For my birthday a few months ago, my Mum, brother and sister and families gave me vouchers for a meal at Margot’s Bistro in Padstow. I tried booking a table in the early summer, but they were booked up for weeks ahead, so I left it for a while. Then it occurred to me that our 30th wedding anniversary would be a good excuse for a posh nosh so in September I made the booking and on Tuesday we turned up, Diana and I, and Tris, of course, since she hadn’t gone back to Oxford yet.
We parked in the quayside car park, which is run by the Padstow Harbour Commissioners and charges 24 hours a day, every day, unlike the municipal car parks. (Padstow Harbour Commissioners also run the car park outside our favourite Indian restaurant in Wadebridge, with a similar charging policy. Their reach is long. You don’t mess with the Commissioners…) It was a short walk through the town to Margot’s, which turned out to be a small place with only 20 seats. We were expected, since they had taken the trouble to text me asking for confirmation of my booking that morning. And that was just as well, because the place filled up.
The service was suitably attentive, but not overbearing. I decided to celebrate with a glass of champagne, while Tris and Diana went for non-alcoholic drinks and we toasted thirty years, and the next thirty. We all chose the same starter, seared Cornish scallops with mixed leaves, herb oil and parsnip crisps. Plates arrived with six scallops arranged around a pile of mixed leaves with the crisps scattered over the top. They were beautifully cooked, seared on one side and moist through.
Diana and Tris had the whole baked lemon sole with new potatoes, tomato and chive butter sauce. I broke ranks with roast breast of Cornish chicken with spring onion mash, crisp ham and tarragon cream sauce. We added a side dish of mixed vegetables. The main courses, too, met with approval. For pudding, Tris had iced coffee parfait with brandy snap and chocolate sauce, Diana had saffron poached pear with clotted cream and jelly, and I had sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and double cream. Mmmmm!
We finished with coffee, tea, chocolate fudge and caramelised walnuts. The bill came to quite a lot, using our vouchers and then some, but it was worth the money. I took away a copy of the day’s menu as a souvenir (which is how the descriptions of the food we had managed to be so detailed).
The next day, we had fish and chips (and mushy peas), Tris’ last chance of them before returning to Oxford for the term. There are two fish and chip establishments in Wadebridge – Barney’s (owned by the Barnecutt conglomerate) and Rick’s (or Jon’s, depending whether you look at the sign on the road-side, or over the shop). We tend to use Barney’s because Rick’s/Jon’s mushy peas are rubbish. However, Barney’s hasn’t been great the last few times, so maybe we’ll try the other one some time soon, except for the mushy peas. Fish and chips also has the merit of being fairly rapid and low effort, and since we’d spent the day packing all Tris’ stuff and clearing space in the garage to put the loaded car into overnight, we were in need of something “low effort”.
On Thursday morning we set off for Oxford, managing to leave behind only the bike lights, helmet and bungee clips (which will go up by post this week). We stopped at Gordano services in Bristol for lunch (sandwiches, pizza) and then again at Chievely services for a cup of tea and a bun before heading into Oxford. Our unloading technique is pretty slick these days and we had Tris established in her room in under three hours. We then headed up to Cowley to stay with Ellie and Joe overnight. Ellie cooked us a pleasant beef curry and we slept on an Ikea sofa-bed, which was fine. In the morning we came home, a journey slightly disrupted by a warning message from the car to check the oil level. We couldn’t check it immediately, being on the motorway, but pulled in at the next service area. “Feed me one litre,” demanded the car. We decided it could wait while we had lunch (mushroom soup and sandwich), mainly because the petrol station came after the cafe. We arrived home and flopped. Supper was beans on toast.
On Saturday evening, we walked into town for dinner at the Granary. This is mainly a breakfast and lunch restaurant, which also opens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from six until ‘the chef gets tired’. Evidently he got tired very early this Saturday, since it was closed when we got there a bit after seven. We went down a side street to another restaurant, to find that also closed, and then made for the Glasshouse, which was pleasant enough, but not up to Margot’s.
On Sunday, I cooked dinner. Our (short) week of dining out was over.