Rick Stein, proprietor and chef of the acclaimed Seafood Restaurant and St Petroc's in Padstow, Cornwall, chooses his personal best in the southwest
CORNWALL

Art lovers staying with us in Padstow come back from a day out at the Tate Gallery vehement about the terrible food in St Ives - unless by luck they found Paul and Debbie Sellars' The Pig and Fish, Norway Lane, St Ives (01736-794204). Try pork and oregano sausages with grilled polenta and an onion and red pepper relish for the pig, and cod with a basil crust and haricot beans in tomato and olive oil for the fish. Paul's cooking is exceptional. He's a thoughtful and precise cook, hiding his exactness in laid back Mediterranean and robust French cooking. Set dinner pounds 17.50. Open March to end of October. Dinner only, Tues-Sat, 7-9pm

The Danescombe Valley Hotel, Lower Valley, Calstock (01822-832414) is in an exceptionally beautiful setting right on the bend of the Tamar below Cotehele House. The food is half-Italian and half-English, reflecting Anna Smith's parentage. On the one hand there is Parmigiana de Melanzane - baked aubergines with tomatoes and cheese, or an Italian omelette, soft and flavoured with Parmesan and sage; on the other, Tamar salmon with a crust of horseradish and toasted brioche crumbs, or a light Calstock plum tart with honey ice cream. Martin Smith's wine list is a real joy, reflecting his enthusiasm. Set four-course dinner plus coffee pounds 27.50. Open from April to October. Dinner only, 7.30 for 8pm, Fri-Tues

Nick Wainford is a real survivor. His country house hotel The Well House, St Keyne, Liskeard (01579-342001) has never attracted the business it deserves, mainly, I suspect, because Liskeard is a farming town and not stuffed with enthusiastic foodies. But he has weathered the hard times with real determination, and provides good food in a restrained and classy restaurant. The menu is refreshingly straightforward, with such dishes as smooth chicken liver parfait with apple and sultana chutney, pan-fried calves' liver with tarragon potato and caramalised shallots, and iced passion fruit parfait with red berry coulis. One of the few good restaurants in Cornwall open for lunch. About pounds 35. Open lunch 12.30-1.30pm and dinner 7-9.30pm daily. Book in advance

DEVON

Paul and Kay Henderson's Gidleigh Park, Chagford (01647-432367) is an American's Gatsby-like dream of an English country house hotel, a dream to be shared by anyone who likes comfort, quiet, contemplative views and beautiful food. A lunch there recently impressed me with its simplicity: a lentil soup flavoured with a base of a first-rate stock, with some thin slices of foie gras dropped in at the last minute so that they were just melting, was so good. As was the piece of cod that followed, perfectly cooked with a sauce of melting leeks and butter. Lunch is good value at pounds 15 for two courses or pounds 21 for three. Dinner: pounds 50 four courses a la carte, five-course set menu pounds 55. Open lunch 12.30-2pm and dinner 7-9pm daily

If you hit on Popham's, Castle Street, Winkleigh (01837-83767) for lunch without having heard about it you would think you'd made the new restaurant discovery of your lifetime. It consists of just three tables and a little deli, with Dennis Hawkes to look after you with great charm, and Melvin Popham to cook simple and well-timed dishes such as baked duck breast marinated in soy sauce, ginger and sherry vinegar and a superb lemon tart. BYO as they say in Australia - it's unlicensed. About pounds 17 per head. Open Mon-Sat, for lunch only, 12-3pm. Deli open from 9am-3pm. No corkage charge on BYO, but no children under 14

I wouldn't think of taking pot luck with a restaurant in Torquay or Paignton or any other resort town that has perhaps lost out as a natural holiday destination to the chattering classes! So what a pioneering spirit have Trevor and Jane Brooks with Table, 135 Babbacombe Road, Babbacombe, Torquay (01803-324292). The tiny five table restaurant is a delight. The cooking is classy Australian/Californian with such eclectic dishes as ham hock with corn meal macaroni, truffles and a parsley and rocket Caesar salad, and wild salmon with Cajun spices and wasabi butter. Good wine list strong on New World wines. About pounds 35. Dinner only, 7.30-9.30pm, Tues-Sat. Closed 1-18 February and 1-18 September

Emily Green returns in September

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