Nathan Outlaw is the God of cooking fish.
Just look at this Smoked Haddock Scotch Egg with Curry Sauce. Delicious. Taking all the the ingredients of the breakfast favourite Kedgeree an turning it into something infinitely more moreish – we had two of these at £8.50 a pop.
Nathan’s cooking isn’t budget but as, in my view, he is the perfect person to serve you fish on a Cornish holiday I don’t mind paying because that is about my favourite way in the whole world to spend my time.
This is the latest restaurant in his mini empire and offers a fish based tapas style in a converted fisherman’s cottage in Port Isaac – where the TV series Doc Martin is filmed.
The new venture is overseen by chef Paul Ripley, like Nathan an alumni of Rick Stein’s famous Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, and whose food I once ate at the now defunct Ripley’s restaurant in the same area.
Nathan meanwhile is based St Endoc Hotel (www.enodoc-hotel.co.uk) in Rock, Cornwall, where he has his renowned Restaurant Nathan Outlaw which was awarded 2 Michelin Stars in 2011 and has been named as the Best Seafood Restaurant in the UK by The Good Food Guide, and his more relaxed Outlaw’s Restaurant.
I’ve eaten at both and the tasting menu at the former is one of the best meals I have had.
I’ve yet to try his London venture – Outlaw’s at The Capital Hotel, London – and I’m worried eating fish miles from the ozone of the sea won’t be the same but it’s on my list.
Back to the Fish Kitchen.
I visited in February with two friends and their little girl and we were able to get a table straight away. However it is worth noting that the restaurant is small and does not take bookings at lunchtime and the waitress told us that there were huge queues when it opened last summer.
We were recommended to take three dishes each but we started off with two and then added to them as our hunger was sated and our tastebuds called for repeat courses and more variety.
The highlight for us all was the Scotch Egg. It’s worth going just for this and I expect it to become a classic, warm, crispy, soft, runny, smokey, creamy and mildly spiced.
The windows of the restaurant look out onto the harbour where some of the fish served in the restaurant is landed and the menu alters depending on what fish is best and available.
Then came a special of smoked mackerel pate – I expect this was extra item added because of a problem with fish supply caused by terrible weather.
I have strong childhood memories of pulling a string of mackerel from the cool water of the coast and so think of the fish as the emblem of the county of Cornwall and the pate did the fish the justice it deserved.
We each had a plump Raw Porthilly Oyster at £3 which brought the ultimate taste of the sea.
Next was the Wild Black Bream, Roasted Red Pepper and Thyme Marmalade, £10, which brought a nice contrast of robust flaky fish flesh and sticky sweetness.
Next came a Seafood Stew: Salt Cod, Octopus, Mussels and Lomo Ham, £13, which was a perfect salty mouthful of tomato loveliness. I’d like to see this on another menu as a main course, perhaps with a some fresh bread and butter.
Another special on the menu was a plate of tiny bay scallops served on the half shell which had been grilled with a buttery and herby sauce. I guess there were about 10 of these for the £15 and they reminded me, if only in sight not flavour of a plate of escargots.
At this stage of the meal we were on our second bottle of Outlaw’s Grolleau Gris, 2011, and my photography took a backseat to the business of eating and drinking.
I know we ate Crispy Ling, Pickled Carrot and Green Chilli, Roast Garlic Mayonnaise, £8, and a plate of dainty Shoestring Potatoes, £3, which were both delicious – the Ling being a fish with a consistency similar to Monkfish.
There was another Scotch Egg, and in hindsight I am surprised there weren’t more.
As well as the wine we also drank a bottle of Sharp’s Cornish Pilsner, £5, which was perfect with the scallops and was voted World’s Best Lager at World Beer Awards 2013, Gold, which as far as selling points go is about as good as it gets.
To finish the meal we shared Baked Rice Pudding, Gingerbread, Rhubarb and Ginger Sorbet, £7, and a Dark Chocolate and Salted Peanut Brownie, Vanilla Cream, Butterscotch Sauce, £7.
The puddings were washed down with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes, £6.50, and all too soon the meal was over.
If you like fish this is wonderful restaurant with a relaxed ambience and some great cooking.
Another hit for Nathan and his team. I’ve fallen for Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen hook, line and sinker.