Test Drives

marinersThe mariners in Rock. In the sunshine, you'll really want one of those terrace tables which overlook the estuary

What can you tell us about Paul Ainsworth?

You may well have heard (or watched on TV) about Rick Stein having made his home in Padstow, but there's also another force to be reckoned with in that Cornish seaside town. Having previously worked in London (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Petrus and Marcus) Paul Ainsworth set up "Cornwall - Number 6" in Padstow, eventually renaming it to No 6, his main restaurant in the town.

As that went from strength to strength (gongs include recently winning Best Chef at the Caterer awards), he added Rojano's in the Square, and now he's expanded across the estuary with The Mariners in Rock. He's also opened a cookery school called Mahé. You can read more on our visit to Mahé here.

So The Mariners isn't in Padstow?

It isn't - it's actually across the estury in Rock, but we think you'll want to make Padstow your base.

If we're all-in on the Paul Ainsworth experience, where should we stay?

We'd recently written about his boutique hotel in town, the Padstow Townhouse, as part of our foodie places to stay in the UK. And since writing about that, we've really wanted to stay there. So when the chance came up, we jumped at it. The Townhouse itself is about a five-minute walk from No. 6 itself.

Inside there are six suites, most with a separate room for the lounge. Each room has a completely different design theme, but each share some extra mod cons, like a smart TV, digital radio and more.

room2And here's the room. Some of these have separate lounges but we very much liked our all-in-one affair.

There's no restaurant as part of the Townhouse?

There isn't but, you really won't be going hungry or thirsty. There's both a communal kitchen filled with goodies as well as one of the most impressively stocked mini-bars we've ever encountered.

Here's an overview of what you'll have access to, if you get peckish or thirsty.

food collageFirst off, there's the kitchen. There you'll find freshly made cakes, and one hell of an honesty bar. As well as wine in an enomatic machine if you fancy a glass, there's an impressive selection of spirits, accompanied by all the mixers you'll need in the fridge. And on top of that, you''ll discover quite the supply of Ruinart Champagne.

Inside your own mini-bar (top left)- there's even more of the Ruinart Champagne (cue discussion on whether that's a soft or hard "t" at the end) plus lots of local snacks too, including their own chocolate. You'll find it hard to resist all this, even if you have eaten yourselves around Padstow.

pastiesPlus we had freshly made hot Cornish pasties waiting for us when we arrived.

bathOh, and if you have a bath in your room, this comes with a handy little tray for your Champagne. Try and resist opening a bottle now.

Once settled, it's off to Rock for the Mariners?

There are plenty of places to try in Padstow - and we can see the Townhouse being an ideal base from which to explore the nearby area. But we also think that a trip across the estuary to Rock should be high on your list.

There's a ferry leaving about every 15 minutes that makes the five minute trip across to Rock much faster than the 40 minute trip by car. The boat only seats about 12 though - so bear that in mind for your timing. And if you head over to the Mariners early, you can always grab a drink in the bar downstairs. Once you disembark, it's a five minute walk to the restaurant.

And what can you tell us about The Mariners?

The latest Paul Ainsworth opening takes over from where Nathan Outlaw used to be (retaining the name), but the building has had a major overhaul before re-opening as The Mariners. Downstairs is where the bar is at, a place for a pre or post-dinner drink, before heading upstairs.

What kind of food can we expect?

It's a bistro affair at The Mariners. There's a focus on seafood, which is natural given the location. They take pride in their oysters, which are from oyster farms that you can see from The Mariners, just a few hundred yards away. So yes, they are very fresh.

If seafood isn't your thing, there's still plenty to choose from on the menu, including their own pork pies, sausages from Philip Warren butchers (juat a few miles down the road in Launceston), a slow-cooked shortrib and even their own curry. So there's plenty to choose from. We roamed around as much of the menu as we could, and here's a selection of that.

oystersThe VERY local oysters -  listed on the menu under the title "500 Yards That Way". This is the oyster platter - 3 raw, 3 Rockefeller and 3 crispy (£30.00 - albeit with a few extras in there)rarebitCornish rarebit on toast (£4.00)

calamari½ Pint of crisp king prawns, lemon & lime

chickenFried buttermilk chicken, garam masala, chipotle mayonnaise (£6)

fishchipsFish & chips, Cornish haddock, triple cooked Yukon Gold chips The Mariners condiments (£16)

pieCornish cottage pie, slow-cooked oxtail & seaweed ragu, crisp Porthilly oyster, salsa verde (£18) - just one more of those really-near oysters. 

How about dessert?

Absolutely make sure you leave room for dessert - we immediately thought the dessert (called "and Custard" on the menu) list was very, very tempting. So leave room for something here - this is what we managed to try:

puddingGolden syrup steamed brown butter pudding, slow-cooked lemon (£6.50). Just glorious. 

trifle‘The Mariners trifle’ hundreds & thousands (£8) - which comes with popping candy, so that's a win. 

And drinks?

A varied wine list kicks off at £19.95 a bottle, with a varied grape choice throughout (including English wines from Camel Valley). Most of the wines are under £35 (although you can splash out more if you want). There's a good selection of beers from Sharps Brewery (a partner in the pub) which is only up the road (if you've ever had Doom Bar, the name of that beer refers to a section of the estuary here).

And once done, back to the Townhouse to raid the kitchen/mini-bar?

It's definitely a tempting proposition and yes, we may have tried out the enomatic machine again - but there was a lovely touch from the Townhouse.

chocolateReturning to the room, this was awaiting us. It's hot chocolate and Cointreau - with a few macarons thrown in for good measure. Yes this IS the perfect nightcap.

Overall

This was actually our first time trying one of Paul Ainsworth's restaurants (and indeed a first trip to Padstow) and the double of the Townhouse and The Mariners was a perfect combination. We can really see why both have been getting praise, and it's a great introduction to the area. We've still to try No. Six - but we have taken their new cookery class and you can hear more of that over here.

 

More about The Mariners and Padstow Townhouse

Where is it? Rock, Wadebridge PL27 6LD (The Mariners) and 16-18 High St, Padstow PL28 8BB (Padstow Townhouse)

How much to stay in the Townhouse? Rooms from £280 per room per night, based on two people sharing, including breakfast and VAT. 

Find out more: Visit the websites for The Mariners and Padstow Townhouse.

Book Padstow Townhouse

 

 

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