Staycation: The St Enodoc Hotel, Cornwall
by Melanie Leyshon
Melanie Leyshon and her partner visit the St Enodoc Hotel on the north Cornish coast for a laid-back foodie break
The iconic hotel has been given a coastal chic makeover and two new dining options by the hotel’s new owners, Lucy and James Strachan.
There’s the relaxed brasserie and the Karrek restaurant that serves six or nine-course tasting menus. Both are overseen by executive chef Guy Owen, who has the Great British Menu and Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park on his resume.
Where is it?
The St Enodoc Hotel overlooks the Camel Estuary in Rock on the north Cornish coast. Rock is the calmer cousin of nearby Padstow and popular for yachting and watersports. It’s also a five-minute walk from the St Enodoc Hotel into Rock.
What’s the accommodation like?
The 17 double bedrooms and four suites, some of which have estuary views, have been refurbished. Rooms are painted in neutral colours and lifted by splashes of blue and green in textiles and striking paintings by local artists. Our junior suite was spacious with enough room for a huge corner sofa and a concealed mini kitchenette, kitted out with a Nespresso coffee machine, sink, fridge and microwave. All you need to assemble a light meal. The large bathroom has the latest in shower technology, which was easy to figure out, and a large bath, white towelling robes and Bramley toiletries. A smart TV on the wall allows you to log in to your own Netflix account.
What did you eat and drink?
The relaxed brasserie serves favourites with local ingredients. To start, we tucked into the simplicity of Porthilly oysters and moreish dainty saffron arancini with a truffle mayo. A mackerel fillet was white and tender and came teriyaki style topped with purple flowers. The creamiest burrata was complemented by figs and a crunch from toasted seeds. For mains, we had braised lamb shoulder that came French style with dauphinoise and peas. Buttermilk fried chicken and fries was more American; mighty yet tender. We still had room for the light as air homemade donut with creme pat and salted caramel, and a superb selection of Cornish cheeses.
The higher end Karrek restaurant is where executive chef Guy uses his skills to create tasting menus (six or nine courses) that can be paired with matching wine flights. The attention to detail is phenomenal from start to finish. It kicks off with a soft-baked pretzel with that distinctive deep caramel sheen, served with a creamy butter and a glass of Camel Valley Cornwall Brut, and finishes with two delicate desserts – a sunburst of honey and lemon, and a rhubarb and white chocolate ‘Viennetta’.
In between, the menus go big on locally caught Cornish seafood. It shines in dishes such as a light oyster and mussel risotto and a crab quiche. The meat course of succulent duck with in-season rhubarb was a triumph, too, matched with an elegant Seven of Hearts pinot noir from Oregon.
What is there to do?
Walk down to Rock for watersports, or it’s a gentle 30-minute stroll over to Daymer Beach where you can sunbathe or swim. St Enodoc Church, where poet Sir John Betjeman is buried, is just a short walk away, tucked behind St Enodoc Golf Club.
The ferry from Rock can whizz you over to Padstow where you can check out the Rick Stein food options and browse the small art galleries and seaside shops.
A visit to Camel Valley Vineyard, just half an hour away by car, is a must for a guided tour and tasting.
What do I need to pack?
The hotel is smart but not stuffy, so take smart casual. Pack a swimsuit for a dip in the heated pool and comfortable walking shoes or trainers to explore the South West Coast Path.
The nine-course tasting menu and matching wine flight at Karrek, followed by a stroll down to the waterfront at Rock.
Sainsbury’s magazine insider tip
Instead of driving around the estuary to Padstow, which takes 40 minutes, catch the small ferry that whisks you across in 10 minutes.
How to book
A two-night dinner, bed and breakfast stay at St Enodoc, including a three-course dinner in the brasserie and a nine-course dinner in Karrek, costs from £500 for two people.