Muddy Eats: The Lobster Shed
Drink in the sea views and scoff wood roasted fresh seafood and daily picked kitchen garden salads, all washed down with local beers, cider and fizz at laid-back outside eatery, The Lobster Shed.
Surely the chicest hotel opening on the North Coast of Cornwall this summer, The Pig Hotels have carved a niche in being classy without being stuffy, luxurious and yet laid-back, a masterclass in period property porn. They’re also partial to a piggy pun which of course we’d never boar you with.
The latest piggy in the litter opened this month, so of course we headed over for a sneaky peek and stayed for a cheeky lobster. Sadly I was driving, so no Camel… next time, for sure.
The Lobster Shed is the outdoor eating restaurant nestled in the wild flower meadows in front of the newest Pig hotel at Harlyn Bay, North Cornwall, which opened, finally, post lock-down at the end of July, serving up mainly, as you’d expect, lobsters and other seafood from the wood-fired ovens. (There’s another, (slightly) more formal option – well, it is inside, at least, as the Pig doesn’t really *do* formal – in the Panelled Dining Room and The Scullery, with a wider choice to eat).
Owned by Robin and Judy Hutson, founders of the Hotel du Vin chain, masteries of luxe hotels, or restaurants with rooms, these two select each venue and go the whole hog when it comes to feel and style. The Pig at Harlyn Bay is their seventh hotel and the opening has been eagerly anticipated for months (it was originally due to open the week lockdown happened).
The Lobster Shed is, as you’d expect if you’ve visited any other Pigs, laidback and stylish. Wooden feasting tables and more intimate terrace tables sit side by side under Sunbeam Jackie parasols, backed by the woodfired ovens and bar area, looking out through the wildflower meadows and dramatic coastline over Harlyn Bay.
As the sun drops, the tables catch the wonderful golden Cornish light – we debated whether it would be nicer to watch the sun drop after spending the afternoon in the gardens or surfing on the beach below. Either way, despite the whole of the UK and their families staycationing in the Duchy at the moment, the rest of the world and its inhabitants seemed a million miles away from this remote Cornish landscape.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
Lobster, obvs. Or you could choose crab rarebit, steak or veggies off the BBQ, but lobster is really where it’s at, being The Lobster Shed and all.
All the Pigs subscribe to the idea that the produce served should be local – ideally grown in the hotel’s kitchen gardens or, if not, locally sourced within twenty five-miles. So, the lobsters are Padstow Lobsters, the best in Cornwall, pretty much straight out of the sea in front of the hotel and onto your plate – within 3 miles probably, let alone 25. For each lobster sold, £1 is donated to The National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow’s lobster charity.
The classic option is deliciously simple – wood-fired lobster with forager’s butter, served with chips. Make it a Lobster & Camel by adding a glass of the local fizz, Camel Valley. If you fancy a more decadent dining experience than straight up lobster, can that really exist? Yes, that too is possible. Try the Harlyn lobster – wood-fired and covered in aged Cornish gouda (among the finest cheeses Cornwall has to offer, produced by the awesome Giel and his family, just down the road on the south coast near Looe) which creates a lobstery sauce in which to dip your chips. Both were cooked to absolute perfection, which is not easy either over fire or when covered in sauce. If you geek out over food – and ovens – you might like this video showing how the lobsters are prepared).
Should you have any room left, which if you give yourself a little pause to finish your wine and enjoy the view you might just acquire, pudding comes in the form of old fashioned ice-cream sundaes, proper crowd pleasing ice cream, brownies, wafers (and sprinkles and whipped cream if you get the knickerbocker glory) served up in tall glasses.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
The team at the Pig always creates heavenly luxe spaces which are laid back and not formal and The Lobster Shed is just beautiful. It’s classy without feeling aloof and the food was among the best meals we’ve had in Cornwall.
Good For: Anyone who loves food and cares about good seafood. It also makes a laid-back romantic summer dinner option, a brill place for lunch with the fam (of all generations) or just somewhere to enjoy a chilled glass of rose as the afternoon fades and the sun sets. You can also bring your dog (just not into the rest of the hotel).
Not For: Traditionalists for whom posh means linen tablecloths or object to their fellow diners wearing flip-flips. Or those who prefer to eat inside – pack a jumper! The Lobster Shed is open all weathers except for high winds, so dress accordingly.
The Damage: £££ – Lobsters are pricy wherever you eat them, so £44 for a whole one skews the average price upwards somewhat – other mains are between £12 and £18 plus sides extra.
The Lobster Shed, The Pig at Harlyn Bay
Opening hours update for 2021: Brunch 10am- 11.30am All Day Dining 12pm – 8.45pm, opens 12 April
0345 225 9494
The Lobster Shed and the restaurant inside are both open to non-residents, pre-booking advised, some tables available for walk-ins for The Lobster Shed.
Use the separate side-drive for The Lobster Shed carpark, rather than heading straight up to the front of the hotel.