Words by Hannah Tapping
Sophisticated, yet unpretentious food served in the heart of a Cornish village.
Cornish Duck served with bubble and squeak croquette
Dating back to the 12th century, The Victoria Inn in Perranuthnoe has long had the reputation of being a foodie destination. Under new ownership, this renowned gastropub has recently been taken under the wing of Elodie and Neville, who are also at the helm of the much-acclaimed Ship Inn in Porthleven. The Vic, as it’s affectionately referred to by locals and visitors, can be found right in the heart of the village, resplendent in her coat of pink paint, and only a few hundred yards from the beach. In celebration of my young daughter’s birthday we had booked an early table. As we ducked down through the front door, we were enveloped into the cosy bar area, a woodburner creating a warm welcome, and tables laid with shining cutlery and gleaming glassware.
Not surprising for a Saturday night, and a sign that this is a popular destination dining venue, all of the tables were reserved. Dogs are allowed to accompany diners in the bar area but as we were canine-free we were shown to an attractive booth in the main restaurant. Decor is minimalist, think exposed stone and scrubbed wooden tables. Low beams in the restaurant add to the ambience, and we sat happily perusing our menus, taking it all in. The menu is small, but perfectly formed, something I am personally a great fan of; there’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed by too many choices and I find that fewer dishes often equals better quality. Our friendly waitress talked us through the two daily specials, a scallop gratin for starter or a whole fresh plaice for main. Tempting as they were, we eschewed a starter in the hope that we would have room for dessert. Both children were promised they would be allowed steak if it was on the menu, and luckily for them they weren’t disappointed. Cornish 28 day-hung ribeye served with hand-cut chips made for wide eyes of anticipation. My better half chose slow-roasted belly pork with apple purée, colcannon potato and intriguing black pudding scotch egg. I found it hard to make my selection as each dish sounded so delicious. Eventually, much to my fellow diners’ relief, I made my choice – breast of Cornish duck served with a bubble and squeak croquette, parsnip purée and seasonal vegetables.
The better half was definitely embracing the pub spirit and ordered a pint. Determined to embrace the sophistication, I opted for a glass of Le Fou Pinot Noir, and who wouldn’t be intrigued by a wine name that translates as The Madman! The first sip revealed delicious, rich aromas of cherries and ripe tannins, far from madness after all. We didn’t have to wait long until four stunning plates of food arrived at our table. The tableware in itself was beautiful, glazed with deep hues of blue and green. Our meals were carefully presented, each element complementing its neighbour. The steaks were succulent and full of flavour, and I couldn’t resist trying one of the chips which were the perfect combination of crisp outer and melt-in-the-mouth middle.
The pork was equally juicy, topped with a triumphant piece of crackling that I would happily have fought over, and the much anticipated black pudding scotch eggs were declared to be devilishly moreish. My duck was a delight and the croquettes an absolute taste sensation. Clean plates all round were testament to a very successful meal. We had saved ourselves for dessert and they did not disappoint. A warm chocolate brownie was devoured post-haste, with white chocolate and raspberry cheesecakes close behind. As ever, I couldn’t resist the selection of Cornish cheeses, tangy, crumbly and accompanied by a sweet homemade chutney.
The Vic is very much a pub, but with food at its heart. You can even stay the night in one of the cosy doubles, waking up to a Cornish breakfast and the smell of sea air.