For me, one of the greatest pleasures in life is discovering new restaurants, and trying dishes that you would never be whipping up for yourself at home- I don’t often eat out these days, and so when I do it is an extra special treat. I was thrilled to be invited along to the The Headland Hotel
in Newquay, Cornwall recently for an evening with their head chef, Christopher Archambault
to try out some of the dishes offered at the 2- Rosette awarded Samphire Restaurant
My first impression of the hotel was fantastic, instantly recognisable as the hotel in ‘The Witches’ film, the hotel sits on the headland overlooking the beautiful Fistral beach, with stunning sea views. I’m a stickler for good customer service and it was lovely to walk in and be greeted by enthusiastic staff who are clearly both proud of, and passionate about, their place of work. The rooms in the hotel are modern and many have beautiful sea views, and there is also a luxurious spa located in the hotel.
Alongside some fellow bloggers and journalists, we congregated in the grand lounge, with sweeping views out to sea, to enjoy the best gin and tonic (made with elderflower and pink grapefruit Tarquin’s gin), and then headed into the dining room. There we met Restaurant Manager, Kevin, who was our Sommelier for the evening, and had planned a fantastic wine flight for us. We also met Chris who had prepared 8 incredible courses for us to enjoy!
To start, we had a hand-dived scallop, with bone marrow, caviar, beef broth and leek scapes- this was absolutely beautiful, the scallop was melt-in-your mouth and complemented perfectly by its accompaniments- I have to admit it’s the first time I have ever tried caviar, and I loved it!
Following the appetizer, the first course was cod, orange, chorizo and Headland samphire. This was the perfect beginning to the meal, it was light and fresh with lots of beautiful flavours, and also super-pretty!
Next up was pigeon with rhubarb, sesame and hispi cabbage. The pigeon was tender and perfectly cooked, and the sesame crisp alongside it was to-die-for! with the tart and al-dente rhubarb, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish!
We were very lucky that during our meal Chris came out to talk to us about the food, why he had chosen certain ingredients and the inspiration behind the dish – again, it was such a fantastic experience to hear the passion that he has for local (and foraged) ingredients and the inspiration given to him by the Headland’s beautiful Cornish setting.
Our next course was curried monkfish, Headland sea spinach, soba noodles, nori crisp and mango. This was one of my favourites, the curry flavours alongside the monkfish was just perfect, and again all of the little touches made this such a perfectly balanced and delicious dish.
Steak, always a favourite for me, was next. We were served aged rib-eye, ox cheek rissole, cumin carrot, parsley sauce and pommes souffle. All absolutely delicious, the ox-cheek rissole was crispy on the outside and so richly meaty that it makes my mouth water to remember it! The steak was perfect and the savoury parsley sauce and the crispy pommes souffle complemented both meaty elements so well.
Time for starting on one of our 3 puddings! First was dark chocolate and lime with avocado ice-cream. The plate that this was served on was actually sprayed with a chocolate spray, and the dark chocolate and lime was a smooth, fudgy fondant consistency, and the avocado ice-cream, although a little strange sounding was smooth and creamy.
Another real favourite for me was the strawberry and elderflower cream tart- the lightest strawberry cream served in the most beautifully delicate crisp case- it was absolutely beautiful to look at and seriously dreamy to eat!
The final course was truffled brie cheesecake, pickled grapes and sultana puree. Now I wasn’t so sure about a savoury cheesecake, but this was absolutely lovely- a light whipped brie and a savoury salty base- just superb.
All of the food was absolutely delicious- imaginative without being odd, perfectly executed and an amazing showcase of the incredible produce available in the South-West of England. I thoroughly recommend it, and I hope that Christopher Archambault and the Headland Hotel continue to get the recognition that they deserve as a destination restaurant in the South-West.
Huge thanks to the team at the Headland for such an enjoyable evening, with special thanks to Christopher Archambault (you can follow him here on Instagram) and Alexandre the Senior Sous Chef (find him here on Instagram), Kevin Conac for such knowledgeable and interesting insights into the wines selected to accompany the meal, as well as a fun game of identifying different aromas (I definitely need to purchase one of these kits for Christmas!)
Congratulations to the Samphire Restaurant for winning the Muddy Stiletto award for best restaurant, 2017!
Disclosure: I was invited as a guest to enjoy the meal prepared for us at the Samphire Restaurant, and to stay overnight in the hotel. All opinions are my own, honest and truthful.