Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oysters Ahoy @ Rick Stein's The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

You might have noticed a recent explosion of blog posts with a Cornish theme - that's because I was a very, very lucky girl this past weekend.  John planned a surprise trip away to Cornwall which I had no idea about and managed to make reservations for Sunday lunch at Rick Stein's ever popular The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, directly overlooking the harbor. Extra triple double brownie points for him.  Zilch for me, as I just sat back and enjoyed.  Oops.

We drove to Padstow, which is about an hour away from Looe, where we were staying, shortly after breakfast on Sunday with the intent of exploring the town and doing some pre-lunch shopping, before changing in the car (yes, it brought back some fond memories of me changing in the backseat of the car after school on my way to ballet lessons with my mom yelling, "Don't do it yet, there's a huge semi coming up behind us!" as she simulataneously tried to merge onto the freeway.  Good times, good times) into our smarter, Sunday lunch outfits (I always believe it's better to be over- than under-dressed, but of course, we showed up and people were rocking in with hiking gear and jeans on.  Sigh.  Some people never learn and I poohed poohed their ignorance).

I stuck to the set lunch menu (currently priced at £35 per person) while John ordered off the a la carte, and began with grilled oysters.  Now, mind you, I've finally learned that oysters and I are not friends.  We never will be.  I should just try and accept this rather than giving our relationship repeated second chances.  Basically, the options on the menu were: smoked salmon (which I love), risotto (which I love), something else that I loved, and oysters.  I thought, 'I'm here at Rick Stein's restaurant, surrounded by fresh seafood - I should really go for the oysters rather than my same old boring standbys.'  Mistake.  While delicious and beautifully presented (the rock sea salt underneath each shell was a fantastic touch), the oysters were still pretty raw for my liking and I bravely polished off four (and a half) before graciously offering my remaining one to John, who was quite happy with his Ragout of Brill and Scallops (or perhaps he had the Turbot - I can't quite remember).  I turned my head just in time to glimpse a girl at the next table wincing slightly as she tried one of her boyfriend's oysters.  Glad I wasn't the only one.  Shame on me, though, for pretending to be cool and ordering them in the first place.

Nevermind, moving on to the main course, which was the feature attraction, I ordered the Lemon Sole Fillets tossed with wild garlic, asparagus, spinach, sesame oil and soy sauce, served with a side of basmati rice.

Winner.  The coriander was a perfect accent to the dish and the light flavor of wild garlic worked really well with the sole, which was meaty and flavorful.  Interestingly enough, for his main, John ordered the Ray Wing with Bearnaise sauce, which resembled a massive steak - except, of course, in fish form.  Extremely meaty and substantial in size, he expressed his shock when finishing one side of the wing only to discover a whole other part of meat on the other, waiting to be polished off.  Needless to say, we were both very, very full.

Of course, that didn't stop me from ordering the Bakewell Tart (one of my favorite English desserts) with a Chantilly cream.  While I wish the cream was actually a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream, the tart was extremely enjoyable and light, not surprising as Stein also has a patisserie literally around the corner from the restaurant (Padstow is nicknamed "Pad-Stein" for a reason).

Happy, full, fueled with both wine and espresso, we left the cool and tranquil settings of the restaurant (which was now beginning to really fill up) and headed out into town again - by now, the weather had transformed itself from rain and wind to sun and wind instead - perfect for an afternoon bike ride.  Which is exactly what we did.

Spoiled doesn't begin to describe it all.  Thank you, JK.

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