Despite a mix up over the booking, which to be fair I had made 3 months in advance and without a follow up call, we received a warm reception. The chef-proprietors (Neil & Leonie Woodward) did everything they could to make us welcome and found us a table, despite not actually having our reservation and the restaurant already being fully booked.
We settled down with a pint of bottle conditioned Atlanic Gold - an organic beer from the Atlantic micro-brewery in Newquay - to peruse the blackboard menu. It's a small but interesting menu which changes on a weekly, even daily, basis depending on what is available and at its best. Neil describes the cooking as 'modern rustic' and it is epitomised in dishes such as Baked local scallops in their shells with black pudding, Pan fried plaice, local sea bass & monkfish with anchovy vermouth & caper sauce or Slow roast Cornish pork belly, braised puy lentils. They also do a weekly curry night in the winter months and a fish and seafood night every Wednesday throughout the year. Impressively everything from the artisan breads and pastries to ice-creams & sorbets are made on the premises.
The restaurant is informal, small and comfortable, essentially a couple of rooms of a cottage knocked through. It has an open kitchen at the far end and we could see Leonie calmly going about the cooking. Neil did the front of house himself and the service was first-class, despite there being a full dining room; unobtrusive yet prompt, friendly and helpful.
What is more, the food was startlingly good.
For starters I chose the wild rabbit terrine with home made picalli. Moist morsels of rabbit meat were surrounded in a lovely rabbit farce. The picalli was unequivocally the best I have had; lovely chunky crisp veggies in a piquant yellow sauce.
Dave had steamed Gweek mussels with coconut, chilli and coriander. Gweek is a tiny port at the top of the nearby Helford river and the quality of the local mussels was exceptional.
My main course of home smoked haddock croquettes with hollandaise sauce really worked well. The soft croquettes were full of smoky fish flavour, coated in a delicious crispy crumb and served in a pool of delicious hollandasie sauce with a wedge of lemon.
Dave had the Moroccan spiced mackerel with aubergine and yoghurt; a generous portion of two large very fresh mackerel with grilled aubergine and a minted cucumber yogurt sauce.
The main courses were served with Cornish new potatoes and some nicely cooked veg.
I just couldn't resist the tempting cheese menu, but was unable to find room for the full cheese plate. Instead I went for the single cheese option, choosing the Sharpham Rustic from Devon - a young semi-hard unpasteurised cheese with a moist, creamy texture - which was served simply with oatcakes and apple.
The commitment to the use of the best local ingredients is impressive and the quality of the food that is served here is testament to the owners' efforts.
You can even learn to bake bread at the Greenhouse as Neil also runs bread baking courses.
It is very refreshing indeed to stumble across a hidden gem like this. There are no celebrity chef endorsements or overly complicated menus, just simple tasty dishes, well made using the best local ingredients and served with genuine hospitality. We left feeling like we had made a major new discovery and already looking forward to another visit. So shh, keep this little place a secret between just you and me.
6, High street St Keverne Helston Cornwall TR12 6NN
This post forms part of a series about our 2010 gastro camping trip in Cornwall.