant communities (and no really big towns) so no great Asian places to investigate.
I agree about Blas Burgerworks. My boyfriend and I went there 2 years ago and he still talks about "the best burger he ever had in Cornwall". But get there early. It is tiny and I don't think it takes reservations. It opens at 6pm. We got there at 6:30 and were able to squeeze into the corner of an occupied large table.
We went to couple of places for scones with clotted cream and they were all good. In St Ives, there was a cafe/cookshop that was nice, but I can't remember the name. St Ives is small anyway.
The Hub is a kind of cheesy bar on the waterfront, but they have well-made cocktails without the over-inflated London prices.
If you are going further down the coast, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe in St Just (near Land's End) and I had a really good haloumi dish with capers and a chocolate brownie with local ice cream. MMMM... I think it might have been called Kegen Teg. It's kind of a hippy-ish looking place in the centre of town. Speaking of Land's End, give it a miss, unless you really want to say that you've to the western-most point of mainland Britian. Coach tours and tacky, tacky tourist stuff, most of which didn't have anything to with Land's End or even Cornwall, as far as I could tell.
I will second Harters's comment on Mevagissey. The only decent place was a Portuguese restaurant in the centre of town. I think it was new-ish when we were there and my boyfriend said the seafood was quite good and, I think, local. As a vegetarian, there was virtually nothing in the whole town for me to eat!
We had a week in Mevagissey a couple of years back. Was generally disappointed with the food offerings. I accept we hadnt really done any research but even the pub lunch offerings were not too good. I was surprised that, for a rural county with what is supposed to be a distinct cultural identity, little play was made of local provenance of the food.
We did go to Stein's Seafood Restaurant and thought the meal was better than OK but certainly playing on the celeb chef kudos (and I like his cookbooks) and not particularly good value for money.
It's impossible to avoid the pasty. Many will not be at all good - bear in mind Ginsters is a Cornish company :-)
I prefered Rick Stein's fish and chip place much more than the proper restaurant as after a day of walking, I was looking more than a little windswept and it was laidback and they serve Sharps beers. Good piece of cod and nice chips.
I lived in Padstow for a couple of summers and ate a pasty pretty much everyday! I discerned that the Chough bakery (pronounced "chuff", its a kind of bird apparently) is definitely the best. Its located right in the middle of town, next to the harbour in the old post office building. There's lots of blurb about pasties being "authentic" and truly Cornish and these guys really go for it. In fact the owners of the bakery claim that they are leading the county-wide campaign to discriminate between pastys that are made fresh on-the-day in Cornwall and other rubbish that is part-baked, frozen and then baked again and could come from anywhere. There other bakery produce is good too, and if you go in the morning you can get stuff left over from the day before for tuppence (actually £1), although its not so fresh, its still decent and much cheaper (this doesn't include pastys). Steak and stilton was my fave, but quite rich.
In the summer months there are long queues outside it, but that's the case anywhere in Padstow at that time. So, as a general principle don't let queues, long or short decide for you.
Ice cream: try Roskilly's, its in a really small, easily missable hole in the wall. But its also right on the harbour. Just look for it.
And also say "paarsty" with your best rural twang instead of "pasty" and the locals will love you for it.
Spent 10 days in St. Ives last year. Recommend Farrell's Bakery on corner of Bunker's Hill and another road just off Wharf Road (can't remember the name). We got pasties a lot from there after trying many others. Best value and best taste in our opinion. Also recommend the saffron buns and cakes. Ate at the Hub a few times and usually had mackerel. They also have free wi-fi. Also travelled to Mousehole and ate at what appeared to be the only pub there and again had tasty mackerel. Bit obsessed with it. Bought food at the St. Ives Farmer's Market as well as at a farm shop on the way to Penzance (can't remember the name) and cooked a lot. Liked trying the local cheeses and ice-cream. Went to Porthminster Cafe but didn't have a meal. Beautiful location. They were filming an episode of Countryfile there which featured - guess what? How to cook mackerel!! Loved the place and will be back.
A few suggestions beyond Padstow:
Fowey (former home of Nathan Outlaw's) is better served than Mevagissey, that's for sure - the Other Place is an unassuming spot - downstairs serves as a takeaway - but I've had a few lovely meals there, with fantastic fresh seafood. Monumental scallops, if I remember rightly. Both Sam's in Fowey and Sam's on the Beach in nearby Polkerris (lovely location) are fun, informal places.
The Gurnard's Head, somewhere down near St Ives, receives mixed reviews, but I had a lush meal there, and its location, out on the windswept coastal road, is ace.
Oh, and seconded on the Margot's recommendation: it's a great spot. A haven from the Padstow madness!
I had forgotten about "The Other Place" in Fowey, upstairs is very good especially for the fish, it is popular so good to book.
Just outside Fowey in Polkerris is the "Rashleigh Inn" which does superb F&C and great crab sandwiches, it is a pub with a terrace that is practicaly on the beach of a small undeveloped cove: if you like a walk it is a good halfway stop for lunch a round trip out from Fowey around the southern headland.
The Guernards Head is a great location, but our meal was patchy, it has a very strong reputation so we may have been unlucky.
I would third Rick Stein's fish and chips, and also his cafe.
Another good spot just past Newquay is the Lewinnick Lodge, out on the Pentire Headland. Amazing views and also really delicious food. Their fish has always been gorgeously cooked. Their breakfasts are also rather wonderful. Nicely casual, and in warm weather a deck to die for.
I found the details on a reciept for the farm shop we visited outside of St. Ives and near Penzance. It is called Higher Trenowin Farm Shop, Penzance. Tel 01736 362439. They had lovely homemade sausages and local cheese as well as the usual vegetable. We took the produce back to St. Ives and devoured it.