The weekend beginning Friday 25th May was the kick-off point for my trip down to the vicinities of Penryn and Falmouth in Cornwall, in order to surprise an old friend – Aarhon Way – for his birthday, all at the connivance of our mutual friend Matt Lawson.
Cornwall as we all know is famed mainly for three things: oysters, pasties and ale. I had the intention of sampling two of those (no ale for me, thank you!)
Give or take the traffic, it takes around three hours to get from Poole to Cornwall. However, the day itself needed to get off to an early start; my chauffeur for the weekend Mr. Craig Coogan – a motor enthusiast and qualifying pilot – works for the estate agency Palmer Snell. En route to our friends in Penryn, we would be required to make a stop in the small town of Bridport (taking an hour out of the overall journey), wherein he would go off to do a complete analysis of two separate properties, and I would do the same to a local restaurant.
My establishment of choice in this instance was called The Market House, whose tagline is simply “Wine, Dine, Relax”, all three of which were utterly attractive to me – especially in the twenty-five-degree heat. Arriving around forty-five minutes before the kitchen actually opened, I took the opportunity to observe the menu and the prices.
While the interior decoration of the bar presents itself rather quaintly as a public house, the restaurant (see pictured) complements the exterior presentation as a classy wine bar. The cost of the drinks were not dissimilar to those at the hotel where I am presently employed (more ammunition against complaining customers).
Their forms of glassware are superior to ours, in all honesty. Even a small coke is served in a vessel that one can indeed compare to a Peroni glass, which in turn is shaped in a manner similar to a wine glass (see pictured).
Once I had entered and seated myself, I observed the specials for the day being written. Right at the top of the list were Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Hazelnut and Coriander Butter. Needless to say I was tempted; I had never before had scallops and had no excuse to decline them.
These days, scallops and all other forms of shellfish for that matter, seem only to be favoured by gourmets or food enthusiasts. Thusly it is very rare that a place so obviously popular with the public should serve such items.
However, small portions for starters (see pictured) as on a small platter were brought out three deeply-seared scallops, still in their comparatively massive shells. The butter that was mentioned was actually the sandy coating given to the shellfish, whereas I had perceived it to come separately as a dip.
A firm favourite of mine on the shellfish scene – the mussel – I have often found to be chewy, and with my inexperience I felt inclined to presume the same for scallops. Of course, there are no prizes for guessing I was wrong. My teeth sunk straight through them, sadly not really giving enough time to fully embrace the smoky flavours complemented by the coriander butter.
Although I appreciate scallops might not be the easiest thing to come by, as well as the dish only being the starter, I became sceptical as to the size of my choice of main course: Faggots with leeks.
Traditionally a Faggot is a meatball made from fatty and minced parts of pork, or lamb in Wales. Pork liver minced with onions is used to make the Faggots from the frozen food line Mr. Brains’.
These were far beyond Brains’ though. I remarked to the waitress my utter shock at the size of my main course when she brought it out in a dish comparable to a punch bowl (see pictured).
“That’s not mine is it!?” and subsequently asked her to join me. She thought I was joking.
Three rather large Faggots sat on a thick bed of creamy and buttery mashed potatoes, surrounded by chunky leek slices and peas. To be honest, I think there was just too much potato. Excessive starch can gather in one’s throat and cause discomfort, and I often find this when eating bread or chips as well. It also fills one to the very brim, sometimes to the point of bloatedness, which it did in this instance. To the extent in which I had to decline a dessert, it would have been a waste of time and money. Two courses and a drink for just under twenty pounds, which was in fact my budget for lunch.