What is it about Padstow and restaurant empires? The Cornish fishing village was put on the culinary map by a certain Rick Stein, who seems to own half its restaurants, but, more recently, there’s been a new kid in town (who appears to own the other half).
Said chef is Paul Ainsworth, who has a chic boutique hotel and a casual pizza restaurant in Padstow (and has also taken on a pub nearby), but who is best known for the eponymous fine dining restaurant he runs with his wife, Emma. The Michelin-starred restaurant, located in a Georgian townhouse, has built a reputation for its fun approach to fine dining, serving modern British food with a focus on Cornish produce.
Ainsworth is a playful character and someone who is keen to bring something new to the table, as it were. A dish of cod comes with a seaweed ‘quaver’, while his dish ‘All of the pigeon’ features a pain au chocolat as an accompaniment. A chocolate vol au vent for dessert, meanwhile, comes with a caramel made from ceps for a more measured sweetness. The dining room itself is just as fun, with bright, colourful artwork helping create a space that reflects the couple’s personalities.
Fans of the BBC's Great British Menu will remember Ainsworth’s winning A Taste of the Fairground dish from the 2011 series, which featured for a long time on the restaurant’s menu before coming off. Such was the popularity of the fairground inspired selection of desserts that Ainsworth recently reprised it as A Fairground Tale. It’s a delightfully whimsical way to finish off a memorable meal.