The Stable, Falmouth

Earlier this year, I was very kindly invited to review a new pizza and cider restaurant in Newquay called The Stable.

The concept was simple but executed well – an extensive and unusual pizza menu featuring lots of local produce, with names related to local landmarks, and a cider menu with 80 bottled and draught ciders, included several local brands.

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If you read my review you’ll see that I was very impressed, and so when I heard that a new branch of the South West chain was going to be opening in Falmouth, I was more than happy to say yes to an invite of the launch which took place last night.

One thing all of the Stable restaurants has in common is being located in interesting and special buildings and locations. While the Stable in Newquay has stunning panoramic views of Fistral Beach, the Falmouth restaurant has taken over the old custom house overlooking the harbour, and is a building with real character. The Stable team have spent a year restoring the building to have it ready for opening, and the time and effort spent on it definitely shows.

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Along with some hungry and thirsty friends, I arrived last night and headed straight into the upstairs restaurant to try out some of the ciders.

If you’re indecisive like me, the tasting board is ideal – five 200ml glasses for £7.50, with a card explaining which is which. As I was driving, I shared the board with my friends, and their opinions were split on which were the best – one was a  fan of the Apple Slayer, while another preferred the sparking ciders, especially the Stable Drop Gold.

We were also big fans of one of the local bottled ciders on sale, Cornish Orchards Vintage – it’s a 7.2% cider, more commonly known as ‘night wrecker’…

Pizza was being handed out on boards by waitresses (and very young children) walking around the room. Between us, we tried the West Country Porker, with chorizo, mozzarella and rocket; the Lamb Roast with lamb, sweet potato and goats cheese; the Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and avocado; the Red Ruby Rustler with ground beef, chorizo, mushrooms and ham and the Smithick Scorcher, with chopped pork and Naga chillies.

Our group favourite was the Lamb Roast, but all were good with lots of toppings on thin and crispy bases – as I said before, a lot better than you’ll find in any other pizza chain around here.

The launch evening was extremely busy, with a band playing in the downstairs room which also houses the impressive cider display behind the bar – seriously, try choosing from all of these!

The Stable in Falmouth opens to the public tonight, and I’m sure it will be a great success – the one in Newquay is ALWAYS super busy, and with the same quality of pizza and cider I’m sure the Falmouth one will be the same.

The Stable, Fistral – review

When I first heard that a branch of the South West restaurant chain The Stable was opening in Newquay, I was pretty excited.

The concept is simple – pizza, pie and cider. LOTS of cider. And how could that not be awesome?

Although it is a chain, the menu at each Stable varies a little, using local ingredients to create different pizzas (named after local landmarks) and also featuring local ciders alongside the regulars.

The team at The Stable very kindly offered me the chance to visit and review the new Fistral restaurant last week. Before you even get to ordering, the restaurant impresses with the absolutely stunning panoramic views out over Fistral beach – it’s a great reminder of why living in Cornwall is so brilliant!

When we visited for a mid-week dinner, it was pretty busy with many of the tables reserved, and the atmosphere was lively and loud.

Normally I struggle with choosing what to eat when I’m out, but at The Stable the food was the easy bit – faced with a menu of around 60 draught and bottled ciders, deciding on a drink was much harder!

In the end I went for an Annings Pear and Peach, and my reviewing partner Becky went for a Norcotts Cider with Elderflower. Mine was light and fruity, refreshing and far too easy to drink; Becky’s was maybe a little stronger but equally delicious – I wouldn’t hesitate to have either again.

If like me you struggle to make decisions, you can order a cider tasting board – five 1/3 pints with tasting notes. The couple next to us had one and let me take a photo – definitely think I’m going to have to try this next time I visit…

For the main, I chose the Headland Herbivore pizza – roast potatoes, Cornish blue cheese, roasted Spanish onions, spinach, tomato and mozzarella. I thought it was great – the base was super thin but not overly crispy, there were plenty of toppings, and the flavours worked really well – I don’t usually like blue cheese, but on this it wasn’t at all overpowering.

Becky had the The Cribbar – free-range chicken, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, tomato and mozzarella. She was equally impressed, particularly with the quality of the chicken which was much better than you’d usually expect from a pizza.

After pizza and cider we were both stuffed, but it would have been rude to say no to dessert, so I had a baked caramelised apple and ginger cheesecake with pecan praline and Becky had the chocolate brownie with clotted cream.

I have to be honest, it is VERY rare that I am impressed by restaurant cheesecake, and more often than not think I could have done a better job myself. Not so this time – it was to die for! Perfect texture, great flavours, and just delicious. So good!

The brownie was super rich and Becky could only eat half, but any serious chocolate lover would be in heaven I’m sure.

Even though it was ‘only’ a pizza restaurant and nothing fancy, my meal at the Stable was one of the best I’ve had out in a while, and I think it’s going to prove extremely popular with both visitors and locals. I will definitely be going back – I have a lot of ciders to work my way through…

Thanks again to the lovely team at the Stable for sorting out our meal – opinions are 100% non-biased though as always! Thanks also to the bar and waiting staff who were friendly, helpful, and seemed to genuinely want diners to enjoy their experience – top service 🙂

Eating my weight in bread and cheese – Pizza Express review

What with new year healthiness and most people I know generally not having a lot of money this month, I haven’t really been eating out as much as I should, given that I’ve just moved to a town packed full of restaurants.

Luckily, I had the perfect excuse to break this sad trend when Pizza Express asked me if I’d like to review one of their restaurants – erm, yes please!

It was actually with a view to promoting their Christmas menu that they were contacting bloggers, but things were so hectic in December I was never going to have enough time to visit and do the write up before the festive season ended and so I waited until last week to try the normal menu instead.

My lovely friend and co-reviewer Fiona and I visited the Pizza Express restaurant in Newquay – according to my colleague it has the most amazing views out over the sea, but as we visited at night unfortunately that bit completely passed me by.

I am the worst person ever at making menu decisions, and this was no exception. Even though I had already committed to having pizza, the choices on offer are extensive – first you have to decide if you want the classic base or the thinner and crispier, more ‘authentic Italian’ Romana base, then you have a choice of ten or so different flavours, or your own choice of topping.

Caprina Rossa Romana

I went for the Caprina Rossa Romana, which consists of mozzarella, goat’s cheese, beetroot, red onion, tomato, rocket and pesto. Fiona chose the Diavolo (I think because she was looking for the one with the most meat), which was topped with hot spiced beef, pepperoni, red onions, Tabasco and some sort of hot green peppers.

I thought mine was great – beetroot and goats cheese could both potentially be quite overpowering, but all the flavours worked together well, and were interesting enough to make you want to finish the pizza, rather than get bored half way through.

Fiona liked hers too, although her main complaint was that our waitress didn’t ask what type of chillies she wanted – apparently you get a choice of hot green, jalapeno or roquito peppers, but not being chilli aficionados we weren’t too sure what she was actually given. They definitely weren’t jalapeños, but they were super hot and it would definitely be a struggle to eat them all.

Diavolo Romana

We both agreed that the Romana base was good, but slightly verging on too crispy at the edges. Could be because we’re used to the slightly thicker type that you’re usually served in England, but I don’t like deep-pan pizzas at all so I would much prefer too thin to too thick.

Sadly where Pizza Express let itself down, in my opinion, was with the desserts.

Even though I was stuffed full of pizza (probably more bread and cheese than I would normally have in a week) I felt like I couldn’t write a proper review without trying something sweet.

I chose a lemon meringue torts from the ‘dolcetti’ menu – mini desserts served with a coffee. I know that desserts at Pizza Express are going to be mass produced, frozen and defrosted, but even with that in mind it was still a bit of a letdown – the lemon had no zing whatsoever, the meringue was too soft and sweet, and the pastry was bland.

Fiona’s chocolate fudge cake was better, but we both agreed that it would have been much better served warm, and that in most places that’s what you’d expect to get.

In Pizza Express’ defence, you go there for pizza, not dessert, so it’s kind of fair enough that they focus their attention on the mains. Also, the couple sat at the table next to us shared a giant ice cream sundae and that did look pretty immense, so maybe it was a bit of bad ordering on my part that was partly to blame.

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal and I would definitely go back again – but when it’s light enough to enjoy the view, and definitely with ice cream for dessert!

Disclaimer bit – Pizza Express very kindly gave me a gift card to spend at the restaurant, but opinions are 100% honest – I definitely didn’t have to be nice!

Lunch at the Riverford Field Kitchen

Last week, I had the pleasure of enjoying an ‘intimate bloggers lunch’ at Riverford Field Kitchen near Buckfastleigh in Devon.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Riverford is a cooperative of organic farms, mostly in Devon, which delivers veg boxes to homes across the country. The place where it all started, Wash Farm, is owned by Guy Watson, and along with my fellow food bloggers I was treated to a tour of the farm before we sat down to lunch.

I won’t lie, it would have been a little more enjoyable if it had hadn’t been in the minus degrees and my hands and feet hadn’t turned into icicles, but it was very interesting to take the tour, see some of what’s being grown and find out more from Guy about the history of the farm, the problems they’ve faced with the horrific weather, and how the whole operation is managed.

We also saw where the veg is stored and packed, and had a little snoop at the boxes waiting to go out. Guy admitted that there was more important produce than he would have liked, but February is not the best time for British fruit and veg and I imagine customers still expect a bit of variety, even though the emphasis with the veg boxes is very much on locality and seasonality.

On to lunch, at the Riverford Field Kitchen – a rustic, casual dining room lined with long wooden tables serving a menu designed for sharing – using produce fresh from the fields, naturally.

The company for the lunch couldn’t have been better – along with Guy and Holly (Riverford’s digital marketing manager and organiser of the lunch) were Choclette and her CT, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting before at a couple of Clandestine Cake Club events; the Frugal Queen and her Dearly Beloved; Grazing Kate and Marcus from Country Woodsmoke. I really enjoyed having the chance to meet more fellow South West food bloggers and very much hope it won’t be the last time we meet in person.

To start with we were served a Cropwell Bishop blue cheese, celery and apple salad with hazelnuts and radish sprouts with some fantastic homemade bread, which on any normal day would have been enough on its own to satisfy me at lunchtime but I did my best to restrain myself so I could enjoy the rest of the meal.

Quite often, I’m put off from eating out by the fact that I know the vegetarian options will be limited and I could do a better job at home, but that is definitely not the case at Riverford.

The veg is the star of the show with one meat dish and four veggie sides, but I was still given a vegetarian alternative to the duck main of griddled aubergine and ricotta on butternut squash, lentils and spinach.

Served with it were carrots and beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower with mustard, spring greens and kale with wild garlic and my personal favourite, a celeriac, potato and mushroom gratin – I could have eaten the whole dish, it was so good!

Luckily for my waistline I didn’t, but you’ll see from the picture at the top of this post that my normal portion control went out the window with so many delicious dishes on offer…

For dessert diners are invited to the serving pass to choose from a selection of around 6 cakes and puddings. Decision making is not my strongpoint, and I feel I may have made a mistake choosing the lemon cheesecake instead of the pear and chocolate pavlova – I do love cheesecake but it’s something I often make for myself so I am very critical, and although the texture was spot on it could have done with a little more lemony zing for my liking.

A 2-course lunch at Riverford is normally £22.50 per person, which although a bit pricey is really excellent value when you look at the amount and the quality you get, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again and pay that price.

Riverford has very kindly offered to send me a veg box to review as well, which will be coming later in the month when I return from a mini-holiday, so check back in a few weeks to see what I think of that!