A week ago I spent two days visiting friends in Cornwall. This was my first visit to Cornwall and I immediately understood why it is a popular destination for the British who are looking for a nice holiday without leaving the country. I had to take the train, which took three hours from Exeter to Penzance, but it was a beautiful and scenic ride.
From Penzance, I then took the bus to Porthleven, which weaved through several other small villages along the coast. I sat on the top level of the bus and had a great view as it drove through Marazion (with views of St. Michael’s Mount) and other small villages that were clearly never designed to have large buses passing through them.
Neil met me at the bus stop in Porthleven and we went straight to the Harbor Inn for a drink before he showed me around town. We walked around the historic harbor and then a little ways up the coastal path. I had just finished the first season of Poldark a few days before my trip to Cornwall, so everything I was seeing reminded me of the show. It’s hard to see in any of the photos I took, but there were several old tin mines off in the distance along the coastline. I could easily envision Ross and Demelza showing up around the corner on the coastal walk.
The weather was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t too hot, but it was comfortable in the sun and afforded us some amazing views down the coastline. Cornwall has been on my need-to-visit list for quite a while. At some point in my teens I learned about the Minack Theatre and have wanted to visit Cornwall ever since. This particular trip was short, but I will be coming back to Cornwall for several days with my mom, sister and Michael in June. I know they’re going to love it.
After our short walk along the coast, we headed back to Neil’s place to wait for Derek, who was joining us for dinner. They had visited me in Glastonbury a few weeks earlier and told me about all the good food Porthleven has to offer, so I was looking forward to sampling some of it. Once Derek got home from work we headed back into town, had another drink at the pub and then walked out to the end of the “cob” of the harbor and got some great photos of the sunset.
Once the sun set it quickly got quite chilly. We headed over to The Square, where Neil had made a reservation for us. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while! We stuck with local seafood dishes and it was delicious. We shared some of their fresh bread with olives, hummus and olive oil as we waited for our starters. I had the Porthleven crab starter served with toasted fennel bread, blistered tomatoes and a fresh pesto. The crab salad was fresh and sweet and light. It was a delight to eat. All three of us had the same main: hake filet, served over sauteed greens, with anchovies, capers, peas, pea shoots and lemon. It was everything I love on a single plate. Briny and salty flavors are my weakness, so this dish was perfect to me.
I had the creme brulee with rhubarb compote for dessert to round out a perfect meal. I wouldn’t change a single thing about anything I ate and I can’t wait to go back to this restaurant with my family in June. If you are visiting Porthleven, or any of the neighboring villages, like more touristy Marazion, it’s worth the drive to eat here. After dinner we walked back up to Neil’s place, which is right next door to Derek’s, and turned in for the evening.
As it turned out, I had chosen the same weekend as the Porthleven Food Festival to visit. When I arrived on Friday, they were still setting everything up, but it was in full swing on Saturday. So the next morning I had breakfast with Derek, since Neil is not much of an early riser, and walked to the eastern edge of town along the coast, before meeting up with Neil over coffees at the harbor. People were starting to stream into the small harbor village for the food festival and we spent the rest of the day exploring the festival.
There were lots of different food vendors, as well as live music performances happening on both sides of the harbor. I bought some lunch since I knew I wouldn’t eat again until I got back to Exeter later that day. I had garlic sauteed mushrooms over rice (almost like a stroganoff) with garlic bread. The weather on day two was cloudier and overcast, but the atmosphere was still nice. Around 3pm they drove me back to the Penzance train station where I caught the train back to Exeter.
Overall, I had a wonderful first visit to Cornwall and I can’t wait to go back and explore what else it has to offer!