Cornwall’s best restaurant? UrlaubCornwall meets Nathan Outlaw in his 2 Michelin Star seafood restaurant in Rock near Padstow on Cornwall’s North Coast.
In his 2 Michelin star fish and seafood restaurant at the stylish St Enodoc Hotel in Rock Nathan Outlaw has built a reputation as probably the best head chef in Cornwall. In fact, he has the accolade of having the only restaurant specialising in fish and seafood with 2 stars not just in Cornwall, but in the world. Showcasing local produce in both a fine dining restaurant and his family friendly seafood bar and grill.
UrlaubCornwall: What first brought you to Cornwall?
Nathan Outlaw: I used to live London, but had enough of the city and I always had a big interest in seafood. At the time Rick Stein in Padstow had the best seafood restaurant in the country so it made sense to work at the best place and work with the best, so that’s what’s first attracted me to move here.
I had spent a lot of time down here as a kid on holiday so I think there was always something in me that wanted to return here. Life is a bit calmer down here than it is in the city.
UrlaubCornwall: So I guess you’re enjoying life in Cornwall?
Yeah, I would never move away from here now. My wife is from Padstow, all my children have been born in Cornwall and so this is home now.
UrlaubCornwall: How did you get involved with the St Enodoc Hotel?
Nathan Outlaw: I used to have a restaurant in Rock before and the owner of the hotel would come down for lunch and dinner with his family, so I got to know him. Then in 2009 he asked if I’d like to take over the restaurant here, and bring what I do into the hotel.
But instead of doing a purely fine dining restaurant, we decided to open a seafood bar and grill as well, which is a much more family style restaurant. This made sure I was able to do all the hotel stuff as well, like breakfast, afternoon tea etc.
UrlaubCornwall: Has it been successful?
Nathan Outlaw: The seafood and grill has been growing through reputation. It’s got loads on offer; the best meat and the best fish we can find locally. It’s either pan fried or cooked over the grill and then you choose the sauce and the garnish you want to have with it. So you can really create your own dish.
But the fine dining restaurant is my labour of love, it’s what I really enjoy doing. Its offers a seafood 6 course taster menu which myself and one other chef cook for only 20 people so we can make sure everyone gets the 100% best experience. And it’s going really well. Last year Michelin gave us 2 stars which was such a boost for us here. Now we are working hard to see if we can get up heights of 3 stars in the future.
UrlaubCornwall: 2 Michelin stars is already an incredible achievement.
Nathan Outlaw: Yeah that’s right, we are actually the only 2 star entirely seafood restaurant in the world.
UrlaubCornwall: Do you have favourite dish?
Nathan Outlaw: We don’t have signature dishes here. They sort of show that you are content with what you’ve already achieved. Our only signature really is that we buy everything from boats from the responsible fishing scheme which makes sure we get the best fish, sustainably. We cook in a style here, unlike anywhere else I think, where we keep everything as simply as we can to do justice to the ingredients.
UrlaubCornwall: What is you favourite ingredient then?
Nathan Outlaw: My favourite fish is mackerel. That’s the one I enjoy cooking and eating the most. And my favourite style of cooking is on the chargrill or barbeque. It allows me to get a nice crispy skin on the fish, which is really the best way to cook a lot of fish.
UrlaubCornwall: Cornwall must be a great place to get the best ingredients.
Nathan Outlaw: Absolutely. We work very hard to get the best ingredients. It’s probably the hardest thing to do, even more than the cooking. There’s plenty of great produce in Cornwall, but the search for more goes on. If you stick to the larder of the South West, you don’t need to go anywhere else.
UrlaubCornwall: There seems to be a community of great chefs in Cornwall now, why do you think that is?
Nathan Outlaw: I think it’s amongst chefs across the whole country. In my early days, I think everyone was a bit more secretive. No one would give each other recipes, tips or advice. But now we’ve taken on the style of Spain, and Scandinavia where they are a lot more open with their food. And now you can walk into the kitchen of any top chef and talk about recipes or anything. That’s being led by the generation of young chefs. It can only be a good thing. The more you share, the more you learn, and things get better for the customers.
UrlaubCornwall: So what’s the next challenge then? Is it just the 3rd Michelin star?
Nathan Outlaw: We’ve never really chased accolades. We weren’t prepared at all when we got the 2 stars. People always ask if I’m worried about losing my stars, but I think you’d go mad if you did worry.
But there’s no reason to say we can’t achieve 3 stars. The most important thing is that we enjoy the cooking, and we enjoy giving the customers the best experience. There’s nothing better than the praise of someone who’s been looking forward to their meal for ages, saving up their pennies, and then they love it.
For example we had a guy in last night, who came in for his 50th birthday, and he’ll remember it forever. He said it was the best meal he’s ever had. So when you think about things like that, that’s the most important thing.