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
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
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

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice