Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Rick Stein’s Fish & Chip Shop

We planned our trip down to Padstow well in advance. I was incredibly excited when friends of JC’s decided that they were getting married and that they would be doing it in the bride’s home county of Cornwall. To my absolute delight it turned out the lovely bride was originally from a small parish outside of Padstow called St Eval and that’s the direction we would be heading for the last weekend in April. A weekend in Padstow was exactly what I would need considering I would be experiencing those post-holiday blues when I returned from Australia at the end of March. JC rolled his eyes in mock-grumpy fashion at the thought of me planning yet another getaway, but he knew full well I was a travel & food fanatic when we got together, so I generally just carry on blissfully ignorant of the eye rolling.

We (always read ‘I’ for ‘we’ in these situations) eventually booked up a B&B in Padstow after some t’internet surfing and phoning around – it seems that a weekend in Padstow is even more popular than I imagined. We settled on Althea Library and were given the Yellow Room (no prizes for guessing the colour scheme) for our stay. Jane and Geoff who run the B&B were very welcoming and their warm hospitality made for a very pleasant stay. JC had agreed to take the afternoon off so we could get down there at a reasonable hour on Friday night and we pulled up on schedule at 5pm. As the wedding wasn’t until Saturday afternoon we could relax and take it easy for the next 21 hours. My only real focus was heading for Stein's Fish & Chip Shop down near the harbour so we could sit outside and munch from the box by the harbour. This to me is still a very special part of living in the UK – if you get a decent day there is nothing else like it.

After quickly dropping our bags in the room, we ambled into the town via the churchyard which was only a 10 minute walk, if that. I had been to Padstow once or twice before so I had some vague recollection of where the shop was located, but I was relying heavily on my inbuilt culinary compass to help me out. To be honest you can’t exactly get lost in Padstow so I might be exaggerating, but it’s not bang in the centre of the town so we had to look for it. We even gave directions to other lost food hunters later on that evening. We passed the magnet that is the Seafood Restaurant on the way and I wondered how far in advance you had to book to get in there nowadays. A few years back I had tried to get in on a Saturday, but only 4 days before, so I’m almost certain I heard muffled giggles from the reservations staff on the other end of the phone. I had settled for a table at St Petroc’s Bistro instead which was absolutely wonderful – I will have to make a point of returning in the future so I can regal you with the delights. Rick Stein knows how to cater for budgets of all sizes and delivers on quality at every level I’ve experienced to date.

Once we had by-passed the queue for the fish and chip restaurant, which John had cleverly clocked was separate to that of the actual fish & chip shop, we found ourselves in a much smaller queue for the take-away. The service was super quick and before I knew it I was at the counter umming and ahhing about whether to have the grilled salmon or the grilled monkfish. The wheat & dairy free diet I am currently on put paid to any battered fish, but I’m not a massive fan of batter anyway, so it didn’t matter much to me. I settled on the most expensive grilled fish on the menu, monkfish. I also picked up a bottle of Cornish Orchards apple juice made from Cox, Bramley & old Cornish varieties such as Captain John Broad & Lord of the Isles, which was crisp, bitey and a great way to kill the time whilst waiting for our order. JC, being the traditionalist that he is, opted for good ole cod & chips.

After a relatively short wait, considering it was a Friday night, we stepped out of the shop with our precious fishy dinners and headed for a spot by the harbour. The monkfish was perfectly grilled and looked a picture snuggled up to some chunky looking chips. I squeezed my supplied lemon over the fish and waded in (little angling joke). It was delicious and a lot more of a true fish experience than I generally find fish and chips. John thoroughly enjoyed his battered cod & chips and we made short shrift of our respective meals. Even the glaring eye of a whopping great seagull didn’t put me off. I guess we were lucky we just had the one to contend with, but at one point I thought he might join us on the bench. I followed my fish & chips with a small tub of Cornish ice cream - rum & raisin - which was completely off the radar in terms of diet no-nos, but I was in food mode by then and all my will power went out the window.

We woke the next morning to less than ideal wedding weather – chilly and windy - but kept to our original plan to go for a coastal walk. We had learned from Jane, our hostess, that there was an hour long circular walk from our B&B to Padstow via Tregirls beach and this is where we were headed. So after a fine breakfast of local sausages, grilled tomato and free range scrambled eggs, we were out the door. Despite the windy and quite cold weather, it was a fantastic walk. The rain held off so we at least didn’t have to cope with that pesky element. Some would say that a coastal walk isn’t anything without a good sea breeze so I guess is was fitting. Despite not being a fully paid-up member of the wind fanclub I was very happy to be out and about and we arrived in Padstow town after almost exactly an hour. Then it was on to the wedding. We had a great weekend and I will almost certainly be heading back to Padstow to indulge in more of Rick Stein’s goodies as soon as I get the chance.