Arriving in Cornwall for the weekend on Friday afternoon, Mr Q and I were absolutely knackered, but amazed by the village of Port Isaac.
For anyone familiar with the Doc Martin TV series, Port Isaac is where the fictional village of Portwenn is based. And let me tell you – it’s even better and more beautiful when you’re there in person.
Even though the wind and the drizzle were battering the coastline, we wrapped up warm, got outside and explored. As the whole of Port Isaac is actually quite small, our hotel was only a very short walk from everywhere, so we settled into one of the local pubs for a few drinks.
A shabby-looking exterior and rather masculine bar area gave way to a hushed and fairly luxurious dining room that we definitely weren’t expecting. Our table was cosy (probably too cosy for six people) and situated right outside the bathrooms – not a great start.
But, the redeeming factor was that The Slipway Restaurant dinner menu was extensive with about a dozen starters and just as many main courses. With so much local seafood and fish on offer I had trouble deciding what to order, but eventually went with the scallops with black pudding for starter and the dressed Port Isaac crab served in the shell with salad and garlic potatoes for main.
I love the combination of scallops and black pudding. The fresh sweetness of sauteed scallops counteracts the rich saltiness of the black pudding beautifully. The addition of a touch of balsamic, rocket and parmesan made this a really awesome starter. I could have eaten three serves quite happily!
My main arrived and I was bowled over by the generous serving of hand-picked crab meat. When I’ve eaten crab in similar restaurants in the past, the amount of actual crab meat on the plate has been disappointing. Not only the serving generous here, but it was beautifully dressed and sat alongside a salad that was actually edible (not just a pretty garnish).
I didn’t manage dessert, but my dad and mother-in-law shared the cheese plate that carried hefty chunks of local cheeses and a good-sized dish of homemade chutney.
The rest of the night was a little hazy – I’ve got the pre-dinner drinks to thank for that – so I can’t recount the prices of each dish, but I think it was fairly reasonable for the quality. The only real let-down was the speed of the service – we waited a long time between drinks (and would probably have spent twice as much money given the chance).
I’d say The Slipway Restaurant may miss out on many customers who simply don’t know that above the grotty pub there’s a quality restaurant, but that probably works to their advantage, as if we had to compete with any more diners for attention from the staff that evening we’d still be waiting to eat!