Outlaw’s, Port Isaac

July 2022

Earlier this year there was news on the grapevine that Nathan Outlaw, chef and fish aficionado,  was opening a guesthouse in Port Isaac. The small fishing village in Cornwall was already home to two of Outlaw’s Michelin-starred restaurants. The new guesthouse would offer a two-night ‘foodie retreat’ package; on one night visitors could eat at ‘Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen’ and on the other at ‘Outlaw’s New Road’. How could I resist?… I promptly booked the package for Nick’s birthday – any excuse! In my excitement at getting a reservation, I had forgotten just how long the car journey is from London to Cornwall, and I must admit, that as the date of our visit approached I began to dread the 5-6 hour journey down to Port Isaac – could eating at these two restaurants really be worth that trip just for a weekend?!…

On arrival at the quaint, picturesque village of Port Isaac, any regrets very quickly disappeared, it felt like a world away from the city and straightaway we both felt relaxed by the change of scenery. It was a bonus that the UK was experiencing a heatwave, the skies were blue and the view out to sea was crystal clear. Outlaw’s Guest House is perched above Port Isaac, looking out along the coast towards Tintagel Castle, we were impressed by its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and home-from-home attitude. There’s an honesty bar for when they’re not around to make drinks and there are complimentary afternoon teas, which included specially made gluten-free scones and cakes for me; it really does feel that they go that ‘extra mile’ to make your stay enjoyable!

Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen

Having settled into our simple, but very comfortable room we strolled down to the port for the first instalment of our ‘foodie package’. Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen can be found in a tiny 15th-century fisherman’s cottage in the heart of Port Isaac. It’s the more casual of the two Outlaw restaurants, serving a fixed menu of small, original seafood plates. The menu noted ‘You shall have a fishy on a dishy…When the boat comes in…’ and indeed it’s the sea, fisherman and local growers that dictate their daily menu, everything is incredibly fresh. Before the dishes started to arrive we were treated to a couple of canapes, ‘Cods Roe on Brioche’ and ‘Crab on Rye’, they were the perfect complement to our house cocktails. These were followed by our first course of ‘Cured Bass Tostada, Tomato, Avocado & Chilli’, which was wonderfully fresh and light with just the right balance of chilli and tang from the pickled onions. Next up was ‘Spiced Ling, Fennel & Gherkin’, the ling which was wrapped in subtle curry spices, was delicious with the yoghurt dip and lightly pickled fennel and gherkin salad. ‘Lobster Dumpling & Sesame Toast’ was a clean, light dish to follow the spice of the Ling; it was clear to see that the menu was all about balancing the flavours to excite the taste buds. Indeed the ‘Monkfish Satay, Peanut & Lime’ was pure excitement, it had comforting flavours that thrilled. Equally, ‘Turbot On The Bone, Mint & Coriander Butter’, was exactly the right combination of fresh flavours that our taste buds needed after the sublime sweetness of the satay. Finally, the dessert was a zingy ‘Strawberry & Limoncello Parfait with Meringue’, it was an inspired choice to finish a fantastic meal.

The next morning we awoke ready for the next course of our ‘foodie retreat’… Breakfasts at Outlaws did not disappoint in addition to the homemade croissants, granola and fruit compotes (gooseberry was my favourite!), there was a choice of ‘Full English’ or ‘Kedgeree’. Having refuelled we drove to nearby Rock and hopped on the little ferry to Padstow to check out Rick Stein’s neck-of-the woods however, we were far too full to contemplate a lunch at one of his three establishments! Taking the ferry back from Padstow, we smugly agreed that we preferred the more tranquil ambience of ‘Port Isaac’. Next on our agenda was Tintagel with its ancient castle ruins, legends of King Arthur and infamous footbridge that visitors take to its little island. The views from Tintagel are phenomenal, breath taking and refreshing. So refreshing that we were now feeling peckish, so we made our way back to the comfort of Outlaw’s Guest House for the complimentary afternoon cream tea – leaving room for our dinner at ‘Outlaw’s New Road’…

Outlaw’s New Road

Outlaw’s New Road is literally a ‘stones-throw’ across the road from Outlaw’s Guest House. Before crossing the road we enjoyed an aperitif on the guest house’s terrace with its incredible vista of the coast, we could just make out the Tintagel footbridge we had crossed earlier! Our second tasting dinner was a slightly more grown-up affair, the fish menu features classic, elegant flavours. To kick off the ‘fish show’ there was sweetly smoked trout with rye bread and a light crab salad. This was followed by ‘Raw Bass’, served with a beautifully light pea jus and a ‘Lobster Salad’, with chunks of lobster which were lightly dressed allowing them to sing with their full, fresh flavour. Next up was ‘Lobster Bisque’, which was incredibly flavoursome with the added surprise of a delicious piece of hake nestling under its surface. Equally good was ‘Mackerel’, served with the delicate, sweet crunch of kohlrabi. Finally, ‘Bass’ was served with a wonderful creamy wine sauce with gnocchi, broad beans and spinach; it goes without saying that it was a perfectly cooked piece of fish (the chefs at Outlaw’s definitely know a thing or two about fish!), its delicate flavour was perfectly matched by its accompaniments. Dessert was ‘80% Chocolate’, a fondant pudding with crème fraiche ice cream and a brandy snap. It was a rich, wonderfully executed dessert – a sublime end to a sensational meal.

Our stay at Outlaw’s Guest House and our meals at their restaurants exceeded our expectations. Both restaurants serve fish faultlessly, it was inspiring to see how the flavours evolved around each fish without overpowering its delicate taste. Of course, you don’t have to stay at Outlaw’s Guest House to eat at either restaurant, but if you want to be spoilt for a couple of nights it really is a great package. The staff at the guest house were particularly warm and friendly – they seemed genuinely invested in the business. On leaving I was presented with a ‘doggy bag’ of the gluten-free treats that I hadn’t managed to eat the day before – a ‘little something’ for the road trip; it’s these little extras that make all the difference and leave you wanting to return again and again!…