Muddy eats: lunch at The Shore, Penzance
If reports in the national press are true – that Penzance is emerging as the new gourmet capital of Cornwall – then Bruce Rennie deserves more than a nod for his part in that evolution.
Bruce has a knock-out CV, previously head chef at the award winning Gurnard’s Head, he has chef’ed at some of the best restaurants in the country, including Michelin starred Wishart’s in Edinburgh, Michelin starred Shanks in Northern Ireland, and for Gary Rhodes (he even helped research his book!) and local chap Rick Stein. The Shore in Alverton Street is his first venture as chef-owner, and its doing very well.
Occupying the old Penzance Buttery, a stroll from the town centre, The Shore is fresh, welcoming and bang up to date stylish, without being over trendy. It specialises in fish but is also very good at veggie options and meat, and has a thoughtfully chosen wine list. There’s a wonderful feeling of being in an city restaurant, but without the premium or pretension. I remember hot panic stepping inside a similar celebrity chef’s restaurant feeling a bit under done and uncomfortable. And poor. There’s none of that here. And not only that, Bruce is the only one in the kitchen – there’s no kitchen minions slaving away while he takes the credit – Bruce does everything.
The service was impeccable, we were greeted and seated by the front of house staff and settled in with drinks. Service runs with military precision – the flow is controlled by staggering the bookings in 15 minute slots, allowing staff to shower each table with the appropriate attention. Service is backed up by the food – lunch menus are exceptionally reasonable prix fixe, commendably modest and crafted using the best ingredients available on that day. As you would expect, locally sourced fish from Newlyn market, and produce from local farmers – my main came with Bruce’s own home grown carrots – such a quirky touch.
Needing to dash back for the school run, we ate early on a Friday lunchtime. The day we visited was a miserably wet day in February so I wasn’t expecting the place to be heaving. The room was quietish, but there were other covers, and it is a small enough setting to create an atmosphere easily, even if it’s not packed.
Sourdough bread to nibble on while we waited. I had the super smooth curried parsnip soup, Mr MC was blown away by the cured pollack – with pickled fennel
Mains – an awesome fish stew with saffron potatoes, and the morvah chicken, with chana dal and Bruce’s endearingly wonky carrots.
We shared the dark chocolate delice for desert – a blow-your-head-off intensity chocolate hit balanced with a superb blood orange sorbet which was the perfect palette cleanser.
I had the sense that Penzance is yet to wake up to the fabulous food being served here. WAKE UP People! Its such a gem. That said, with Bruce’s attention to detail shining through in each course and service to match I don’t think it will long before this little restaurant is on everyone’s hot list. It’s a fantastic addition to Penzance, offering something very special in an area not overly spoilt for this quality at such a great price.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Foodies, fish lovers, casual but elegant dining, work/ client lunches – service runs like clockwork and you can be in and out within the hour. If I worked in Penzance, The Shore would be a contender for my end of week lunch choice.
Large parties need to book, but don’t need to pay room hire, and with an impressive menu make it an attractive proposition for work do’s.
Not for: Small children (well I wouldn’t take mine, they’re way too picky); those looking for mega choice or requests off menu. Those looking for outside dinning – there’s no garden. Sunday to Wednesday diners – sorry folks – tis closed at the mo.
£££: Exceptional value. You get way more than you pay for here in my opinion, and would likely pay 50% more up country. A three course lunch is only £19.50; Dinner, none of the mains are more than £20. My spies rave about the ox cheek dopiaza (£18.50) btw.
The Shore, 13/14 Alverton Street, Penzance, TR18 2QP. Tel: 01736 362444 Winter opening times: Lunch: Thursday to Saturday 12-2pm; Dinner: Thursday 7-9pm, Friday and Saturday 6:30-9pm.