Cornwall's Spring Feast Fortnight is now in full swing and yesterday, on a gloriously balmy Spring evening, we drove down to The Harbour Restaurant in Port Isaac to sample some of the dishes on their Spring Feast Menu.
The quaint 15th Century building that the Harbour Restaurant calls home is located right by the waters edge in the small fishing village of Port Isaac (aka Port Wenn of Doc Martin fame). It is run by professional chef Emily, who trained at the well respected cookery school Tante Marie. She also spent time on the continent, which is reflected in the style of dishes she serves, before returning to the UK to set up home in North Cornwall.
The restaurant prides itself on using the freshest local produce available - the fish, for example are landed just yards from the front door in the small fishing port. Emily also sources meat and poultry from nearby farms, cured meat from Deli Farm in Delabole - just 5 miles away, as well as local cornish cheeses from small artisan producers. The menu changes almost daily, reflecting the latest catch or offering from her local suppliers.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was cosy and relaxed and the decor captured the essence of a typical Cornish seaside fishing port, with picturesque views out to sea an added bonus. Front of house service was very friendly and attentive and the specials were presented at the table clearly and informatively. We started the meal with some homemade garlic focaccia, which had an almost cake like melt in the mouth texture, onion bread and olive oil.
Fish and seafood feature heavily on the menu and for starters I opted for the scallops served simply with garlic, lemon and parsley with a rocket salad. The scallops were beautifully presented in their shells, perfectly cooked and tender. The evenings menu also provided the option of fishcakes with chilli jam, which had a fresh lemony taste, smoked mackerel pate as well as broad beans with olives and mozzarella. I would have quite happily eaten them all.
For the main course I chose the only non fish item on the menu, leek and cornish blue tart with homemade rustic chips. The saltiness of the cheese complimented the sweet leeks perfectly in a crisp pastry case and the homemade chips were chunky (just how I like them) and well seasoned. The monkfish, coppa, vine tomato and rosemary potato dish that my husband ordered and which I got to have a sneaky taste of, was beautiful. The monkfish was mild and slightly sweet and was complimented perfectly by the salty coppa and vine tomatoes. For my husband (who by self-confession has never been a huge fish fan) to enjoy a meal so much speaks volumes for the quality of the food and its flavours.
We couldn't resist having a look at the dessert menu and as soon as I laid eyes on the vanilla panna cotta with passion fruit it was a done deal. The panna cotta was set to perfection, had a gloriously smooth texture and a subtle vanilla flavour, which complimented the passion fruit coulis perfectly. My husband opted, as he usually does, for chocolate - an indulgent brownie with vanilla ice cream. The brownie was perfectly crisp on top with a lovely soft texture in the centre, a nice deep chocolate taste without being overpoweringly dark and rich. It rounded off an amazing meal.
Jason and Emily have established the restaurant beautifully and judging by the number of enquiries on the night it looks set to thrive into the future. For reservations please call 01208 880237