Paul Ainsworth at No 6: Restaurant review - Domestic bliss - Reviews - Food + Drink - The Independent

Paul Ainsworth at No 6: Restaurant review - Domestic bliss

Eating at No 6 feels like entering Paul Ainsworth’s living-room – but this is no home cooking

It often happens in popular culture that the greatest talents live in the shadow of their more celebrated partners. Paul Ainsworth strikes me as being at least as talented as fellow Padstow chef Rick Stein, the man with whom he started his career, but who has spent more time on TV. Stein is an extraordinary chef, of course; but on the basis of one evening with both – or at least with their kitchens – I’d dare to suggest Ainsworth is his equal, if not better.

Given his recent excursion on BBC2’s Great British Menu, it’s just feasible that Ainsworth will one day acquire the fame that his friend can boast. He certainly knows a lot about how to run a good restaurant.

Sat between No 6 and Stein’s Seafood Restaurant is Rojano’s, which Ainsworth co-owns with Derek Mapp. An unfussy, family-friendly joint roughly analogous to Pizza Express, it does Italian in an affordable way. It is at No 6, however, that Ainsworth’s gastronomic skills really shine.

This is a fantastic place. It presents itself to the world in a humble fashion and you could easily miss it: 6 Middle Street is a renovated 18th-century townhouse. This gives it a very domestic feeling inside, with warm furnishings, understated décor and a small area upstairs that resembles a living-room. It’s here that we eat.

On the à la carte menu there are six starters, six mains, six desserts and cheese, together with a decent if moderately expensive wine list. To start, I have veal sweetbreads with pearl barley, parsley, lemon and Parmesan (£15). The sweetbreads are rich and intense, and come in a little jus, set against the most pungent parsley I’ve ever eaten. This goes very well with the lemon and Parmesan, a classic combo that coats the little globules of pearl barley in a perfect, furry exterior.

Then there are oysters, which, given our proximity to the Atlantic, are a must. These are from Porthilly, which is barely a few hundred metres away across the River Camel. They come with fennel, Granny Smith apple and salami (£12), and taste exquisite: a succulent squelch of chewy mollusc which has absorbed the flavours of an English garden and contrasts sharply with the spicy pig.

Vegetarians like my former self wouldn’t have the best time here. There are options, of course, but this menu is designed to display the best of the animal kingdom, not preserve it from human consumption. Among the mains, for instance, is a very good short-rib steak with butcher’s tartare, onions, red leaves and ultra-hot horseradish. It is a little too dear for my liking, at £29; but then again if you’re coming as a tourist rather than being a local, you might have saved up for this meal – which is as well.

Even the cheapest main – the vegetarian option of caramelised shallot tart with blue cheese and jam – is £27. If you pay an extra £1 you can have the day-boat cod, one of two day-boat options, the other being monkfish. A few years ago it became fashionable to attach curry flavours to fish, and here the tender, juicy chunk of cod comes with raisin yoghurt, cod bubble, cauliflower florets and curry. It’s pretty good, but not much more than the sum of its parts. The curry doesn’t have enough masala, so lacks both heat and punch, and the cauliflower is a touch overcooked.

Sat in the opposite corner to us are two elderly couples having an uproarious time, never so much as when they order a remarkable-looking thing called “A trip to the fairground”, which is always for two, and £24. This includes, we are told, fresh fruit, peanut-butter ice-cream, pistachio ice-cream and coffee crème brûlée. All of which looks most pleasing – but we opt instead for a superb bread-and-butter pudding with vanilla ice-cream, toffee and oak beer (£10) – after which comes my highlight of the night.

This is a bar of chocolate with pistachio, caramac – you know, the stuff that tastes of condensed milk, like you get in Indian stations – and a dark-chocolate sorbet. If there is one thing you do on your next trip to Cornwall, it should be to invest £9 in this sumptuous treat, but not before removing significant others from its reach. It really is the best dessert I’ve had in a year of sweet successes, and summarises, in technical flair and sheer gastronomic exuberance, why this must be one of the best meals in Britain. 1

8.5/10

Paul Ainsworth at No 6: 6 Middle Street, Padstow, Cornwall, tel: 01841 532 093. £150 for two, with drinks

Four more things I’ve been eating this week

Tiramisu

I took a future prime minister to Quirinale in Westminster. Highlight: this fantastic, espresso-soaked pick-me-up.

Pea and ham soup

Cliché it may be, but the New Covent Garden Soup people do a terrific job, and few things are better than this velvety number.

Roast loin of pork

The Reform Club in Pall Mall does a brilliant lunch. The tender piece of meat with Bramley apple purée I had was close to sublime.

Bircher muesli

I’ve got into this, what with trying to avoid diabetes. At Villandry they serve it in a large wine glass. Worth the embarrassment.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week