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The eye of the beholder

Beauty in all its forms brings epicurean artistry to the shores of Carbis Bay, at Walter’s on The Beach.

Words by Hannah Tapping | Images by Kieran Brimson

Beachside eateries abound in Cornwall, but in recent years there has been a move away from the ubiquitous seaside fayre to culinary hot spots that embrace the senses in more ways than one. Doing away with coastal decorum in favour of flavour, flair and conviviality, Walter’s on The Beach embodies a welcome sophistication and glamour that has long been yearned for. Joining the Carbis Bay Estate’s stable of restaurants – The Beach Club, Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling, The Orangery and The Hungry Gannet, whose individual and unique offerings act as a uniting culinary thread– Walter’s is more experience than eatery.

It’s toes in the water position affords an al-fresco eating space with a vista that takes in a swathe of fine white sand, whose gentle curve culminates in craggy headlands. The waters of the bay are azure and reminiscent of more tropical climes – its oft-used portmanteau, Carbados, couldn’t be more appropriate. In keeping with a location that feels many miles from home, Walter’s is as effortlessly chic as it is eclectic. Floor-to-ceiling windows, parquet flooring and simple pendant lights are the canvas for an opulent interior palette of the deepest teal, softened with texture from gold velvet and green leather, and accented with a kaleidoscope of colour from a scatter of cushions and fabulous botanical murals.

In contrast, the terrace is paired back, taking its glamour from location alone – which is all that is needed when the ocean is within touching distance. The vibe is Ibiza-esque; the air filled with chatter over the gentle beat of cool music. It’s refreshing that Walter’s, while unreservedly glamorous, is a disrupter in its identity, being at once a cool cocktail bar, a luxurious long lunch location and a dramatic dinner venue. This is a place that invites getting dressed up; the click of a heel, the sweet smell of perfume combined with the salty sea air, the finest of fabrics caught by the ocean breeze are never out of place… but then neither are sandy toes and sun-kissed faces sipping cocktails on the promenade shaken by magical mixologists Frankie and Ionut.

Walter’s central dining bar is for all intents and purposes a drinks theatre, the likes of which wouldn’t be out of place in any cosmopolitan city. Delicate bubbles of smoke burst dramatically in front of your eyes while the crystal ice cubes are stamped with the Carbis Bay Estate brand. Attention to detail is always at the fore and here you can sip on cocktails that are regularly reviewed as the best this side of London. For the White Basil Smash, gin is infused with kaffir and basil, and expertly mixed with citrus, sugar cane and topped with a gin and tonic foam with kaffir. The Second Sour of the Day combines brandy, peach, vanilla syrup, citrus, orange, egg white and bitters. You get the picture… There’s nothing static about the cocktails here. Walter’s experienced and inventive bar tenders are continually developing the drinks menu using avant-garde techniques and interesting ingredients to create cocktails that are heady potions designed to delight all of the senses.

The list of barrel-aged cocktails is testament to the fact that experimentation here is embraced, not shied from – and perhaps a nod to the area’s history of piracy where contraband was most likely to have been landed on these very shores. The barrel ageing process helps to develop and enhance the flavours, creating a more refined blend of cocktail mix. Barrels are lined with port before the ageing process begins. The alcohol pulls out the flavours and colours from the oak, often adding a hint of vanilla, coconut, or marzipan and the timed process of oxygenation (which takes up to six months) marries the ingredients together perfectly, producing a refined harmonious pour.

There is no better way to enjoy each sip than with one (or indeed a few) of the elegant cocktail snacks on offer. These delicate amuse bouches explode with flavour – the Thai soup is exceptional as is the pork crackling – and raise the curtain on the first act of a menu devised by Carbis Bay’s executive chef Andrew Houghton. Internationally inspired dishes share a culinary home with British classics; Cornish Sardines, kipper ice-cream and enoki mushroom dashi come highly recommended on the list of starters as do pan-roasted scallops, spiced cauliflower couscous, kombu and chilli purée.

Seafood, as one would expect being so close to an ocean larder, abounds; butter-baked whole flat fish, potato, samphire and walnuts is delicious in its simplicity of flavour combination, while prime white fish, pancetta bourguignon, parmentier potatoes, leek ash and lemon gel is artistry on a plate. Desserts are eye candy personified and refreshingly honest. Date and walnut pudding is treated to a languid coating of toffee sauce or for something a little more refreshing (although the pudding is as light as air) a mango colada has tropical accompaniments of coconut sushi rice pudding and a coconut and Malibu mousse.

There is a real feeling of both celebration and adventure at Walter’s. The intelligent menu changes with the seasons in order to incorporate the freshest of ingredients and the exquisite, deep coloured dinnerware, along with the finest of glasses are as much part of the artistry as they are functional. To accompany lunch or dinner, the wine list is long and venerable. Those with a taste for champagne won’t be disappointed – Veuve Clicquot, 2009 Dom Pérignon and Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV all find a place – and of particular note is Walter’s exclusive collation of reds that herald from France’s most exclusive châteaux.

Sometimes, Walter’s adopts a cheekier side by taking its guests out on to the sand. Feast nights are a time for social dining on long tables, laden with food cooked over fire. The experience is elemental and shows that, while Walter’s is sincere about the quality of the food and drink it serves, it knows not to take itself too seriously. This is a culinary adventure, full of energy and passion, designed for all to enjoy.


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