We recently had a good and reasonably priced dinner at the Seafood Cafe in Padstow - the "third in command" in Rick Stein's local battalion. The restaurant was unpretentious, attractively decorated and the service was charming and obliging. As expected, the fish was fresh and well cooked and puddings were unctuous and generous. Further down the coast, we were lucky enough to get a terrace table at lunch on a hot sunny day, at a stunning spot in St Ives: The Porthminster Beach Café. Our food was delicious partly because everything we had exceeded expectations. The chocolate brownies were quite simply the best we have ever tasted, so much so that we had to order double and left, regretfully, clutching napkins containing emergency supplies.
In Norfolk, we dined at the fearsomely cliquey Hoste Arms in Burnham Market. This establishments reputation must be based on the fact that the area has become very popular with affluent 2nd home-owning Londoners, for whom this part of the Norfolk coast is like Notting Hill. There has yet to be an accompanying revolution in dining choice in the area, so places like this can get away with indifferent food, ragged service and prices that make true locals shake their heads. However, the surroundings are charming and spacious and the atmosphere convivial, although somewhat tempered by the decibel level.
Should you happen to be in Aubeterre bordering the Charente and Dordogne in France head for the Hostellerie du Perigord. Looked after by an English woman and her French chef husband, you will eat incredibly well, at a price which would make your hostess suffer imminent bankruptcy, were she to relocate to her native Worcestershire. Maybe a sprinkling too many Brits (in keeping with the area) to make you feel like youve stumbled across local authenticity, maybe not enough stars for the service, but the food is the point. The wine list is modest, but reasonably priced.
If you are as geographically schizophrenic as we have been in the last month and land up near Paleohora in southern Crete, head out of the touristy town 5 km west and go to Taverna Grammeno, in Grammeno. Here, you will find delicious local dishes cooked to the taste of local people, often not available in the more populous tourist areas. The taverna is covered by one of those lovely rustic vine entwined roofs and you may find stewed rabbit in cheese, stuffed courgette leaves and tender marinated goat on the menu.
Yes, I am currently frustrated with my work and can't think why I ever returned to London from my holiday. Plus, southern Crete didn't feel like it was about to be bombed by terrorists.