Padstow has a certain charm as I was finding out, day boats both moored whilst mariners caught up on sleep or spending time with loved ones, and others getting ready to set sail while the tide was rising during the flow seemed to set the pace, with all the supporting actors doing their bit.
I had planned this trip in March, 8 months prior and only a week before the event started COVID was to strike a minor blow to my plans, an email in my inbox unfortunately cancelling my reservation due to both staff availability and safety, quite understandable under the circumstances but I had read comments on TripAdvisor being quite vitreolic towards restaurants as if they should remain open under any condition, I can imagine really upsetting to the proprietors under the circumstances and also to me.
I had selected and booked a series of restaurants and now I was having to try and find a reservation last minute, and knowing and hearing how quickly staycations were being booked I was not that hopefull, but luckily I managed to get a table at Paul Ainsworths’ Caffè Rojano, you can read about its history here.
On arrival I was welcomed to my table by Mauro, my waitress Jade would be over shortly to sort out my order. It was a fun, relaxed and welcoming environment, buzzing with patrons, both local and visiting it felt great. The menu is really good, not too many choices which I prefer as I can take ages to decide, but covering small plates, pasta, meat and fish, with a variety of drinks to tempt.
After a 3 1/2 hour drive, I was not going to tackle a ‘traditional’ larger plate of food, but focussed on the small plates of which there was a really good selection. And rather than go for a bottle of wine, for fun would try and create my own wine flight and pick something for each cuisine.
So, dish No.1 Beech-smoked anchovies with a Cabernet sauvignon vinaigrette & parsley. And the wine choice, a 2020 Cantina di Monteforte, Soave Classico from Italy. I wasn’t sure what to expect but these anchovies were damn good, fat, juicy, rich, not at all salty like you get from you know where, just yum. The Vinaigrette, lemon and parsley cut through the rich flavour and the wine worked well. Mauro came over to enquire what I thought, he was passionate about food and when I enquired as to the origin of the anchovies he got me the supplier name which I now have stored on my iPhone, they were delicious.
Now dish No.2 Ham ‘n’ cheese croquetas using Dehesa Solana Iberian ham, Manchego cheese and thyme. This time the wine choice was 2020 Chardonnay ‘16 Stops’, Adelaide, Australia which worked really well. Another great dish, rich, salty, creamy and delicious. The lovely Jade had arranged for the wine and dishes to come out at approximately 10 min gaps between each course which was fab, it was like a ‘tasting’ menu, relaxed and really enjoyable after a days travelling.
Dish No.3 next, Duroc rib using Iberian pork, PX barbecue glaze, wine choice was a 2018 Rioja Crianza, Bodegas LAN, Rioja Alavesa, Spain. Duroc Pigs have an American heritage, and named after a trotting stallion with the same name. The ribs are renowned to be very tender (if cooked correctly of course), and these were just mighty fine, in fact incredibly so being able to ‘cut’ them with the smooth edge of a spoon, they matched the Rioja very nicely indeed, these meal was going very well indeed.
Jade and Mauro were great hosts, spending time with with me and chatting when time allowed they new their trade well, and accommodating my wishes time wise so the evening was not a all rushed, time to savour each mouth of food, and glug of wine!
Next came the Baked Yukon Gold, a Slow-cooked beef Ragu atop a crispy baked potato with sour cream, parmesan and chives, and I decided to stay with the Rioja to match the rich Ragu. Boy this was very rich, very meaty and packed full of flavour, it matched the Rioja nicely and was a great finish to to the savoury section of the meal, not what to do for dessert.
I often struggle with desserts, not being a ‘sweet’ person and more aimed towards savoury things there was one item that attracted my eye, ‘PX’ served with Bella Luna Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry, curious indeed I ordered one and waited to see what would turn up. So, basically an extremely indulgent salted caramel soft ice cream with a bottle of sweet sherry which you poured over the top, er, yummmmmm. It was a delicious end to a fabulous evening with the supporting act of Mauro who had the passion and energy of a Matador and Jade from Somerset, providing a beautiful service both these characters are a credit to Caffè Rojano.
I had a lovely relaxed evening, the food was amazing, the staff were amazing, and I was stuffed, and the next day I had to indulge in two more restaurants, the 1st one ‘The Mariners’, will be the next post. A special shout out to Senior Sous Chef Sam Bessant who was on the pass the evening I was there, his skill along with the rest of the kitchen brigade produced some fantastic food which I will never forget.
Caffè Rojano comes highly recommended, I paid full price for the meal, no discounts for writing a nice story, it was a great place to eat and seeing how many people were seated I was not alone in that view. Add it to your ‘must do’s’ next time you are heading to Padstow.
…………………………………………Until Next Time……………………..L8ers…………………………….