Lee Trewhela dines out at Falmouth's Greenbank Hotel
THE DINING industry in Cornwall is at such a level now you're largely guaranteed the sort of experience the lifestyle sections of national newspapers are lapping up in their spurious Top 20 listings.
Cornwall is Shoreditch-by-the-sea, after all.
However, it's very rare to experience something entirely new; an innovative taste sensation; food that turns your palate into a virgin once again.
It happened to me at Falmouth's Greenbank Hotel recently.
As a result, it's easy to see why head chef, Kiwi and honorary Cornishwoman Fiona Were and her team have been awarded two AA rosettes for the quality of food, service and ethos.
The restaurant gained the accolade for service and support of local producers, as well as its ethical and sustainable stance.
Fiona, who describes her food as modern international cuisine fusing style, techniques and flavours, said: "It feels like a great achievement to be recognised for the hard work the team do consistently every day.
"This is an award the team wanted, but it was not our sole focus. Our aim is to make sure that what we put on the plate every day pleases our customers.
"We use tremendous ingredients that have provenance and seasonality, have great suppliers locally and use interesting flavours.
"These elements combined allow us to showcase the fantastic Cornish produce that is on our doorstep." Fiona and her team use a number of local suppliers including Matthew Stevens and Son, Primrose Herd, Roddas, Hendy Fruit and Veg, Cornish Duck, B&N Farm Foods, Kernow Sausage Company, Kernow Sashimi and Hanson Fine Foods.
As well as securing the AA rosettes the hotel increased its overall AA Four-Star rating.
The meal I enjoyed recently – with the added bonus of that view across Falmouth harbour on a balmy night – was largely a great big Top Of The Pops-ending No 1 hit ... though there was a No 34 miss too.
I have to get to that mindblowing dish first – I was exclaiming so loudly, The Nurse told me to shut up.
Desserts here are labelled for their main constituent and make for the most slavering, inventive read on the menu – Lemon, for instance, features lemon and polenta torte, lemon mascarpone, raspberries, crystallised watermint and geranium sorbet.
I went for peaches (and not for the first time ...) – roast peaches, gingerbread, white chocolate, astina cress (its aniseed taste working well in desserts), hokey pokey and wild garlic yarg ice cream.
Just read that last item again. Wild garlic, Cornwall's yarg cheese, together, in an ice cream. Ludicrous.
Except it wasn't, it was heavenly. The subtle flavours and texture worked perfectly alongside the sweetness of the fruit, gingerbread and toffee. I honestly didn't want it to end and have never tasted anything like it before.
Yes, the puds are pricey at £7.75, but they're worth it.
My run-up to this delicious denouement consisted of an equally subtle starter. I'm not a fan of tempura as a rule – I've been to too many places where the batter has been thick, greasy and overpowers what's inside.
This was different – delicate and allowing for the monkfish and stunning Porthilly Rock oysters to sing, alongside the tart Japanese ponzu dip and pickled vegetables (£8.95).
The main course was where it dipped somewhat, purely because my lamb rump wasn't cooked. It wasn't just pink (the way all self-respecting lamb should be served), it was almost bleating.
A great shame, but it was still good (though could have been outstanding), served with African ras el hanout spices, white onion puree, the perfect lamb accompaniment of figs, rainbow chard greens, pomegranate molasses and pea shoots.
As you can see there's a lot of deliberation about taste and flavour in these dishes and, forgiving the one slip, this was an unforgettable meal.
Someone get me another bowl of garlic and cheese ice cream ....
An average three-course meal for two will cost about £68 without alcohol.
For more information please contact The Greenbank Hotel on 01326 312440 or visit www.greenbank-hotel.co.uk