The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Cornwall Edition

Muddy loves: The Lifebuoy Café, Fowey

21 Mar 2016

I’d heard great things about the quirky The Lifebuoy Café, so on birthday Wednesday, we hit it on our jolly to Fowey. The place is so goddamned gorgeous I just had to share. Such a giver me.

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The ferry from Boddinick – a laugh, but quite pricey (£4) for the less than 1 minute journey.

We love the bold and the brave here at Muddy Stilettos and owners Cathy and Mike (who also own Lazy Jacks Kitchen in town) are just that. After many happy holidays in and around Fowey, they saw The Lifebuoy Café for sale. Just like that, they decided to sell up in Richmond and take over the former greasy spoon. Six years later, their breakfast is literally a national icon: The Lifebuoy Café was named among the best places in Britain to enjoy breakfast twice over, according to Esquire magazine (Jan 2015, Jan 2016).

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Here’s Cathy – isn’t she lovely?

I got excited even before we opened the door because you know when a place just has the ‘it’ factor without seemingly any effort – it just does.

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Decor-wise there’s a ‘kitsch 1970s my-husband-is-a-sailor tea room’ vibe going on (if that’s a vibe) with mismatched wooden pew-chairs and tables, nauticalia, shelves of objet d’art, and oodles of vintage touches. It had a simple charm, bags of personality and felt warm and welcoming. I felt right at home. With just 20 covers, it cant help but be cozy.

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Fowey Gallants were the local branch of pirates, back in the day, now adopted by the local sailing club.

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kids are kept amused by the books and games at the tables

The café has a famous breakfast club menu that doesn’t stop at 11 (they are sensible and flexible like that) so there’s no need to go all Michael Douglas – Cathy obvs believes breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it is served until 12. Try their famous full Cornish breakfast, The Fatbuoy – classic fry-up plus Cornish hog’s pudding, the local sausage celèbre.

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The FATBUOY

The menu is pleasantly uncomplicated but clever, with a daily Bagel offering, soup du jour and other favourites like crab cakes and savoury Cornish teas. Cathy is single handedly bringing sexy back to black pudding  – its one of the most frequently requested bagel choices.

IMG_3074You order at your table, which makes a nice change from queuing up at a till and forgetting your table number (just me??).

XQ7rqz9RAn how about this? A Cornish CHOCOLATE cream tea. Yes you heard me. Two scones, Green & Blacks organic chocolate hazelnut spread, clotted cream and pot of tea. They’ve been offering this little beauty since the first summer they opened, at the request of one of their young customers. I don’t want to go home!

Food miles wise, they are credentialed up to the eyeballs, supporting many local businesses: sausages, hogs pudding and cold meat are supplied by the town butcher Kittows. Bread is collected every morning from Niles, the town bakery. Their crab is caught locally in Cornish waters, and veg comes from local farms.
The staff are friendly and charming, and the place was jammed with locals when we visited (on a Wednesday in March) – an absolute winner.

Get yourself there and let me know if you manage that Fatbuoy breakfast (respect if you do).

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: locals, families, casual diners, drop-ins. Take-away lunches. Perfect for a lazy breakfast, World Famous In Fowey™ crab sandwich with a friend, coffee (Mr MC had the best macchiato) and cake with the mums and kids after school… any excuse really.

Not for: its a tiny space, with just 20 covers, If you sit as a singleton on the big table, expect strangers to sit with you when the other tables are full. No room for buggies but wheelchairs are welcome. Not for lovers of minimalism. Outside dining is a no-no – there’s no garden. Can get very busy in summer, with customers queuing out the door.

£££: exceptional value. The FatBuoy is just £7.95

Try it for your self and see. Food served 9am – 4pm.

The Lifebuoy Café, 8 Lostwithiel St, Fowey, PL23 1BD  07715075869

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Cornwall Edition