Many chefs boast about serving fresh, local produce, but eat at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, in Port Isaac, and you can spy the day boat, the Mary D, that caught your lunch bobbing on the sea just a few yards from your table. Few restaurants in the UK can be as close to the action as this wonky little slate-clad gem, once two fisherman’s cottages, bang on the harbour front.
Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is the little sister to Nathan Outlaw’s posher eponymous restaurant at the top of the village, and I visited while researching a feature on the food of the North Cornwall coast for Olive magazine. Its slimline card menu sets the scene for what to expect: “You shall have a fishy on a little dishy… ” and goes on to describe the offering as “small, original and delicious seafood plates, cooked to order and served when ready.”
It works. Like the building they’re served in the plates are indeed small (forget any hope of sharing, you won’t want to share even the tiniest morsel, believe me) and they are indeed original and delicious. Equally laudable is the fact that the fish is bought from local fishermen who use low impact fishing methods from boats at are certified by the responsible fishing scheme. I kicked off with Cured brill, that was paired with aromatic basil and pistachio and accompanied by an anchovy mayonnaise (£11). Sounds odd, but was a marriage made in fishy heaven – all thanks to the skills of Huddersfield-born chef Tim Barnes, who started as a pot-wash at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw then worked his way up.
But while the food, like that at the restaurant up top, is Michelin-starred, it’s also simple, letting the ingredients sing for themselves. (My third fish dish, for instance, was simply a grilled mackerel.) And the intimacy of the place means that formality goes out of the window and you’re chatting with the neighbours you’re rubbing elbows with before you’ve even started nibbling. Service likewise is slick and professional yet genuinely friendly and relaxed at the same time.
I finished with the Chocolate, Espresso & Lime Baked Alaska (£7.50), scoffed too fast to photograph and the end to a perfect lunch. Thumbs up Nathan – this is just how a restaurant should be!
You can read my feature about the food of the North Cornwall coast in the August issue of Olive .