Top 5: Places to eat, Port Isaac, Cornwall

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In no particular order, here are the finest joints in the North Cornish village most famous for being the star of TV’s Doc Martin


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Restaurant Nathan Outlaw

Gurnard at Nathan Outlaw
Gurnard at Nathan Outlaw. Photos: SE
The four-course lunch menu at Cornwall’s most garlanded dining room (currently ranked #5 in the UK’s Top 50 Restaurant Awards 2016) features delights like cured monkfish with ginger and fennel, a feather-light turbot with green sauce – and outstanding views over the azure Atlantic sea. But the dish that stood out on our visit was simple pan-fried fillet of local gurnard in Porthilly sauce, reduced and reduced until thick and tomatoey, perfect for those with a predilection for umami. Four courses at lunch are £59 (£119 in evening), five (including a surprising cheese course) £69. Impressive wine flight of four glasses is another £39: the Japanese sparkling Koshu is particularly recommended. More info here. 6 New Road Port Isaac Cornwall PL29 3SB

Fresh From The Sea

The epitome of simple coastal eating: Fresh From The Sea
The epitome of simple coastal eating: Fresh From The Sea. Photos: SE
Probably our most enjoyable afternoon in the bay revolved around a lingering lunch outside this slightly off-the-beaten-track fish cafe and deli. It does exactly what it says it does: dayboat-fresh crab, lobster sarnies or ‘halves’, as we had, the fleshy, tender lobster accompanied by a vibrant avocado salad, with a good range of both Cornish and other wines and craft beers. When it’s a blue sky day the terrace is a real sun-trap, and a friendly place to hang out, too, the service chatty and friendly. Lunches are about £10-15 a head, more with wine. More info here. 18 New Rd, Port Isaac PL29 3SB

The Golden Lion

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Atmospheric. Photo: mikesearlephotography.co.uk/
The best pub in the village, by far. Grab a pint of refreshing Korev (the craft beer from St Austell) and hover on the wrought-iron balcony with its majestic views over the sturdy, sandy cove; or, if it’s tipping down, cosy up in front of the roaring fire. There’s even a smuggling tunnel leading down onto a causeway on the beach. Food-wise, like most options in the area, seafood dominates (and, of course steak): we ate a hearty crab linguine, although it could have been fired up with a bit more chilli and garlic. Mains are about £12-18. More info here. Fore Street, Port Isaac, Cornwall, PL29 3RB

Fish Kitchen

Kippers
Kippers were our favourite plate. Photos: SE
Here’s the rub: we enjoyed the food at Nathan Outlaw’s one-star Fish Kitchen just as much as his far more pricey two-star up the hill – partly down to the lower expectation. In fact, it delivered hit after hit, one plate at a time (order five or six to share between two). Highlights? A cute breadcrumbed plaice fillet with silken strips of cucumber tartare and capers, a circle of ginger-cured mackerel crowned with beetroot chutney. Best of all? Deeply flavoursome pickled herring (pictured), its skin silver, with crunchy red cabbage and a creamy apple. Plates £6.50-£12. More info here. 1 Middle St, Port Isaac PL29 3RH

Port Gaverne

Port Gaverne
Port Gaverne is almost like a tropical hideaway. Photos: SE
Our ‘discovery’ of the week: about a ten minute walk out of town (but very much its own place), Gaverne is a hamlet fringed by desirable houses and cottages, overlooked by an eerily derelict hotel perched on a prominent headland. The only pub/hotel is quite simply destination itself: a mix of tiny, explorable and characterful rooms, some with banquettes and snugs, others with roaring woodburners, plus all manner of nautical pictures and knick-knacks. A slightly Agatha Christie feel pervades, in fact. It’s a bonus then that the food, with an ex-Outlaw chef at the helm, is also sensational. Fished out? Try the bavette, perfectly pink and tender. But delectable crab, lobster and cured salmon are on the menu too. Mains are about £15. More info here. Port Gaverne, Port Isaac PL29 3SQ

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Getting There

Sunset over the harbour at Port Isaac. Photo: SE
Sunset over the harbour at Port Isaac. Photo: SE
It’s a 5 hour drive from London, or take the train to Bodmin Parkway and get a cab. Accommodation: try The Port Gaverne (above),The Slipway, or self-cater: John Bray

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