Apparently concern was expressed by the locals when Stein took over the pub last year, but rather than transform their village local into a modern and expensive gastro pub he seems to have succeeded in his aim of maintaining a community atmosphere and the feel of a traditional pub, which at the same time serves excellent pub food.
The inside it is spacious and welcoming. Bare chunky wooden tables dominate the main dining space and big glass doors at the bottom open onto a huge terrace with picnic tables. There are also a couple of smaller rooms and alcoves, one with a TV, and further tables and seating. There is also a lovely area to sit out at the front, overlooking the village church. At the time of our visit a massive marquee had been erected in the garden housing a big screen, bar and table football for the world cup.
As you would expect the bar offers the full range of 4 St. Austell Ales: Tribute, Tinners, HSD and Proper Job. We ordered a pint of Proper Job and managed to grab a seat at one of the few free tables. The ale was well kept and served with a slight head, a feature appreciated by us northerners.
The menu is relatively short and comprises of classic British pub grub, this is complimented by a blackboard menu with a handful of specials. Once you've found a seat and made your selection you order your food at the bar.
For starters I went with the mussels and was soon brought a big bowl for the empty shells, a spoon for the sauce and a bowl of hot water with lemon; a good start. When the mussels arrived each shell contained a sweet, meaty morsel and none remained closed. If I am honest there was a little too much diced onion but it was otherwise tasty and the mussels clearly very fresh and well cooked. The bread was delicious too, spread with soft Cornish butter it made a delicious vehicle for mopping up the remnants of the creamy sauce .
The crab Salad that Dave ordered arrived with a generous portion of picked white crab meat, a splodge of deep yellow, wobbly home made mayo and rustic foccacia bread; it certainly looked the part. The simplicity of the dish made the most of the fresh crab and it was delicious.
For my main course I chose ham, eggs and chips; a slice of ham covered the plate and the hot crispy chips were divine dipped into the perfect egg yolks. I felt obliged to have at least one of my five a day and also ordered a side dish of green salad, it would have benefited from a slick of dressing but the leaves were fresh.
Dave had the curry - Mumrez Khan’s lamb & spinach Kharahi curry. Described as "hot and spicy" on the menu it really had to live up to this assertion, and it did. It had a great depth of flavour and definitely packed a bit of a punch. The curry was served with fluffy rice and a couple of nice crisp poppadoms.
This is just the sort of food I want to eat over a couple of pints after a days walking; no nonsense, simple but excellent quality pub grub. It beats most other pubs I've eaten at hands down.
It seems that these days good food is an ever more important part of many a pub's success and here it works well. I really hope the locals appreciate this place as much as we did; if this was my local I wouldn't be able to keep away. We hear about pubs closing all the time, maybe if they took a steer from places like this more pubs would thrive as a viable and vital part of community life.
The Cornish Arms
Churchtown, St Merryn, Padstow, PL28 8ND
This post forms part of a series about our 2010 gastro camping trip in Cornwall.