Anyone that knows me or reads any of the nonsense I put on Facebook and Insta will know that I love St Ives! As in REALLY love it. Since meeting Chris in 2014 and being introduced to this little seaside town (claimed as the sunniest place in the UK), we’ve been at least once a year.
So I was thrilled last weekend, to be able to take Mum for her first ever trip down there. It was touch and go whether we’d make it as she’d been poorly, but we managed to book a fabulous two bed apartment with Carbis Bay Holidays just five days before our departure! We bagged a bargain, so I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you’re heading down last minute. (#NotAnAd!)
Our apartment was ideally located as it was only a short walk down into the main town and only moments from Porthmeor beach, which was where Chris popped the question in Jan 2016. Being October (and me being lazy) there was little chance of me ‘doing a Chris’ and laying on blankets, fizz and a fire on the beach, so instead I took Mum to Porthmeor cafe for drinks to admire our special place in comfort.
Porthmeor is an absolutely stunning beach and the cafe has the perfect view. A large expanse of beautiful golden sand, clear blue waters that sparkle and ‘the island’ (actually a peninsular, not that I’m picky) to your right with the Chapel of St Nicholas perched on top. To me there is something about being close to the water – which my friends would laugh at because I’m known to hate getting in it, unless it’s a bath – that is soothing for the soul and makes me super calm and happy. Although the fact I usually have a glass in hand might have something to do with it too… The beach is also blessed with the benefit of being one of the best spots for sunset in St Ives, so if you grab a table at the right time the sky may even put on a show for you.
We sat in the newly improved outdoor seating area to the right of the main building (when facing the beach). It now has a roof, pretty lighting, glass windows as a back wall offering a bit more protection, along with the standard lower glass barrier at the front offering an uninterrupted view if you’re beach side. It also had the added benefit of heaters, which provided a golden glow but also kept my Mum who is very susceptible to a chill, positively toasty!
You have the option of dining in this area too, although reservations are not accepted as it’s weather dependent. You can book for the tables inside (an area which also offers spectacular views due to the glass front/ceiling, but can be a bit smokey because of the kitchen) and it appeared if you did so, that you may have preferential treatment for the coveted beach side tables if one becomes free. (I’m not sure if this is cafe policy though, just based on observation and what happened with us).
Surprise! She’s got a glass in hand.
They have a great range of wines and fizz available with a small number available by the glass. I’ve tried the Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio Blush and the prosecco and enjoyed them all (shocker!) They also have an extensive range of cocktails, beers, and Cornish Orchards cider! Drinks are reasonably priced for the area, particularly considering the spectacular scenery – you’ll pay around £8 for a cocktail, £6 for a glass of fizz, £5.50 for a bog standard glass of wine and £4.50 for a cider. Bottles of wine start around the £18 mark, and there is free tap water available if required!
Sat outside you might worry you’d be forgotten about – thankfully not so here, a well wrapped up member of staff was on stand by throughout the evening, so when we wanted another glass of wine, or the bill, we weren’t struggling to get someone’s attention.
While bookings are taken (inside and in the outdoor booths) for dinner, no reservations are taken for breakfast (or lunch), but this wasn’t an issue when we popped in for a lazy bite to eat one morning. This time we were seated in the more exposed outdoor seating area, close to the heated booths. There is a ‘build your own’ breakfast option, which starts with two eggs on toast (£4.50) and then each extra item is chargeable – great for those who hate items on the ‘standard’ full English and would like to pick and chose, but potentially costly for those who want the works!
This didn’t bother us though as we rarely order a full English when out and about (Mums fussy and I’m usually more about the Eggs Royale). As we had smoked salmon at the apartment, I went for the Cornish sausage bap (£4.60) and Mum plumped for the broccolini and mushroom omelette with spinach, walnuts (£6.90) which should have come with feta but she’s not a fan. My bap may look a little simple but the sausages were clearly of a high meat content, while the bun also looked and tasted good quality.
Mum was equally impressed with her omelette. She loved the combination which isn’t one she would have thought of, and she was pleased the chef didn’t mind her asking them to cook it “well done”! (Never serve my mum a runny omelette). Overall we were impressed with our breakfast – while the ‘build your own’ may not suit all, I liked the idea and could be tempted by poached eggs and smoked salmon next time, although thinking of those sausages again has made me want another bap!
There is a wide selection of hot drinks on offer, although much to Mums disappointment they don’t have skimmed milk – only semi. I didn’t have one on this occasion as I was too warm (yes – in October, although as I write this we’ve the hottest October day in seven years forecast later this week) but I’ve previously really enjoyed their hot chocolate on a cold day as the whipped cream was incredibly thick. That said @cupcakeicingsugar of Insta didn’t enjoy hers on a recent visit, so try at your own risk. This time I went for the standard orange juice as I found the fresh orange juice eye wateringly expensive at not far short of a fiver – but perhaps that’s the going rate?
Somehow on the same day we ended up back for dinner (admittedly because we failed getting in elsewhere, but we had intended to return the following evening so we were happy either way). We booked for indoors but managed to bag one of the aforementioned ‘beach side’ tables on the terrace.
The wine decision was easy (blush, as the night before) but food was difficult as there is a great selection of tapas in addition to a selection of main courses. There were arancini on the menu, which some will know is one of my absolute favourites – but it wasn’t to be, as these had mint in and I am sadly not a fan.
Chris and I have had the tapas before and thoroughly enjoyed. There is a huge selection (over 20 dishes) with a wide variety of gluten free and veggie/vegan options, so there really is something for everyone. But on this occasion I decided to go for something that I’ve never eaten before – Thai red prawn curry which came with butternut squash, green beans, rice, and a flat bread and was priced at £15.95. I love Thai food (I lived in Thailand for six months in 2010) and red curry in particular but for whatever reason, I’d not had it with prawns before… I think because I don’t often trust the quality of prawns when out, and seafood in curry sounds a bit wrong?
Turns out I have been seriously missing out!! Although – I have a feeling not all prawn Thai red curries are made equal. This was great, the prawns were a great size (I don’t like the tiddly little ones) and plentiful. The red curry had heat but also depth of flavour, even with the sliced red chillis it wasn’t overpowering. I loved the veg and garnish, particularly the variety of textures in there. I thought the alternative presentation – serving the curry and rice in the bowl together – was great as I often spend time fiddling about when its served separately. I didn’t need the flat bread and found its addition a little odd, but as a bread fiend I will happily double up on carbs and used it to mop up my sauce with gusto. Absolutely scrummy.
Mum unfortunately wasn’t as impressed with her main course as I, particularly after she tried some of mine – I could practically see the food envy written all over her face. While she was very complimentary on her hake, she felt the rest of it let the dish down. The menu said it would be accompanied with ‘crabbed new potatoes’ which really speaking we should have asked for further explanation of – Mum hates mayonnaise – on arrival it appeared this meant cold new potatoes in crab mayo, which unfortunately she felt didn’t actually contain much crab. Such a shame – if she’d have had their chips instead could have been a winner.
For pudding it was my turn to make an error of judgement. I ordered the churros, as they are one of my favourite puddings. I am unfortunately not a fan of cinnamon. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I hate cinnamon. And these were dusted in cinnamon sugar. So I ate them, but they really weren’t my best churros ever. They were also a little oily for my taste and the chocolate sauce tasted cheap, but perhaps I’m spoilt having had the delicious Belgian sauce with my Los Churros Amigos at Big Feastival.
So unfortunately our dinner was a bit of a mixed bag out of our three visits last weekend!! Would we return? Absolutely – we’re planning another St Ives trip for my birthday in Jan and all I can think is I want that curry again!!
Where: Porthmeor Beach, Saint Ives TR26 1JZ
Thanks for reading!