When you think of Rick Stein’s eating establishments, his Seafood Restaurant and Fish & Chips shop in Padstow spring to mind. But you may not know he also runs a traditional pub, The Cornish Arms, in the village of St Merryn, a few miles inland from Padstow and conveniently located just down the road from my wife’s grandparents’ house…
There can’t be too many pubs in the country that boast a setting like that of the Cornish Arms, which screams stereotypical quaint English countryside pub. On a bend in a winding B-road, opposite St Merryn church with farmer’s fields behind it, the pub has an enviable beer garden.
Inside there’s a pool table, a couple of working fireplaces, a large room for diners and a smaller room at the back for drinkers.
The pub is owned by St Austell Brewery – Stein’s team are the Tenants of the Year for 2012. As with all St Austell Brewery pubs, the choice of beers is fantastic. There’s Cornish Korev lager as well as Rattler Cornish cider, but the three ales (Trelawny at 3.8%, Tribute at 4.2% and Proper Job at 4.5%) are superb and have converted me from a lager lout to a real ale bore.
The prices are pretty steep but this is Cornwall, what do you expect? My pint of Trelawny came in at a standard £3.40 but the round (which consisted of just the one pint for me, and a large glass of white wine for Kat) cost £11.40. I was sure the barman had made a mistake, but no – the Rick Stein’s Chardonnay really is £8 a large glass. If you’re going to order wine, ask for the house stuff!
As lovely as the beer and the setting may be, the reason people come here is for the food. It's a slightly more upmarket approach to pub-grub and is not as overpriced as you might think, especially if you've already ordered a drink. As with most pubs these days, there's a curry night, a steak night and a Sunday Roast.
Kat and I both went for the Mussels and Chips, and were served with a huge bowl each with fresh bread and butter for £12. We had thought about the burger (£10.50) and the pint of prawns(£9.20), but were happy with our choice, Kat saying it was the nicest meal she'd had all year.
The waiting times are short and the service is good, but the kitchen is not open all day so check for opening hours before turning up.
I finished off with Bakewell Tart and clotted cream, while Kat went for the Chocolate Pot (both £4.90). We went home a few pounds heavier, plenty of quid lighter but happy and looking forward to our next visit.