Restaurant review: The Seafood Restaurant, Riverside, Padstow, Cornwall

Does Rick Stein's flagship Padstow place float Amol Rajan's boat?

It's the locals rather than the tourists who refer to this curious patch of north Cornwall as "Padstein". From where I'm sitting, in a charming B'n'B, it's not as beautiful as other parts of north Cornwall (Trebarwith Strand, for instance); and the dilapidated harbour and seafront would displease discerning aesthetes. But for the gastronome, it is that sacred thing: a "destination".

The talk of "Padstein" denotes a begrudging local respect and affection for a man whose fame long predates the Age of Chefs. Rick Stein has brought millions in tourism and investment, created thousands of jobs, and sprinkled stardust over this place. The most celebrated of his establishments, the Seafood Restaurant, has a glasshouse front and large main room with elliptical bar in the centre. It overlooks a car park and faces Rock, across the Estuary. On an autumnal Monday night, it is packed by 6pm, and the waiting staff are prompt, precise and polite. You can eat at the bar without reservation.

Every seafood classic is here. In the broadest terms, the food is very good rather than excellent, slightly too pricey, not as good value as J Sheekey – still the best seafood restaurant in the country – and not worth coming to Cornwall for. But should you be in the area, you really should pay a visit.

A pair of jamon and cheese croquettes are a simple and good hors d'oeuvre, and the two breads – French sourdough and sesame and walnut – come hot, with lovely unsalted butter. If I believed in the divine, it would look and taste like elements of the hot shellfish with parsley, chilli, olive oil, garlic and lemon (£25.50). There are mussels, whelks, brown-crab claws, velvet crabs, langoustines, winkles, scallops, oysters, clams, and razor clams… the worst of which are the oysters, which are excellent, and the best of which are the juicy whelks, fetched out by a long metallic fork. I'm a sucker for scallops, and those served here with Serrano ham, salad leaves and a sherry vinegar dressing (£14.50) are firm and full of flavour. The ham is tough, dry and very salty: ideal.

All the mains come with a blurb beneath them on the menu, explaining their virtue. For the turbot with hollandaise sauce, it reads: "Turbot in the English style, simple and probably a nicer way of eating this wonderful fish than anything more elaborate". True, but paying £39 is more nasty than nice. I would rather a less elaborate price: nigh-on 40 quid is very, very expensive for a solid, safe, strong piece of fish, albeit in a magnificent hollandaise, pleasingly heavy on the lemon.

Beneath my main course, a Madras fish curry of sea bass, tomato and tamarind, the blurb is even longer. Forgive me: "A beautiful hot and sour Southern Indian curry which brings out the very best of one of my favourite fish. Don't believe it when people say spice ruins the taste of good fish, it accentuates it." Never mind that that should be a semi-colon rather than a comma in the final sentence, this dish is poor, despite the fish being tender and pungent. The problem arises because the English have yet to work out how best to deploy tamarind. The fruit from this wonderful tree should be soaked in water and squeezed into a rich pulp; here, it is mixed with tomato in a way that dilutes the flavour of both, while applying an unappealing yellow tint to the fish. It is also cold.

The Indian influence on my dessert, however – a bread-and-butter pudding with saffron, cardamom and Indian Nimish cream flavoured with saffron and rosewater (£8.90) – is perfectly absorbed, making it the highlight of the meal.

Staff say that Stein is in once or twice a week, which certainly adds to the appeal of this place for customers hoping for a lucky glimpse. Over several decades, he has given a wonderful bounty to the people of Cornwall, not the least of which is French-born Stephane Delourme, who has been head chef here for nearly 15 years. The food that comes out of his kitchen is for the most part hard to fault, and the venue's charming vibe makes it worthy of your time. But there are a few shortcomings – and at these prices, you have to be famous to get away with them.


The Seafood Restaurant, Riverside, Padstow, Cornwall, tel: 01841 532 700. £160 for two, including drinks

Three more seafood selections

La Lanterna

Excellent fish in a friendly environment have kept this trattoria in business for nearly two decades.

33 Queen Street, Scarborough, tel: 01723 363 616

Mourne Seafood Bar

Just how a seafood restaurant should be; you may have to queue for entry, but the wait is always worthwhile.

34-36 Bank Street, Belfast, tel: 028 9024 8544


One of Europe's best seafood restaurants, thanks to the genuine joy of Pascal Proyart's inspired cuisine.

101 Knightsbridge, London SW1, tel: 020 7290 7101

'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2013',

A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
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
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape