Please note: my meal at Tolcarne Inn was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Tolcarne Inn is situated in Newlyn Harbour, just a 20 minute walk (or 5 minute taxi ride) from our B&B, Chapel House. Newlyn is still a working fishing village in Cornwall, and much of the fresh fish we enjoyed in restaurants during our stay was caught in Newlyn, just a few hours before being served to hungry diners.
I adore fish and seafood, so it’s always a big treat to me to enjoy it whenever I go to Cornwall. After our long train journey from London, Mum and I had worked up quite an appetite, so, after checking in to Chapel House, we were excited to set off for dinner at Tolcarne Inn. On arrival, I was immediately delighted by the beautiful building, which dates from 1717 and looks like it could be in a Daphne du Maurier novel!
Tolcarne Inn nestles against the wall of Newlyn Harbour, and the restaurant is renowned for its innovative, predominately seafood-based menu and snug, laid-back atmosphere. Head Chef, Ben Tunnicliffe, has been in Cornwall since 2001 and held a Michelin Star at The Abbey in Penzance, before going on to oversee the launch of the menu at The Scarlet Hotel.
Ben took over the Tolcarne in 2012, and its reputation has grown from strength to strength over the years, with Ben focusing on working closely with fishermen to ensure the best catch of the day. A Michelin Bib Gourmand (awarded for exceptional food at affordable prices) has been retained by the Tolcarne since 2013, and it’s easy to see why, as the menu, although fairly short, offers a spectacular array of local produce and seafood.
We were given a table right by the window and ordered a couple glasses of Cornish sparkling wine as we read the daily specials chalked on a large board above the bar. The wine was delicious – dry and light – and it added just the right celebratory fizz to our evening.
After toasting to a fabulous weekend ahead of us, and the start of Mum’s annual holiday, we turned our minds to the important question of what to eat. Both of us adore scallops, so it wasn’t surprising that neither of us could resist seared scallops in a spiced squash veloute with yoghurt and toasted seeds.
Our knives went through our scallops as smoothly as though they were cutting butter, and I don’t think I’ve ever had scallops served as unusually and deliciously before! Swimming in the rich, spicy sauce, the shellfish still managed to maintain their sweet flavour that paired well against the robustness of the squash. A drizzle of yoghurt cut the spice nicely, and the toasted seeds added interesting texture as well as a pleasantly nutty taste.
Next, I’d ordered fillet of brill with garlic, mushrooms, runner beans and gnocchi. Mum went for fillet of plaice with peas, smoked bacon, lettuce, mascarpone, mint, and potatoes. We also ordered a couple glasses of a delicious chardonnay to accompany our main courses.
My main dish was absolutely fantastic; I loved the autumnal, earthy flavours of the garlicky mushrooms. They were a great choice with the brill which is quite a meaty, deeply flavourful fish. The runner beans were light and fresh, and the large, baked gnocchi were decadently scrumptious. I polished off every wonderful mouthful! Mum was equally pleased with her plaice, a much more delicate, subtlety flavoured fish, wish she said was fabulous with the peas, bacon, lettuce and creamy sauce.
We were tempted to the same choice again for dessert and ordered the whole orange and polenta cake with blueberries, cardamom, poached apricot and vanilla ice-cream.
I always think of Claudia Roden’s famous recipe whenever I see whole orange cake on a menu, and I think the Tolcarne Inn’s version more than did her justice! Our cake was moist with a fabulous citrus flavour and just a hint of cardamom that married perfectly with the apricot, vanilla and blueberry sauce.
We rounded off our meal with a cup of coffee for Mum and a peppermint tea for me and sat chatting for a little while before heading back to our B&B. I was so impressed by Tolcarne Inn and can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re in the area. I wish I’d known about it when I visited Penzance last October with my Dad and Grandmother, as they would have thoroughly enjoyed it too, but now it’s on my radar, I’ll definitely be returning whenever I’m back in Cornwall!
Tolcarne Inn, Newlyn, Cornwall
To book a table, visit www.tolcarneinn.co.uk or call 01736 363074