We Visit

Where to eat in Falmouth

The town has a proud maritime history going back centuries and some fabulous beaches but, as Mark Taylor discovers, it’s also putting the port on the culinary map with a growing reputation as a food and drink destination

Some Cornish resorts become ghost towns in the long, rainy winters when the tourists have gone. But the success of Falmouth’s university has meant the 5,000 or so students in the area make up almost a quarter of the town’s population and have helped to drive Falmouth’s burgeoning food and drink scene in recent years.

A town with a long seafaring history, the port of Falmouth – the biggest in Cornwall – has provided shelter for Atlantic-crossing ships for centuries. It has the third deepest natural harbour in the world, with naval ships, luxury yachts and cruise liners all regular visitors for fuel or repairs. Streets of Regency townhouses and Victorian villas are a reminder that Falmouth once housed wealthy naval officers and merchants. These days, it boasts a thriving food and arts scene, as well as one of the most bustling high streets in the country, where Cornish clothing brands such as Finisterre and Seasalt sit happily alongside modern coffee shops, independent restaurants and characterful pubs.

Oliver's, credit: David Griffen


One of the best examples of this harmonious mix of old and new is Beerwolf Books – a pub within a bookshop up a side alley off the main shopping street. A high-ceilinged former maritime store loft, this was once the Falmouth Working Men’s Club, but now the space is split between a well-stocked bookshop and a bar serving up to seven draught beers from microbreweries such as Penzance Brewing Co and Driftwood Spars. Next door in Bells Court is the Courtyard Deli & Kitchen run by chef Chris and his wife Sarah Biggers. Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, it sells Cornish cheeses and charcuterie, homemade savoury pies and tarts as well as a range of delicious cakes.  

Also just off the long and winding shopping street running parallel with the harbour is The Seafood Bar run by the town’s Verdant Brewing Co. The brewery’s own beers dominate the drinks list – try the citrussy single-hop pale ale Safety Flares with spider crab risotto and samphire or pan-fried scallops with cauliflower and curried butter. Falmouth has seafood in abundance, and nowhere more so than at Rick Stein’s Fish on Discovery Quay. A typical meal could kick off with salt and pepper prawns and move on to Indonesian seafood curry or salmon fishcakes, sorrel, watercress and caper and lemon dressing.

Oliver’s, at the quirkier end of the High Street, has kept its place in The Good Food Guide for much of the past decade. Owner-chef Ken Symonds looks to the day’s catch for menu inspiration, whether it’s local mussels in kaffir lime, coconut milk, chilli, ginger and coriander or sea trout, clams, bacon, turnip and rainbow chard.

For harbour views there’s The Star & Garter, a Victorian maritime pub which looks across to pretty Flushing Quay. It was given a new lease of life in recent years by a team of ambitious young chefs who use fish from local day boats and meat, which they smoke and cure on the premises. If you can resist the fish of the day with brown shrimps, cucumber, fennel and Cornish potatoes, there’s smoked moorland beef sirloin and bone marrow. Across the road from The Star & Garter, in a cobbled brewery yard, The Chintz bar is in a former dental surgery. With its Alice In Wonderland-inspired decor, it’s a unique setting to enjoy carefully sourced wines, beers and Cornish ciders with charcuterie and cheese.

Another after-dark drinking venue worth a detour is The Moth and The Moon, a dimly lit speakeasy-style cocktail bar in a converted pub on Killigrew Street. With its dark green walls, slate floors and tin plate ceiling above a green-tiled bar, it’s all very secretive and low-key, but the cocktails are of the highest quality. Signature drinks include The Harbour Master, a blend of spiced rum, cloudy apple juice, ginger syrup, aromatic bitters, lime, ginger beer and black walnut bitters. It’s described as a ‘Dark & Stormy on steroids’. The Moth And The Moon is just up from the ennycomequick, an 18th-century inn serving a fine pint of St Austell beer and a seasonal menu including Cornish fish stew and day boat fish specials.

If you need a caffeine fix after a morning walk along the harbour, Beacon Coffee on High Street is a Scandi-style coffee shop using only the best roasters, including Cornwall’s own Yallah and Origin. The coffee is exceptional, the vibe is cool and its arrival in Falmouth is further proof of the town’s food and drink revolution.

 

Published October 2019