Padstow feels like the town that Rick built.
From his fish and chip shop, to his patisserie, to his gift shop, to his shiny flagship Seafood Restaurant that overlooks the bobbing boats in the harbour…
So on a sunny Saturday morning we pile into a car and wind our way from the16th century cottage in Boscastle that we’ve made our temporary home and up and over the craggy coast to the other side of Cornwall.
As a town, Padstow reminds a few of us of Honfleur. There’s the same muddled smells of salt and diesel. The intimate pedestrian streets. The jumbled mix of tourist schlock and things that are sweet and intriguing. And the promise of some very good things to eat.
We’ve already had breakfast of scrambled eggs, local butter and cream, but it’s hard to say no in these circumstances. It’s a Cornish pastie (now an AOC protected foodstuff) and a passable coffee from Rick’s patisserie. Then it’s a wander up and over towards the beach to try and generate more of an appetite. While The Hungry One goes for a solitary walk up the beach, I get a phone call with good news from Sydney. If anyone wants to know what I look like when one of my oldest friends tells me she’s getting married to a very lovely lad, this is it:
And then it’s time for lunch.
We choose St Petroc’s; the Mediterranean bistro in Rick’s restaurant fleet. For one, the price tag was friendlier than at the Seafood Restaurant with its supplement of harbourside views. For two, a member of our party is allergic to shellfish. The bistro seemed like the safer option (and besides, The Hungry One and I are quite nostalgic for Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. When it first screened on television we would dash home from work on a Wednesday evening, pour a glass of wine and pretend that we were lazily floating along the canals right with him).
There’s a set lunch of three courses, with three choices in each for just shy of 18 pounds. Yet today we’re up for something much more casual. The boys start with a house ale, flavoured with fennel and named in homage to Rick’s dearly departed dog and frequent television co-star ‘Chalky’.
Instead of a heavy lunch we’re opting to share a selection of starters.
The boys are happier with the scallops on the half shell.
The frites are slightly soggy and a salad is a simple collection of leafy greens, neatly dressed.
On another day, when I hadn’t indulged quite so much with local clotted cream on my breakfast and pasties for elevenses I may have been tempted by a whole grilled lemon sole with bernaise, or a piece of bavette steak from the grill. I could have even had a serve of sticky toffee pudding with more clotted cream for dessert.
Instead we choose a restrained path of fresh air and a second amble by the seaside.
St Petroc’s Bistro
New Street, Padstow, Cornwall
Reservations: 01841 532700
Open every day
Lunch: 12pm – 2pm
Dinner: 6.30pm – 9.30pm