We stumbled across this place after originally quite a while ago, and have always found the staff warm and friendly staff. The menu was varied and offered a great choice, portions were absolutely huge!. The food was very tasty and offered good value for money, You can ask for any other fish from the Fresh Fish counter good range that they sell, and will happily batter or cook without batter it for you. You really do have to sample there Shell Fish range divine...
Favorite Dish: We ordered Haddock,Lemon Sole & Mackerel, all battered with chips We ordered fairly quickly, and just a little wait as everything is cooked fresh and was cooked to perfection boy is it worth every penny ...
Well, this really was a dolphin-friendly meal! Just as I was finishing my main course, the waitress said ' look, dolphins!' And there in the bay, very close to shore, was a school of dolphin, playing beside the fishing boats.
Anyway, back to the restaurant. It's perched above the smallest of St Ives' beaches, Porthgwidden, in the lee of the mound on which the chapel and coastguard station sit. It's Greek-style, with white plaster walls, blue tile topped tables and lots of blue and yellow stripy cushions. The cuisine is Australian, thanks to the charming Australian chef and his girlfriend, the dolphin-spotting waitress.
Starter was char grilled asparagus with pecorino and truffle oil. Main was deee-licious salmon with sticky rice and pan fried prawns. Two courses and two glasses of Oyster Bay Sauvignon was a very reasonable £25. Tips in cash, please!
Sister restaurant to the Porthminster Cafe.
Cornish Fudges of varied types and made of all different types of nuts and interesting combinations worth tasting and trying out atleast once!!!
Favorite Dish: Rum & Raisin, Walnut, Ginger, Almond and sooooo many more!!!
There are several ice cream parlours in St Ives' harbour, but this is my favourite even if I also like the locally maid Moomaid of Zennor. At Jus' Desserts, they have loads of flavours of both ice cream and sorbet, all displayed in the Italian way with fruit and nuts etc. on top of it to make it look extra appetising. It is open until well into the evening so you can try it not only on a gloriously sunny day when you are an open target to the swooping seagulls, but also when coming out of the neighbouring harbour amusements in the evening with the kids.
Favorite Dish: Clotted cream - this most Cornish of ice cream flavours is at its best here. I also like the toffee one and the surprising mojito sorbet. I'm sure you'll find something too.
Blas is Cornish for "taste" and this place sure serves tasty food - I have not tried every burger joint in Britain but this is often referred to as the best burgers in England by food reviewers and I can only agree that they have the best ones I have tried so far. In fact, Blas has restored my faith in British people being able to make burgers at all, since so many can be horrible.
A place this reviewed is of course quite crowded too during high season, and the small dining area also contributes to this, but let me tell you it's worth the wait. They do not take reservations in advance, but if you turn up at the door and it is full, they will write your name on their blackboard and ask that you come back at a given later time. Since kids love burgers, there tends to be an early session around 19.00 when families crowd here, and a later one around 21.00 (they close at 22.00) when others pop by. We never had the patience to wait the first time we tried, but the second day we came back at 18.00 which was just before the "after beach dinner rush" and that was perfect. There are a couple of smaller tables and two really big ones so you will most likely find yourself sharing a table with others but this only adds to the youthful feel of this place - but when I write youthful, I mean in its most positive sense and the whole experience reminded me of when I was backpacking in my late teens and early 20s and sat chatting with strangers in some cool hostel.
Blas is run by two ladies who have combined different ideas into this place, and sometimes you meet them in the open kitchen where they mainly make burgers since that's what people come for. There is always a "Burger du jour" which also comes in a veggie version, as well as several others to chose from on the menu. Great Cornish Orchard cider and Betty Stogs beer are found here along with a lot of other drinks, and from the moment you enter, you realise that here at Blas they care for the environment. A lot is organic and/or locally sourced, including produce from the owners' friends, and even the drinking straws are made of other things than plastic whilst you are also sitting on recycled material. A great experience in many ways!
Favorite Dish: Bacon and avocado burger...mmm...
It is hard to be spontaneous in St Ives Harbour on a busy summer evening but spontaneous was what we were most days since we made daytrips and never knew quite when we would get back or how hungry we would be in the evenings. Consequently, we never reserved a table and that is otherwise a good thing to do here since it is a popular place. We were also not quite dressed up for the occasion since we noticed that most people had made more of an effort, but nevertheless, we were welcomed just like everyone else and it was not particularly posh compared to big city fine dining but more a case of us feeling slightly out of place in casual excursion wear.
Hobblers were kind of inofficial pilots, who pulled bigger ships in and this they did to this old building, hence the name of the place. It is run by a lady who looked to us like a former ballet dancer or something in the way she moved, acted and dressed in a slightly hippie-ish way and why not, St Ives attracts all kinds of artistic people. We were greeted by her but then got one of the waiters to serve us and that was good, efficient service if somewhat strict - the wine recommendations were excellent.
The place is a well known building (and restaurant) in town and has existed for centuries so the two floor building is narrow and quite cramped and not for people with mobility difficulties. The few tables that overlook the harbour are quite romantic and typically only for two people so if you are a bigger company you will end up further back but that is also nice since it is all very cosy in dark red and wood and with a maritime theme. The food served here is mostly local produce like Cornish beef and local fish dishes, coupled with some international classics now and again.
Favorite Dish: We stopped here and thought it worth a look since I remembered seeing it on VT and despite the slighlty higher than average prices we wanted to give it a go to avoid another day of pub grub and lovely but huge fish & chips. Since we managed to arrive early there was a table and we went for main course and dessert. I had a fish pie with scallops and mushrooms in a white wine sauce under a bed of mash. Similar to a Swedish "fish gratin" but distinctly English I enjoyed it whilst hubby had a cod dish (where I wonder how local that was since I know a lot of English cod is bought from China but let's hope...) and our daughter settled for Thai fish cakes and both enjoyed theirs too. Us adults then finished off with a Bramley apple pie which was superb. Probably not home made due to the small kitchen but perhaps baked for the restaurant somewhere since there was detail in the making. Served with clotted cream I still dream about it...
The best thing about this place is its location right above Porthmeor Beach. You can sit here and just observe the wheather, the sea and people enjoying it. The downstairs bit serve swimmers and surfers with hot and cold drinks and has quite a wide range of freshly prepared fruit juices and smoothies. There you can also find ice cream and some snacks as well as beach toys. Beware of seagulls wanting to share your food...
Upstairs is more of a restaurant but only half of it is indoors and the other half on a terrace so it can get a bit cramped if the weather turns nasty. Still, it is cosy if you manage to find a place and staff is very friendly. The menu here is Mediterranean with dishes including aubergins and meze style things, but they also do tea with scones, their own (small) burgers and stuff. A lot of what is served here is organic and local, such as the bread the appetising sandwiches are made of. There is easy listening music in the background and all in all its a great little place when not too crowded - it's that it often is that is the problem. The place is open Easter to early November, all days from 9-18 and this is prolonged until 21.30 in summer.
Favorite Dish: During our first visit, I had tea and scones which were not the best I've ever had but perfectly yummy still. Some other tourists had the burger which looked nice and healthy but a bit boring with that almost ciabatta-like bread bap and lots of mangold-type salad (and burgers is something you should try at Blas Burgerworks instead - see tip). Probably outstanding quality but just not how I like burgers as then I'd rather have a yummy salad or a steak. The aubergine things looked very good on the menu and I would have had it if we had stopped for more than a short break - hope to come back again soon and enjoy the sunset. Meanwhile, I have stopped several times for a juice or coffee depending on the weather, whilst my daughter has been surfing. I find that if you need something hot, stick to the tea since the coffee is quite weak and might only please you if you are American (sorry but like the Italians and Turks, coffee obsessed Swedes tend to like it a lot stronger). The juices are varying - I absolutely love the mango and orange blend whilst the strawberry, watermelon and mint one depends too much on the strawberries being a ripe and sweet batch and that's not always the case.
Knowing what we know today, we are not that impressed, but Penganna looks amazing when you come walking down the High Street and see whole trays of pasties just waiting to be baked and people busy by the oven. There is also sometimes a queue here around lunch so that made us want to try it but we were in fact quite disappointed. You have to come early for a start as even if there is half an hour to go until closure, that might still mean that the real Cornish pasties (or just pasties as people say here) are gone and you are left with other pasties. Secondly, the meat was full of gristle which I can handle but not everyone can and just because I can does not mean I enjoy it. Finally, the outside was far too floury - like when you bake cookies and they look too dusted in the end when you've had to roll them again and again before getting them on their tray. Perhaps this is North Cornwall way to make them? I notice that most of their branches is up that way...
We tried them again in 2010 just to make sure we weren't just unlucky, and because we so want to like this traditional place with its non-pre baked pasties but nope. It's OK, but the meat was still not a good cut and the whole thing is so sturdy my stomach was upset for more than a day whilst I normally have no problems whatsoever with pasties (can be both a good and a bad thing that!)
Favorite Dish: Cheese and onion as always...so I think it's the traditional meat ones that present a problem here. What will always make me come back here though is the fantastic apple juice. Only once have I ever had an equally good one (in Sweden) to what Pengenna has in its fridge from some Cornish orchard. Claims to be completely natural but tastes like liquid apple pie! Mmm...
This is one of the most famous restaurants in St Ives, if not Cornwall, and rightly so considering both the menu and the setting. The café, open from late March, is right on Porthminster Beach (see tip) and has fish & chips, pasties and other fast food downstairs for beach parties (and the fish & chips there was recently voted some of the best in the South-West) but it is the upstairs restaurant that draws the great crowds and makes table reservation a must unless you are extremely lucky. Hand picked scallops and such is what you can expect here - saves the ocean floor and also gives you scallops without a load of grit in them - and they do their best for sustainable fishing and other environmental issues. At the same time, they sometimes serve fois gras with some dishes so they are not completely strict in this "ethical" policy they have, but they definitely try with most things.
The first time we were here, we never managed to get a table in the restaurant upstairs so we tried the beach cafe downstairs with its picnic tables on the beach. The setting is almost as marvellous down there but you are lower down on the beach so there is less of a view. The only real problem downstairs is otherwise that you are exposed to the weather since it's all outside on the beach itself and you just order by a counter so there is no waiter service. The prices given below are for the restaurant and not the downstairs café by the way...
Our second time in St Ives, we booked a table in the restaurant itself. Our table was on the terrace outside (we could get one inside too but later in the evening). When it rains, your back is a bit exposed to "windy drizzle" at the far end tables of the terrace so try to get a table further in when you book the terrace. Otherwise it is snug and warm out there too since it has a roof and canvas style "walls" and heaters. The only thing is that the view in bad weather is less romantic than inside where there are proper windows rather than the plastic variety which they use in rain outside. Still, you can see out and the atmosphere both inside and out is great with relaxed and friendly, but yet efficient staff.
The restaurant has a summery bright interior with a wooden floor, white walls and windows onto the sweeping bay outside - dolphins sometimes come by St Ives when the sea is warm enough and this is one place from where to spot them on those magic days. I liked the Porthminster attention to details too, such as when using childrens beach buckets for wine coolers to create the right mood...Wonderful place, if not the cheapest in town. Despite the relatively high prices, there is no snobbishness amongst guests. People are dressed up but not to the extreme - more summery casual - and children are more than welcome as long as they behave OK, and they can of course do a lot in this kind of environment whilst waiting for their food so most are very content. The homepage below sets the tone and tells you what it's all about, including sustainability in general, their own kitchen vegetable patch and relaxation. Visit it, see the film, and long for summer holidays!
Favorite Dish: The first time around, we settled for fish & chips downstairs. This was perfectly OK but when it comes to this classical dish I am a traditionalist, whereas this restaurant does it more upmarket and serves it with tartar sauce and fancy stuff :))) Still, we had a nice experience even though you are exposed to the constant problem of al fresco dining in St Ives: seagulls.
When we finally tried the upstairs restaurant, we had one of the most memorable dinners ever. As a starter, I had those scallops and they were the best I have had, served on a smooth red pepper sauce and with other unusual but simple details which did their best to let the scallops play the main part. My main course was a Japanese inspired mix of local fish prepared in various ways and everything was cooked to perfection - here you could see the fine dining ambitions of the place, but also the fresh ingredients which makes prices higher than average at Porthminster. Hubby had a pork stirfry kind of thing for starter and then a Cornish steak with Cornish blue cheese which was superb, save a big bone which should probably not have been there but he was so happy with the evening he didn't even complain about that which just goes to show how good everything else was. Our daughter had a melt-in-your-mouth duck which was the best duck I have ever tried too. The wine list did not go on forever but was very extensive still, and split in different sections depending on if you were eating or not and so on, and with very personal descriptions of the wines. Being England, the beers and ciders on offer are above average too with delicacies such as Cornish Orchard cider.
The Lifeboat Inn is a very lively, and in high seasons touristy, pub along the harbour and perhaps not the cozy style pub you're looking for but instead the sort where families head for lunch, sometimes with young children, and without any snug or similar. What it lacks in these respects it makes up for in others though, for this is for a start a pub which serves St Austell beers which in my opinion are some of Britain's best. Full stop. It also has friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere and, contrary to The Sloop, there is almost always a free table to be found somewhere no matter when you pop in. In high season, it is perhaps a bit loud at lunch with all the kids, but I'm a mother myself and a mother who likes a pint with Sunday dinner despite being just that. Sadly, during our 2010 visit to St Ives, a family let their two-year-old sit in the pub in nothing but a nappy and that's when I thought it had gone too far - especially since it was nowhere near lunchtime anymore but mid evening and they never told the child off for her loud shrieks! Even the staff thought it too much and refused to serve the mother unless she dressed the child, but in the end her other relatives ordered food and they still managed to stay for what became a very loud dinner for the rest of us and made us hesitant about visiting the pub again when young children are there, and we tended to rather fight for a table in The Sloop.
There is a great view of the harbour from the main room though, and under normal circumstances we love a pint here whilst our daughter can walk the low tide sands in the harbour outside and still be in our sight but not bored stiff by sitting still with us. It would have been even more perfect if, like The Sloop, it had a beer garden but since it's along the harbour road you have to live with staying inside. Food is served for most of the day and there are sometimes music gigs and quiz nights. You have to stand some pop music in the background but it doesn't blank out every conversation. If you are in St Ives in September, this is one of the main venues for the fringe festival when it is particularly lively and in 2010, the landlady had her wedding party here after dining at the Pedn-Olva and we were all invited to the evening gig had we wanted to.
Favorite Dish: Food here is typical easygoing pub fare of the lasagne and gammon steak style and nothing to write home about but perfectly OK and just what you expect. Nothing comes with bland and overcooked vegetables but instead with fresh salads. The St Austell beer with sea views and cheerful staff in a child friendly (i.e. not rowdy but still also welcoming) setting is what we love about this place even if this is perhaps what raises my satisfaction a bit more than normal since I'm a parent. Try a pint of Tribute or, even better, a Proper Job or HSD to see what I mean :)
The Union Inn is a friendly pub where we stopped as they announced Sunday roast and that's not often we get these days when not living in England anymore so we didn't hesitate. It is one of the more well known pubs in town since it is along Fore Street with its shops, but we had no problem finding a table in what is a warm bar with the walls covered in various photos. I guess this is because most tourists generally end up down the waterfront to have a seaview and that is of course something you don't get here but otherwise I found that not just staff was friendly but also the regular locals and we were soon chit chatting away as if it was our local too. Doom Bar and some other beer were nicely kept even if it isn't St Austell and we were happy with our dinner.
Favorite Dish: Me and the daugher had chicken roast and hubby settled for the beef and we were all happy. Portions were generous, chicken was succulent still, and it included all the trimmings we expected.
The Kingfisher became our favourite chippie in this harbour town since it comes with harbour views as well as good fish (and various other stuff along those lines). Since the actual seating area is upstairs (no lift) you have great harbour views if you manage to get a window table. Getting a table can take a few minutes here and involve waiting in the doorway since it's a popular place and the waitresses do not appreciate you lingering after your meal, which is perfectly understandable when you see the crowds. In no way are they rude though since this is family business, but you can just see it on their slightly too open glances at your table when you're done. In winter it is only open for lunch whilst in summer it is open well into the evening. This is a classical place as far as interior goes and you get just what you expect here - cod, haddock, mushy peas, pots and pots of tea...Glorious.
Favorite Dish: Fish & chips is just never wrong. I prefer cod but will take less endangered species today to feel better. Kids can get smaller portions.
The Sloop is probably the most famous pub in St Ives and features in numerous novels and other books about the town. It is said to be one of Cornwall's oldest pubs and I can believe that looking at the building with its stone flagged floor and wooden beams. If you approach it from the main entrance in the harbour, you see a first small bar with benches along the walls which is where local artists and fishermen often gather (how they can stand the tourists taking their seats in high season God only knows...). Further in you find a lounge and a cellar bar which are more appropriate if you want a meal. Summertime you can sit in the harbour yard and enjoy some of the best views in St Ives - if you are lucky enough to get a seat which in fact can be tricky enough inside by then! Lunch is 12-15 and dinner 17-22 and you can in fact also book one of the B&B rooms here if you fancy staying. Food is grill, pasta and some local dishes and because you're in the harbour, they are open for breakfast too which is unusual for pubs.
Favorite Dish: The fact is that we never stayed long since we never got any seats and moreover, the beer here was not our favourite local from St Austell so we tended to end up in the less spectacular pubs serving that. It is a veeeeery cozy place though.
The Seafood Café is located on one of the main (very narrow) streets in St Ives, a block back from the harbour. We had dinner there one evening on the recommendation of our hotel. As it was a Saturday night we booked a week or so in advance.
The restaurant has a fairly relaxed feel to it, helped by the fact that you go up to the fish counter to order your meal - basically there is a display cabinet of today's fresh fish, and you choose what type you would like, tell them how you want it cooked, it you want any sauce or crust, and then choose potatoes and other side dishes. They also have meat for the non-fish eaters. There is a blackboard menu with a range of starters too.
Favorite Dish: We started with a serve of Crispy Chilli Squid, which was served with lime aioli. Next we had the Halibut Steak, with some sort of crust, and some rocket mash; and the Lemon Sole with parmesan mash. The fresh fish was cooked just right.
For dessert we shared the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was a leaning-tower-like pudding, with a big pot of butterscotch sauce and clotted cream. I'm very glad we were sharing it as it was very rich.
'Everyone' said that a meal at the Porthminster Cafe was a must when in St Ives, so a table was booked a couple of weeks in advance and a table with the best view was requested, which they could confirm if we dined at 6pm. No problem, I go to bed early these days anyway.
On arrival, we were greeted warmly and led to a small table by the window, looking straight out onto the beach and ocean. We really enjoyed the view during our meal and even spotted a couple of seals just offshore.
Favorite Dish: Alex started with the Cornish Scallops, with cauliflower puree, Cornish bacon, spiced nuts and warm grape & truffle jelly. The dish was beautifully cooked and presented. For main course he had the Porthminster Monkfish Curry, with scallops, prawns, mussels, coconut, tamarind, turmeric, and jasmine rice; and I had the Pan Roasted on the bone Lemon Sole, with local rock samphire, vanilla pomme puree, crab, lemon, and spring vegetables. Both meals were most enjoyable, with fresh, perfectly cooked seafood and lovely flavours - apart from the 'vanilla pomme puree' which was too sweet for my liking.
For dessert, Alex had the intriguing sounding Caramel Bananas, with cinnamon meringues, pistachio ice cream, cinder toffee and Cornish wildflower honey. It not only looked fantastic, but tasted excellent too and made it to Alex's Top 10 desserts of all time list. My dessert was equally delish - the only thing I fancied on the menu was a Double Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream that accompanied one of the desserts, and after asking politely I was presented with a big bowl full of this decadent treat.
We had a really memorable evening at this relaxed restaurant - enjoyable food, friendly service and lovely views. Would certainly return if I am back in St Ives one day.