As we left St. Ives and headed west towards Zennor, the sun emerged from behind some sulky grey clouds and bathed us in warmth and optimism. I never thought we’d ever get to visit The Gurnard’s Head, which stands out in Diana Henry’s books as being one of the best gastro pubs in the country, but also the most remote.
After wiggling along the “Top Gear testing-esque” road we stumbled across the image we’d seen in books and on websites many times before. The iconic image of The Gurard’s Head Hotel with blue sky above and brown cows in front. I can’t think of a more welcoming sight.
The pub is renowned for its top notch food and relaxed but stylish atmosphere. A collection of friendly paintings adorned the walls evoking a feeling of being in a successful friend’s living room. Groups of walkers, families young and old congregated around plain tables and basked in comfy chairs. A toddler spent the whole time re-arranging the library and doing sprint starts towards the kitchen. Cookery books were strewn around along with guides to the local area and switched on staff never missed a beat.
We shared a perfect, deep-crimson, bowl of fish soup which came with a fully leaded rouille and some crusty bread. At the last moment they grate some orange zest on top to give it an extra lift. This put the fish soup from The Anchor at Walberswick to shame and is a contender for “best fish soup EVER” in the words of Comic Book man from The Simpsons.
A fillet of grey mullet, served with aioli and squished new potatoes and bursting tomatoes was divine. The delicate skin was crisp, but not burnt. The supernova-white, flesh teased apart and wasn’t muddy. Spot on.
Cowie’s sea bass with samphire, new potatoes and salsa verde was equally as good. There was nothing pretentious or flash about either dish. But neither could have been bettered.
This was without question our best lunch of our trip - and quite possibly my favourite since the Paunch began. It was so good, we are going to find their sister pub in Wales, called The Felin Fach Griffin Inn, which AA Gill once described as “Exceptional anywhere in Europe - in Wales, it was as damn near miraculous as the Angel of Mons".
We wish we could have stayed all day, and then tucked into supper. But alas, we had to move on. But isn’t it great when you leave somewhere wanting more?
This is part of a series of posts about our foodie odyssey around the South West.
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