I have been having holidays in Cornwall since I was a small child and there are many places I love and would visit time and time again but to stay, the only place for me is St Mawes. A really lovely village on the south coast, relatively quiet in May and a more beautiful and peaceful place you’d struggle to find. Each May, Mum and I spend a week in St Mawes catching up on our reading, drinking gin and eating as much of the ocean as we can. We counted this year that we’d consumed: crab, lobster, prawns, red mullet, mussels, hake, whitebait, haddock, cod, squid, and probably some more. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall will be furious! Half of the fun of our holiday is looking forward to the lovely treats we’ll eat and the places we’ll revisit. Our annual trips to some of our favourite restaurants, shops, beaches and towns are long planned in advance.
One of the smartest restaurants in St Mawes is the The Watch House on the corner of the harbour. Twinkly lighted and looking out over the river, this is one of my favourite spots in St Mawes. We booked for the Saturday night of our trip and then spent the day attempting not to consume batches of saffron buns and ice creams to save room for our supper.
We arrived shortly after 6.30pm and were sat at a lovely table upstairs looking out over the water. I think the upstairs is my favourite part of the restaurant, brighter, lighter and with what feels like a higher ceiling. The decor inside is brilliant white, with the odd bit of sailing kit. It’s lovely; fresh and chic. The staff are also brimming with enthusiasm and surprisingly resilient when dealing with the sniggery humour we inadvertently brought with us! It’s a long story but involves much giggling about the word ‘crabs’ – we really are children.
The wine list is extensive and Mum’s glass of sauvignon and my rose were both lovely and fresh. There’s plenty of water in jugs on the table and a delicious basket of fresh bread which we fall upon having had to forego all manner of buns and snacks!
To start with Mum had the fritto misto with sweet potato and sage leaves and a homemade aioli. The aioli packed a wonderful punch and the tempura-esque sage leaves were a revelation. The only downside being that it was a little light on fish but it was lovely and beautifully presented in an enamelware dish. I had scallops, it’s pretty much a given that if there are scallops I will have them, these were delicately seared and served with a cauliflower puree which was subtle but delicious. The scallops were the perfect texture and tasted of the sea. Heavenly, especially with the fresh peas and watercress.
For mains, Mum dithered about between lamb and fish and eventually settled on the fish pie. This came with the two mussels popping out the top like the sardines in stargazey pie, I liked this touch. The fish pie was lovely, a creamy herby sauce but extremely filling. I had the Devonshire Ruby Red steak and my word, if there was an amazing piece of steak prize this would win. I actually had a steak when we visited last year and I remembered what an amazing piece of meat it was. You can really tell that The Watch House care about where they source their ingredients from, not only are they fresh and local but of extremely high quality. The chips were some of the best ever consumed by Draycott women, and we’ve tested plenty, and the garlic/herb butter was thick and punchy.
We decided not to have a pudding but to consume more ice cream on the walk back to our cottage. It was an absolutely delicious meal and in a lovely setting with great service. The bill came to about £70, but I actually can’t entirely remember.
Definitely looking forward to next year now!