Dan and I have made a bit of an unspoken pact to tick off two Michelin star spots each year. We have already visited Il Ridotto (one star) in Venice back in March and next on our list was Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac. We got a voucher for a meal here between us from Dan’s parents, so this meal has been very long awaited and it gave us an excuse to try the delights of this renowned Cornish chef whilst we were on our holiday in Cornwall.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is in Port Isaac, Cornwall, around a twenty-minute drive from Rock and Polzeath. It sits at the top of the sleepy fishing town, overlooking the breathtaking Cornish coastline. Purely serving a seafood tasting menu, Outlaw has created somewhere that showcases local fish in all its glory. It has two Michelin stars and is also listed at number one in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2019.
I guess you could say that Nathan Outlaw is part of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Cornish chefs: Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Outlaw have all got incredibly successful restaurants in Cornwall and are equally well known in the foodie world. Nathan Outlaw formerly worked with Rick Stein and has also featured on Great British Menu creating signature fish dishes. If one thing is clear, he is incredibly passionate about fish. He also owns the Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac which also has a Michelin star.
The interior is modern and relaxed, and by no means over the top. Downstairs you will find the bar which seats a limited number of guests and provides a view of all the action in the kitchen! The main dining room is on the first floor with several windows framing the beautiful view of Port Isaac Bay and the coastline. We visited on a cool, clear evening at a high tide providing a spectacular backdrop. As far as settings go, this is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever dined.
Once we were seated, we ordered our drinks. Dan had an Atlantic pale ale brewed by local Cornish brewers, Sharp’s (£6) and I chose a strawberry bellini (£12) which was so delicious! To accompany the meal, we decided on white wine – a Chablis from France which was light, crisp and slightly citrus. We usually go for red wine, but generally speaking white pairs better with fish so this made for a good option to suit each course. You can also opt for the wine pairing with the menu (£75 per person) which I am sure would be absolutely incredible.
Every level of detail is thought through at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, from the weighty Robert Welch cutlery to the ‘RNO’ engraved side plates. For me, it is these small details that always make a fine dining experience so special.
We were firstly served a selection of small plates to share which was an indication of what deliciousness was to come! The first was raw Cornish scallops served with a cucumber and chilli sauce topped with radish. This was my favourite dish of the three; the scallops were soft and tender like butter and the cucumber and chilli combination was incredible! Cooling yet with a kick. The second plate was choux pastry buns filled with mackerel paté. The pastry was crisp yet light and there was no scrimping on the filling. It was rich and by no means fishy at all. The third and final plate was salt and pepper filo pastry tartlets filled with cod Baccalà topped with pickled red onion. This was also another highlight and took me back to Venice – Baccalà is a pureed cod mixed with olive oil until it is smooth. The pastry was so crisp and contrasted so beautifully with the creamy fish and sour onion.
Throughout our meal, we were brought the most glorious focaccia style bread made with Cornish sea salt and rosemary. It was served with a seaweed butter which looked as good as it tasted – it had a very subtle flavour of seaweed, lifting the flavours of the bread perfectly.
The tasting menu is a little different to ones we have had before – usually, it’s about six or seven courses and no choice as to what you eat, but this menu consisted of four courses (plus the snacks) and you could choose one of the main courses and your dessert. The cost per head is £140.
The first course was a Port Isaac Lobster Salad. The meaty, tender lobster was accompanied by crisp gem lettuce with a zesty lemon and garlic sauce which really packed a punch. There were also some slices of potato in the salad which added such a nice base and extra texture. Nothing spectacular was done to the lobster, it was just wonderfully cooked and surrounded by complimentary flavours.
The next course was a choice of two fish: Red mullet or bass. The logical thing to do is, of course, have one of each! Dan chose the red mullet which was served with Kohlrabi (a type of turnip) and basil mayonnaise. The fish was packed with flavour and had a crispy skin, adding such a nice texture. The Kohlrabi was slightly sharp yet soft, with the basil mayonnaise adding an injection of freshness. How gorgeous does it look on the plate too?
I chose the bass which was probably the slightly heavier option. The bass was served on top of fennel, broad beans and swimming in a spider crab sauce. Oh. My Goodness. What a dish. The fennel was beautifully cooked and instead of being sharp and spicy, was soft and citrusy. The spider crab sauce was rich but the broad beans and seasoning kept this dish tasting so fresh. Yet again, both fishes were simply cooked and accompanied by the most beautiful accompanying flavours. If you are looking for a celebration of seafood, this is it.
The next course was Turbot which was served with smoked hollandaise, cauliflower and hazelnut butter. A pot of potato croquettes also came with the dish. Turbot is quite a meaty fish so this dish naturally was q bit heavier as it was also the main event. The smoked hollandaise was incredible – what a powerful flavour! The hazelnut butter almost reminded me of Nutella but definitely worked well with the fish. The croquettes were soft and crisp – even the roasted cauliflower was perfectly executed. As my previous course was quite rich, this almost defeated me but I persevered and on reflection, it was definitely one of the stand out courses – it was Dan’s favourite!
We had a choice between the desserts too which both featured some classic British fruits: Strawberry or gooseberry! Dan chose the elderflower custard which was made in a similar way to Italian meringue, so it was almost solid. It was fresh and light with poached gooseberries and gooseberry sorbet cutting through the sweetness. Doesn’t it look amazing? Almost like a ladies day hat!
I had the strawberry ice cream sandwich which was a total celebration of strawberries. Sweet ice cream encased by a crisp sugar biscuit and topped with fresh strawberries and a strawberry champagne sorbet. Wow. So sweet and delicate yet packing a real punch: The ice cream sandwich had strawberry sorbet in the middle as well which was absolutely delicious. What a way to finish the meal!
All that was left to do after our meal was finish our wine and then walk along the cliffs to watch the sunset over Port Isaac bay. What a wonderful way to end such a memorable meal.
On a note sperate to food, I really respect that Nathan Outlaw actively supports local charities. The RNLI, National Lobster Hatchery, Fishermen’s Mission and Surfers Against Sewage all receive a portion of the 12.5% service charge and have a direct impact on the local Cornish communities, helping to create a better environment and more sustainable fishing practices.
If you are looking for a stunning place to dine in Cornwall, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is definitely up there with the best. Yes, it is pricey but for the experience and quality of food, it is so worth it. If seafood isn’t your thing, then it won’t be for you but if it is, Outlaw has created a menu which truly celebrates Cornish fish with beautiful ingredients. A must-visit for foodies in the area and a well deserving of a five lemon rating, two Michelin stars and first place in the Good Food Guide.
To view sample menus and book a table, visit: nathan-outlaw.com.
Have you ever been to Restaurant Nathan Outlaw? What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Things to do near Restaurant Nathan Outlaw:
- Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac – Outlaw’s other restaurant which also has a Michelin star.
- Port Isaac – Sleepy fishing village where Doc Martin was filmed.
- Rock – A small town twenty-minute drive from Port Isaac home to Paul Ainsworth’s, The Mariners and Porthilly Cove which is a lovely little beach!
- Padstow – You can get the foot ferry across to Padstow from Rock.
- Polzeath beach.
DISCLAIMER: This meal was part paid for with a gift voucher we got for Christmas and we paid for the rest. As always my opinions are completely honest.