Muddy Eats: Argoe, Newlyn
One of Cornwall's newest restaurant openings and sustainable to boot, serving up fish straight off the boat and onto the table - Muddy headed to Argoe in Newlyn to check it out.
Ex-Rochelle Canteen chef Ben Coombs has teamed up with Newlyn fishmonger, Richard Adams, to create a waterside fish restaurant where the fish literally comes off the boats and into the kitchen.
Newlyn has been slowly gaining legs as a foodie destination over the past few years, and Argoe’s opening in the summer of 2021 has cemented this little fishing village’s credentials. Just along the waterfront from Penzance, Newlyn is on the edge of Mount’s Bay with views across to Penzance, and Argoe occupies an unpretentious wooden structure right on the water’s edge. Look straight out the big glass windows and you’ve views across the marina – look the other way and you can see the commercial fishing port right next door.
Richard conceived the Forgotten Fish project (“Nose to tail fish supplier, offering unused, unknown and underrated cuts”) and in Argoe he has the opportunity to put his fish on the table, all cooked in a menu under the care of Ben Coombs, mainly on a wood fired grill using charcoal. Natural and biodynamic wine from Lovetts (the wine bar just a few paces away up the road) complements the menu, and the local ethos.
With tables inside and out, the vibe is clean and simple, letting the food do the talking. When we visited shortly after the restaurant opened in the summer, the sun streamed in and the windows were open, with diners eating on the deck outside too.
The sparse settings and Danish style tables will appeal to local foodies and holiday makers alike – indeed, some of our fellow diners were locals, others clearly down to Cornwall for some well deserved time off.
Ben and Richard were both in the kitchen when we visited and both full of fish knowledge – which delighted my small son, who loves nothing better than a bit of fish chat. Staff were friendly and service was efficient (despite it being early days and everyone still finding their feet) but this is definitely a restaurant run to their image, and they won’t be changing.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
The menu changes daily and seasonally to reflect the fish being caught and landed at the commercial fishing port next door, and really does champion a whole lot of unknown and underrated fishes. Ben was previously Head Chef at Rochelle Canteen in London’s Arnold Circus (co-owned by Margot Henderson, wife of St John founder Fergus Henderson – another nose to tail restaurant) and used to be a favourite of ours when we lived in London, so we were excited to see what Ben would be cooking harbourside.
The stand out dish for me was the whole grilled megrim (or Cornish Sole as some fancier places have renamed this underrated and some say rather ugly flat fish), served alongside potatoes and salad, although the scallops we had first were also pretty awesome.
Expertly cooked, beautifully served, this was proper share at the table food – no pretence, just great fish. The natural wine (by the glass or bottle, and some ‘on tap’ too, just to up the sustainable credentials) was well chosen and went well with the food, as well as just being enjoyable to quaff on a summer’s day off by the water.
OUT AND ABOUT
A great location for a day out – we followed our lunch with a whizz round some art galleries. The Newlyn Art Gallery and Exchange is just down the water front in the Penzance direction, and in Newlyn itself there is the Jupiter Gallery which has been hosting a series of week long pop ups. Head into Penzance itself for shopping. Nearby but worth jumping in the car for you’ll find the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens (below) as well as the National Trust’s Trengwainton Garden.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Fish fans, foodies, and those who like to try new things. The menu is deliberately championing unusual and sometimes unheard of fish dishes, and some may find that challenging. Those that do get stuck in will be rewarded handsomely – it’s one of the best meals we ate this summer.
Not for: Fans of old-fashioned fancy service won’t find that here. The prices reflect the skill of the chefs, but the vibe may be too laid-back and casual for traditionalists, and the wine list is the same. Kids are welcome but not pandered to in terms of a separate menu, so if yours only eat their fish in breadcrumbs, you may find they struggle.
The damage: Sides from £4, smaller dishes from £7/8 up to £30-36 for the whole fishes, which serve several people. Fairly priced but it still adds up – this is not somewhere to try on the last day before pay day.
Argoe, The Strand, Newlyn, TR18 5HW
winter hours – open Weds to Sun, lunch only on Sundays, booking essential