How do you squeeze in a meal when your itinerary is already jam-packed and your stomach is not able to squeeze in another full meal? Well, this was the dilemma I had in Cornwall – I had the intention of going to Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 restaurant in 2010, but there was no way to fit it into the tight schedule. This year I had to try to find a slot to visit this place between the two dinners at Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant in Rock – doing a full lunch and then a proper dinner would push my stomach (and waistline) way past its limit, but a “light” lunch in Padstow would be a good compromise.
It was a very sunny and warm day in April – almost like mid-summer. Padstow was crowded, but as it’s not the height of the summer yet, it was still manageable (well, not the parking – the carpark was overflowing).
The restaurant had a bright casual feel to it, and I loved the decor, with its large mirror in one of the rooms. It might just as well be a comfortable surrounding that I could settle into – the task of choosing the dishes from the menu was hard. There were so many dishes which sounded so interesting that the difficulty was to narrow down to a manageable number of dishes – not so simple when even there were several starters that I wanted. The waiter was so helpful that he hinted that we could have ordered in whatever way we wanted from the menu, so the decision was then made: three starters to share between me and Russell: we’d have one each and then share the third.
I chose the sweetcorn soup with thyme and crabmeat tortellini – the soup was smooth and sweet, but I found that the sweetcorn taste overpowered the fresh flavour of the crabmeat. A shame really but it was nevertheless a well-executed dish. Russell had the Terras farm duck “Scotch eggs” with smoked mustard mayonnaise – while it tasted nice, the texture was a bit too crumbly for his liking. I had a mouthful of it and I agreed.
We then decided to share the third starter: St Enodoc asparagus with Serrano ham, parmesan, quail egg and salad. It was the season for the asparagus and the combination of the various ingredients, although verging on the somewhat predictable side, was well balanced.
Our original plan was to just have a light lunch of three starters, but with the dishes being so promising, we decided to go for a dessert also. Alas, another list to select from…. Difficult choice. So to go for the easy (but very greedy) option, we went for the “Taste of no. 6” dessert plate. We were expecting about 4-5 items on the plate, but when the plate arrived, we were (pleasantly) shocked by the size and selection. It consisted of a few items that I would have liked from the menu, such as pineapple tart tatin with thyme and coconut ice-cream, hot chocolate moelleux, espresso creme brulee with fairground doughnuts, rhubarb trifle etc. So much for a “light” lunch!
On the whole, it was a very enjoyable meal and I would certainly go back next time I am in Padstow. There’s some fine-tuning to do on the dishes to take it to the level of excellence, but the signs were promising. While most people would flock to one of Rick Stein’s eateries in Padstow, I’d be more happy to go to Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 for better food.
Address: 6 Middle Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AP, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1841 532 093
From May to Sep: Tuesday-Sunday: 10:30-16:00, 18:00-22:00
From Oct to Apr: Tuesday-Sunday: 10:30-16:00, 19:00-22:00
Total: 15/20 [Based on visit in April 2011]