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A taste of the tide

With an ethos centred on providing fresh, local and sustainable seafood, Hooked on the Rocks is in prime position to offer a true taste of Cornwall with an ocean view to match. Words by Rosie Cattrell.

Situated up on the rocks of Swanpool beach, with direct access down onto the sand, Hooked on the Rocks’ view over the bay is a hard one to beat. In warmer weather visitors to the renowned restaurant can be found basking in the sun overlooking the azure, turquoise waters, and when it rains, taking shelter inside to watch the mesmerising waves as they crest and fall, keeping a keen eye out for seals. Pairing sea views with seafood, of which the shellfish is caught in the bay itself, here is an establishment that holds a love for local food and a passion for flavour at it’s very centre. 

Having been at Hooked on the Rocks for seven years, starting his career here as Junior Sous, Jack Frame has seen multiple promotions lead him to Head Chef status in November 2021. With a love and skill for fish cookery to rival the very best, his passion is what drives the food to be as local and delicious as it is. “I fell into my first role in a kitchen and worked hard to develop myself into the chef I am today,” he explains. “As soon as I worked with fish, I knew it was what I wanted my speciality to be, and growing up in Cornwall with access to the incredible local fish markets has proven to be the perfect place to develop this specialism. Here at Hooked on the Rocks, we want to showcase local, sustainable fish and shellfish in a simple format that allows the seafood to excel, experimenting with spins on classic dishes to create original, fun and tasty food.”

With seasonality at the fore when it comes to food, the menus at Hooked on the Rocks change on a monthly basis to ensure that only the very best produce is being utilised, on which Jack kindly elaborates: “For instance, it’s currently asparagus season, so at the moment we have an incredible dish showcasing Cornish asparagus alongside Falmouth Bay white crab meat and a St Ewe’s crispy hens’ egg. As a predominantly seafood-oriented restaurant, the fish markets play a massive part in what’s on the menu. Our suppliers will let us know what’s available at Newlyn Fish Market on a daily basis which we then use to design the ‘market fish’ section of our menu that day. We also use local fisherman like Ned Bailey for our lobster and crabs, and George and Katie at Mylor Fish Shop for our scallops. Our ethos is simple – if they don’t catch anything, it’s not on our menu. We believe in sustainability and locality, so we never stray from our trusted suppliers. We are a member of the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide too, which means we take their sustainability ratings into account when designing menus to make sure we are only ordering in sustainable fish.”

“We have spent the last year growing our kitchen team and are so pleased with our new recruits,” adds Katie Hemmings, General Manager at Hooked on the Rocks. “Ashley Harrison and Jake Fisher, whom are Sous Chef and Junior Sous respectively, have brought even more skill, drive and fun to the kitchen. With these three leading the way, we are really excited to see what new and exciting plans we can make for the future, and you can definitely see this already in the quality and originality of the dishes that are coming out of the kitchen.”

Some of this season’s highlights included the ray-wing schnitzel with whiskey-spiked fish peppercorn sauce,  the cuttlefish and chorizo ragu and the roasted market fish on the bone, with creativity shining through in every bite. The team also continue to get rave reviews on their staples, like the Falmouth Bay scallops with garlic and herb butter and seaweed pangrattato, and the wild shell-on prawns with nduja butter. And who could forget the local Cornish oysters (from either Porthilly or Mylor Creek) offered fresh with a Falmouth gin and tonic granita or grilled with a seaweed butter. 

“And it’s not just our food that we think about,” Katie continues, “our drinks list also has the same core values. From our local beers and spirits to non-alcoholic tipples made using Cornish botanicals and water. We want to support local as much as we can, and Cornwall has some exceptional offerings. You can also see this in our wine list, where we are very proud to work only with small family producers, practicing sustainable viticulture.”

With a determination to make sure that every customer has the best time, whether they’re there to have a drink at the outdoor Seahorse Bar, or a meal in the main restaurant, it all starts with the warmest welcome. Providing a first-rate level of service in a laid-back and approachable way, it’s comes as no surprise that the team were finalists for the Best Front of House Team at the 2023 Trencherman’s awards. “We are very lucky with the front of house staff we have here,” says Katie, “they are all so friendly and hardworking – we make a great team together and with the kitchen too, and I think that really shines across to customers”

Perched along the way on the coast path from Falmouth to Maenporth, Hooked on the Rocks is a perfect spot to stop along the way, or to spend the evening watching the sun go down, on which Katie reflects with a smile: “When the sun is out and you have some fresh oysters or scallops in front of you with a cold glass of rosé, you could quite literally be anywhere in the world – it’s just beautiful and we are so lucky to have this spot.” It’s in places like this that you may well discover a whole new level of appreciation for the local Cornish produce on your plate, especially when you’re overlooking the sparkling sea from where it was caught.

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