If I said that Boscundle was an entirely new discovery wouldn’t be the truth. Locals have quietly considered this small, chic hotel – possibly too quietly – as having one of the best restaurants within St. Austell. However, best-kept secrets can sometime be skewed.
I’d not though about eating at Boscundle for years. I like my food experience to stimulate my imagination and not just my taste buds and my assumption was, based on its country manor location, that the offering would be very formal, conventional and a tad expensive. But I love those terrific moments of epiphany when you can happily say, ‘I was wrong. I’ve now seen the light’.
The experience for me has just blown my tongue’s nerve endings out of hibernation. I love food experiences when they are so good that you go on dining on the memory of it for weeks, maybe even years, afterwards and this was most definitely one of those. The other half and I will still be asking each other ‘what magic had been performed in a seemingly simple yet velvety smooth Pea veloute to make it taste better and fresher than fresh peas straight from the pod?’ for years to come. This is not toe-curling over-enthusiasm being expressed here. I’m too British for that. Quite simply this was a beautiful introduction to six amazing courses of a superb tasting menu at an amazingly reasonable price of £49 per head. Added to which we were treated to a glass of Prosecco and a plate of delicious canapés while we read the menu. It will now go down as one of the best stand out meals I’ve possible ever had.
My mother once worked as a cook and she effortlessly produced thousands of family meals all through her lifetime. I too, cook meals from scratch almost everyday. It means that a meal that’s been cooked for me is always a treat. I like to think I’m not a boring cook but I am a bored cook and I most want eat food that’s genuinely delicious. Luckily in Cornwall, we’re completely spoiled for fresh produce, and have a swelling gastronomic reputation enhanced by celebrity restaurants and a healthy collection of Michelin stars. I can rattle off the names of a good dozen male chefs who have very notable reputations, but only knew of two women in Cornwall who ran restaurants worth making a beeline for. How does that imbalance occur? Scores of women like my mother and I, effortlessly bang out good meals all their lives and we remain ordinary. It’s as if men are in possession of some superior ‘chef gene’ that transcends decent cooking into culinary brilliance. This thought had surfaced in my brain and grew with certainty with each exquisite course. It shames me that I assumed that just because the food was so carefully constructed it could only be man-made.
The smooth pea soup served in a witty black, with white spots, coffee cup had three whole peas to be discovered like sweet bursts of summer in my childhood’s kitchen garden.
The second course that followed was a flavourful and densely meaty ham hock terrine with celeriac, a hint of mustard and apple and caramel dots.
The third course caught me by surprise. Incredulous that the placing of a mackerel fillet on spidery fennel and orange segments with a cider and caper dressing should work was extraordinary. Not to be deconstructed and examined but best taken as a mouthful of all the flavours combined. Naturally it seemed wrong to have fish with orange and yet together it tasted… bizarre… but right.
The only course that seemed more ordinary, but no less delicious, was the main: Breast of Cornish duck, confit leg, fondant potato, cherry sauce. Saying that just proves how much I was being spoilt.
Finally, in rapturous awe, although we did our best to slow our dining experience to snail’s pace, we drew into the pudding zone.
I wonder have you ever had a chocolate crème brulée? A piece of heaven that I can’t help wondering why something so obvious isn’t everywhere. My husband has a thing about chocolate and one tiny spoonful and he was summoning the waitress. “The thing is,” he says, “this is too good to have now. Would you mind taking it away now and bringing it back so I can enjoy it with my coffee?” I gave an apologetic smile on his behalf but she was very obliging and perfectly happy to humour him. Perhaps she should have mentioned that there was to be petite fours with the coffee and spared his later blushes.
Pudding didn’t end there; the final delight was out of this world: Strawberry and champagne jelly, honeycomb and elderflower sorbet. Not only a thing of beauty that held an assortment of delicious blue and red berries in suspended flotation, but full of surprising sparkling tingles on the tongue. It was fresh, light and a perfect end that I did my best to finish slowly. Clever, clever chef I thought, turning food into divine. Boscundle’s head chef and hidden talent is one to watch. Remember the name: Jenny Reed, a girl, hurrah!
Boscundle, St Austell, PL25 3RL UK
01726 813557, e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
This review featured in Cornwall Today Magazine September 2013