St Ives has just been voted one of the happiest places to live within the UK which is a fabulous accolade to have and we can certainly see why given its prominence of one of the finest seaside destinations in the UK with its endless choice of golden sandy beaches, incredible scenery, pretty harbour and the countless small independent retail shops & galleries including the world famous Tate St Ives, but it’s the real abundance of culinary choices now available and forever changing which also helps to elevate the brilliant ‘foodie’ reputation of St Ives with its many bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants which provide a really lovely culinary experience for all to enjoy whether holidaying in St Ives or locals visiting all year round!
The amazing food and drink scene has also spread beyond St Ives which is great to see, providing fabulous alternatives nearby for when St Ives is simply way too busy or you just fancy a change jump into your car with friends or family and explore these other wonderful foodie destinations and quirky ‘watering holes’ that are constantly springing up on our doorstep, with nowhere being more than a 20 minute drive from beautiful St Ives, Cornwall.
I have been an avid fan of the ever evolving Birdies Bistro for years now and it’s a fabulous place to have right on our doorstep, just a 5 minute drive from St Ives where you find Birdies situated at the head of the incredibly pretty Hayle Estuary, where there is a RSPB (LINK) most south westerly estuary in the UK, which is home to the most amazing variety of wetland birds, with winter often being the best time to visit when you can see vast flocks of beautiful wading birds wintering in the UK.
Birdies has recently expanded in size from its humble wooden beach hut style beginnings and is now a vibrant bright and airy seaside vintage style informal bistro with simply sensational views over the tidal estuary where you can not only enjoy the scenery through the huge windows from the inside of the colourful and buzzing main seating area that looks out over the estuary, but dine alfresco too with the recent addition of covered seating areas and wooden benches literally on the water’s edge where you can enjoy the food as well as the views.
Birdies is open 7 days a week serving traditional Full Cornish Breakfasts along with other tempting goodies such as bubble and squeak with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce and delicious focaccia rolls fully loaded with any breakfast combo you desire! Fabolous crafted coffees go hand in hand, but be warned, Birdies is always deservedly very busy and bustling so plan your visit well! Birdies is also now licensed and offers an array of craft ales and lager and wines to enjoy. Lunch and dinner are also on the menu with all the usual favourites including burgers, lentil Dhal, BBQ Chicken, seafood chowder to ham egg and chips. This place is an absolute must visit place to eat and drink on the fringe of St Ives!
The dramatic landscape and sub-tropical planting provide a backdrop to contemplative and inspiring art by internationally renowned artists . Take a stroll up through the woods to see a fabulous array of contemporary artwork and amazing sculptures set among the subtropical hillside, and as you amble higher up to visit the exhibits you have the most wonderful views overlooking St Michaels mount, a real haven to enjoy.
Before or after your garden visit you simply must pop into the restaurant for breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea and cake, you will not be disappointed. The café is in a lovely wooden structure full of character with floor to ceiling glass windows full of light and with plenty of cosy seating inside ( in the winter a roaring fire will greet you ) and a large area outside for those long summer days whether you sit out on the wooden benches or under the canopy, you are covered whatever the weather!
I am a regular visitor for their amazing breakfasts, often opting for the local bacon/sausage sandwich on fresh doorstep bread, served with a delicious homemade tomato relish and side salad or the baked free range eggs and chorizo sausage, with confit tomato and spinach served on toast is to die for and my other long standing favourite is their legendary Croque Monsieur with baked cheese and ham sandwich with mustard mornay sauce and house salad, I have to say this showstopper is the best Croque Monsieur I have ever tasted including those across the water in France!
There’s a wonderful lunch menu to packed with tasty goodies, homemade cakes, teas, and superb coffees made with passion and love, also wines and beers available to have your favourite tipple while you enjoy this absolute revelation of homemade inspiring yumminess !
This wonderfully small but perfectly formed small family run restaurant is another of my absolute favourites situated by the bridge over the stream in the pretty village of Newlyn. A lovely historical famous fishing port Just beyond Penzance, a 20 min drive from St Ives. I have been visiting since it first opened in 2015 and over the years has turned slowly but surely into one of the most successful small fish restaurants on the south coast of this part of Cornwall.
Mackerel Sky is open daily from 12-3pm and 5.30pm -8.30pm ( Closes mid-December to mid-February ) and I know one reason it has become so successful not just for its fabulous simple take on seafood dishes, it’s that you simply cannot book a table, its literally fist come first served which is how it should be. All year round and in particular the long summer months, whatever time of day I go by, huge queues snake along the footpath outside along to the restaurant with hungry customers from all over the world waiting for a seat either in the beautifully light and airy restaurant or on the terrace outside where fish dishes can be enjoyed while sitting beside the stream next to the restaurant watching the world go by with good company, laughter and yummy food.
When we last visited, we enjoyed a fabulous selection of dishes including giant prawns with lemon and aioli , fresh Newlyn Crab salad , delicate and perfectly cooked salt and pepper calamari and simply stunning crevettes and crab claws with olive oil and Turkish bread with a decent bowl of well-cooked chips, all washed down with a crisp glass of white wine and local St Ives Porth Pilsner lager, absolutely delicious !
Other dishes which looked amazing as they came out from the kitchen were Local grilled mackerel with pickles and cucumber, mussels with cider cream and fresh bread, scallops with Cornish Dukkah and amazing looking Crab Nachos with sour cream and jalapenos, all mouth-wateringly tempting !
The latest addition to the busy restaurant is the Mackerel sky seafood shack ( closes mid-December – mid February) just a couple of doors along from the restaurant, a cosy indoor extension of the restaurant so to speak for the very busy overflow times that has been running popular world themed seafood nights in recent weeks such as Thai week, American week and Italian week, which I’m certain will be a great success for the owners who clearly run this amazing restaurant with total vision and passion!
Amazingly there is another fabulous relatively new seafood restaurant just around the corner, a few minutes’ walk on from Mackerel Sky restaurant, next door to Newlyn’s famous fish market! Newlyn is a real working port, with real lives with an enduring connection to the sea and right in the heart of it is Argoe, an unbelievably good, very original, fish restaurant housed in a converted wooden clad container overlooking the working port and harbour full of fishing boats. Argoe is a real tribute to the towns fishing heritage of those who continue to fish today bringing some of the country’s best produce from the sea to tables, it simply cannot get fresher than straight from the boats to the restaurant!
Argoe has plenty of seating inside but outside alfresco dining is the best way to enjoy the catch of the day. Turn up ( booking very advisable ) and enjoy your favourite premeal drink sitting out in the fresh air on the high wooden bar tables overlooking the sea before having your lunch or dinner on the terrace overlooking the harbour, a real joy!
A late summer supper was enjoyed sharing an exquisitely yet simply cooked half lobster with herb butter, a whole lemon sole with buttery herby new potatoes , incredible Hispi cabbage and scallop butter and deep fried Scad & aioli, washed down with a Cornish lager and glass of vino, a perfect way to enjoy seafood at its best with superb service too!
Last day of service for 2022 is 21 December before Argoe closes until 2 Feb 2023. Then from 2 Feb 2023 onwards – Sunday & Monday closed, Tuesday – Thursday 5.30pm – 10 pm and Friday & Saturday 12-4 pm / 5.30pm – 10pm – Last seatings are 2pm for lunch and 8pm for dinner.
If you have had enjoyed a bracing beach walk over at Marazion or Long Rock, both huge expanses of beach adjoining and heading either up to Marazion or down to Penzance or have visited the amazing St Michaels Mount and are feeling peckish or thirsty when only a pint will do, then head to the fabulous Mexico Inn, just a 15 min drive from St Ives, a superb family friendly pub with a real locals feel and presence and visitors alike, which has been a cornerstone for over 200 years, tucked away behind the seafront and beach at Long Rock, it’s brilliant!
A warm and cosy atmosphere with a log burner going greets you on arrival in the winter months or during the warmer months make the most of the incredibly well designed and throughout beer garden to the rear of the pub with the recent addition of an outdoor wood fired pizza shack where delicious homemade woodfired pizzas can be enjoyed in the sunny rear terrace which like the rest of the pub is very family and dog friendly! Tom and Amy the pub’s owners, clearly food fanatics, have been running the Mexico since 2015 after having many other prestigious positions either travelling the world or nearby, have now clearly put their stamp on The Mexico using fresh local produce.
The Mexico Inn is well run with a very inviting friendly atmosphere and is always buzzing when many other pubs are cold and quiet. There’s always something on the go whether a live band , curry night or superb all day Sunday Roast, a summer pizza on the terrace….or just a pint with your four-legged friend, the Mexico Inn caters for all!
Such a good menu, ever changing and having enjoyed so many meals there its hard not to keep returning! Some of our favourites are the heavenly brisket and ale burger, Traditional Newlyn market fish and chips, slow cooked pork belly & crackling with mash and autumn squash risotto and of course the Sunday roast is to die for and served 12-9pm, how very civilised. A fab selection of ales, lagers, wines and a comprehensive list of Gins including the very local Caspyn gin made just around the corner at The Pocket full of stones distillery, Penzance.
Its always lovely to be on holiday and to get out and explore is even better if you have some good recommendations! If you want to come on holiday to St Ives Cornwall and get ‘out and about’ and explore, then why not stay at one of our beautiful cosy fisherman’s cottages, romantic studios for two, a luxury sea view apartment or large family house! Family friendly, couples friendly , dog friendly or just with friends, we have something to suit all at Cherished Cottages.
Author Tim Petersen 6/12/2022