Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Seafood Restaurant, England by Bureaucrat

The main reason to visit Padstow was to dine at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant. So before we booked our train tickets and accommodation, we made sure that we had a booking at the restaurant. Rick Stein owns quite a few eateries and shops in Padstow. So much so that Padstow is also known as Padstein. The Seafood Restaurant is the fine dining option in Rick Stein's portfolio of eateries.

That's what I'm talking about!

When you enter, a friendly staff member welcomes you in. The SR is decorated in a modern, unpretentious way. In the middle of the restaurant is an oyster bar. Notably, most of the diners are well-to-do baby boomers. Given that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime meal, the Lawyer and I had to be strategic with our menu choices.

But before we get to the mains, we were offered complimentary marinated olives. Juicy and plump.

Also on offer was a basket of flavoursome walnut bread and sourdough.

We were served a complimentary appetizer - smoked mackerel and olive. Very morish, rich and oily (but not unpleasantly so) mackerel was paired well with the sharpness of the olive tapanade.

Having made the difficult decision of deciding what we should have for our mains, we opted for the fruits de mer and the Malaccan crab, both to share. Our waiter suggested that they serve the fruits de mer first, which turned out to be very wise advice.

The fruits de mer was HUGE (see first pic). I could not believe that this is usually ordered as a main dish for one person! Packed and piled high with meaty, succulent and incredibly fresh:

- half lobster with a massive claw
- 1 big mud crab claw (which took me 20 minutes to eat it)
- 2 small crabs
- 1 big swimmer crab
- 1 razor clam,
- 1 massive scallop
- 2 big oysters
- an array of different shellfish
- 2 medium langoustins.

The seafood was just cooked plainly in its own juices, which highlighted how gloriously sweet and extremely fresh it was - I can't emphasise this enough. Some of the seafood was raw, such as the massive scallop, but it was so fresh I didn't care.

It took the Lawyer and I two hours to finish this. We were definitely struggling towards the end to finish the platter - it would have been sacrilegious not to! Because we were so full, we had to, quite reluctantly, cancel our order for the Malaccan crab (which looked really delicious from what I could see from other diners' tables).

We were quite full, but the Lawyer and I both agreed that we had to try some desserts.

I got the pear souffle with cider ice cream. The ice cream was creamy, with a strong appley-pear flavour. The souffle was easily the best I've ever had. Light as air but full of pear flavour (presumably pureed). It was warm and rose to a pleasing, even height.

The Lawyer opted for the tarte tartin. Handmade pastry that was a proper puff pastry - buttery, crispy layers. The apples were perfectly cooked. The Lawyer enjoyed this very much.

For most of the night, our waiter was very friendly and efficient. However, towards the end, it took a while for him to bring out the dessert menu, take our orders, etc. To be fair, our waiter seemed genuinely busy (we went on a Friday night). But another waiter noticed the delay and pitched in - a good sign that the SR staff are trained well.

A bonus for us was that there was an error on the bill in our favour - they only charged us for one of the desserts. Also, the SR doesn't have the odious 'optional service fee' added to the bill. I consider that the SR offers great value for this quality of food and dining experience - you would probably add another 40 pounds to the bill if you wanted the same experience in London.

For us, dining at the SR was well worth the 30 minute tube ride, 4.5 hour train ride and the 1 hour bus ride to get to Padstow. The SR is a class act - it serves excellent, fresh produce and is proud of it. A memorable gastronomic experience!

The Seafood Restaurant
Riverside, Padstow
Telephone: 01841 532 700

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