Words by Hannah Tapping
Taking its inspiration from sea, land and shore, the Bay Hotel’s Hevva restaurant offers British modern cuisine with Cornish produce at its heart.
Stroll past The Bay Hotel in Coverack and you would be forgiven for thinking you were on the French riviera. With its elevated position above the bay, the perfectly manicured terraced lawns lead down to a lane which is all that separates you from the sea wall and the turquoise waters of the beach below. The soft chink of glasses and murmur of gentle conversation float on the breeze from couples relaxing on steamer chairs beneath the palms. This is interspersed with the chatter of contented children from the beach at low tide as they forage in the rockpools and build castles in the sand.
The location is unique. The village of Coverack remains a local’s stronghold, with a thriving community year-round. Its working harbour and small fleet of fishing boats can be seen landing its catch across the water from the hotel, while on summer days the bay offers calm sanctuary for passing yachts and is a blue-water haven for swimmers, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders.
Nearby Meers beach, just a short walk away, is secluded and peaceful, revealing golden sands at low tide and in the shoulder months – this is a year-round escape, Coverack is as beautiful in its winter cloak as it is in summer – the South West Coast Path is on the doorstep for wild clifftop walks followed by warming evenings in front of the hotel’s open fire.
The Bay has a lovely circular history, straight out of a romantic novel. It was established in 1928, built by the great-grandad of the now assistant manager. It remained in the ownership of said family until the late 80s, and the current, private owner also has a family connection in that his mother honeymooned at The Bay years before he bought it. The understated elegance of the 14 bedrooms is matched only by their exquisite views across the water, vistas shared by the lounge and the dining room. Here, pre-dinner drinks can be sipped at the bar before enjoying a menu that centres around locally sourced produce.
Those looking for a little more independence can enjoy a self-catering stay in the hotel’s new Sea Pod, with its own garden, well-equipped kitchen, bathroom and large double-bedroom. The Bay even has its own Wellness Room. Tucked away in the hotel gardens, this delightful day-spa, which of course comes with a sea view, allows troubles and cares to ebb away on the tide.
The Bay’s restaurant Hevva, is named for the rousing cry of the huers whose job it was to watch for the tell-tale signs of pilchard shoals. Once spotted by Coverack’s own huer, the shout of “hevva, hevva’” [here they are!] would alert the villagers to the fish’s arrival so that they could launch the boats. Fitting then that the menu here features fish and shellfish in abundance, much of it sourced from Coverack’s local fishing fleet and the very waters beneath the hotel. Lobsters and Cornish king crab, couldn’t be fresher, supplied by Lou who lives just next door – finer and fresher ingredients you won’t find. Local hake, line-caught mackerel and Fal oysters all grace the dinner menu, which is carefully curated for seasonality.
No Cornish restaurant should neglect the excellent meat available in the Duchy and Hevva is no exception. Beef comes from nearby Boscarnon Farm, where grass-fed cows feast on the lush pastures above Coverack, grazing whilst breathing in the salty air that blows over them from the sea. Small producers are championed throughout the dishes, with food miles reduced to mere footsteps and everyone benefitting from direct sales. Smoked fish and game come from Celtic Fish and Game, a family run business from St Ives. Fish is sourced from local markets, while additional seasonal game comes from some of Cornwall’s finest estates.
Desserts have a Mediterranean inspiration – a blackberry millefeuille, a lemon verbena panna cotta – but who needs to travel when blue skies, azure seas and gentle breezes can all be felt while enjoying dinner on the terrace at Hevva? Ice-cream, that quintessentially Cornish sweet treat, travels only a couple of miles from parlour to plate. Gwella Dairy luxury Cornish ice-cream was a three-times Taste of the West Gold award winner last year for its artisan ice-cream, made from the rich milk of the farm’s Pedigree Jersey herd. Philip Warren, Cornish butchers since 1880, ensure a Hevva breakfast is hearty, while Cornico coffee, a small-batch roastery from north Cornwall, means the day’s first caffeine hit is one that is both delicious and sustainable. All of Cornico’s brand coffee is zero waste; fresh coffee beans are delivered to the hotel and then the spent grounds, collected in the packaging they came in, are recycled into coffee fuel. Tea drinkers are treated to brews from Tregothnan, whose Cornish creekside tea plantations make them the only tea producer growing tea in England.
Newly appointed Head Chef, Daniel Bowden is returning to his Cornish roots. After finishing his professional chef diploma in Plymouth he spent some time in Sweden and later worked his way up to Sous Chef for Michael Caines at the Coach House, Kentisbury Grange Hotel in Devon. More recently, Daniel has been Head Chef at Berwick Lodge Hotel in Bristol but wanting to settle back in the Duchy is now delighted to be joining the Bay Hotel. His food offering at Hevva will be fine dining but without the fuss.
Dishes will be allowed to let the ingredients speak for themselves and all are enjoyed with a level of service matched only by the view! Stay and dine packages offer excellent value when you consider the level of the foodie offering coupled with The Bay’s amazing location.
It’s as if you have happened upon a secret world. You won’t find the crowds here that are synonymous with Cornwall’s high-season hot spots. The village has retained an authenticity, something unique in modern times, and offers it up with grace to all those who visit. Coverack’s peninsula location means that only the most discerning and those ‘in the know’ take the trouble to come here. As you leave the grassland of Goonhilly Downs behind you and wind down the steep road into the village, the scene that opens up in front of you is simply breathtaking. Even though you might be on holiday here, it feels like home. It’s a place to relax, take a breath and unwind.