A warm welcome, sweet staff and savoury delights at the Lighthouse Bistro in St Ives
ST IVES is awash with buzzy, busy and lively restaurants along the seafront and around the town centre, but if you're looking for a little intimacy and the chance to hear yourself think, you need to look in some of its hidden corners.
Some of the best dining in this most food-focused of Cornish towns (with a nod to PadStein) is to be found in its hidden hotels – venues that are often not even visible to the casual observer.
One such is the Chy an Albany, originally three Edwardian houses built for local sea captains working for the town's famous Hain Shipping Company, and now a small hotel with big ideas about food. The hotel boasts the well-stocked Hains Bar, but it is in the Lighthouse Bistro where the real magic takes place.
It's a warm space, subtly lit and decorated, and the walls are adorned with some of the best local art – and it also has a stunning view over St Ives Bay and Godrevy Lighthouse in the summer.
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And the food is a genuine treat.
Head chef Carl Simpson uses fresh seasonal ingredients sourced locally and the staff – to a man and woman – want to make sure you get the most out of it.
After debating red or white wine we chose pink in the form of Willowood White Californian Zinfandel Blush. But it was the only compromise of the night.
The scallops were perfectly cooked and flavoured – although they had to fight not to be overwhelmed by the strength of the chorizo they were served on, this is still a delightful dish.
A pigeon and smoky bacon starter was even better – a delicious and flattering flavour combination. The mains showed an equal attention to detail, flavour and quality and also, despite the high quality of the food, a commitment to decent portion sizes.
The venison was served with a red currant jus and Dauphinoise potatoes and was excellent with an added order of fresh local leaves that added to the mix of smells as well as tastes.
And the cod was pleasingly unadulterated. A delicious, healthy portion pan-fried and skin-crisped.
Your reviewer was actually too full for a third course, but the Lighthouse prides itself on its puddings in the same way it does its welcome and service – and if the desserts are half as warm and sweet as the staff they'll be pretty hard to beat.
Head chef Carl Simpson uses fresh seasonal ingredients sourced locally.