Needy of Number 6 in Padstow writes …
Greedy Girl really wanted to like Number 6 in Padstow. Having seen the very personable chef Paul Ainsworth on Great British Menu and his whimsical ‘fairground’ assembly of desserts, she and gluttonous husband wended their way through the quaint streets of this seaside Cornish town with a spring in their step and high hopes.
The restaurant is housed in a converted terrace house with two small rooms downstairs abutting the kitchen and another dining area upstairs. The rooms are light, bright and very, very crowded. Only one other table was occupied on arrival but on departure we needed to crab walk our way to the door.
Number 6 prides itself on cocktails. Greedy Girl’s eyes lit up when she spied ‘margarita’ on the menu. Excitedly she asked the waiter: ‘is the margarita frozen?’, a question that elicited an aghast look and an indignant ‘not at all – they’re fresh’. Hmmm. Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband exchanged sideways glances.
Not to give up, she tried to explain exactly what a ‘frozen margarita’ was. Waiter nodded and said, yes, they could prepare it that way. When it arrived, it looked like a pretty standard margarita. Oddly enough, the salt crust was only on one side of the glass. Greedy Girl shrugged and sipped. Worst. Margarita. Ever. It tasted only of one thing – alcohol. Greedy Girl resorted to squeezing the accompanying wedge of lime into the glass.
Anyway, we weren’t there for the booze. We ordered starters and mains – Number 6 does not offer a tasting menu and given gluttonous husband had been a pupil at Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School that day and eaten his way through five dishes he’d prepared, that was just fine by him.
Before the starters arrived was a very welcome basket of bread. Two loaves each, one pumpernickel and one a white high top. The pumpernickel, although a bit sweet on its own, was perfect with an unusual accompaniment, smoked cod roe blended into a creamy mousse, topped with flecks of pork crackling. The white bread was delicious with home made Cornish butter.
Starters were excellent. Greedy Girl had Cornish duck, described on the menu as ‘peking leg, duck heart brochette, spring onion and radish’. A duck consomme was served on the side. Poured over the dish, the tender meat immediately sucked it up. Delicious.
Gluttonous husband opted for ‘goose and pickles’ – goose liver parfait was served with a variety of pickled veggies, including cauliflower and cucumber. It was light and the vegies added a refreshing note to what can often be a very rich dish.
We’d taken a few bites when the wait staff wanted to know if we were enjoying our starters. We were. Shortly thereafter, when the plates had been cleared, the wait staff wanted to know if we had enjoyed our starters. We did.
Mains were gilt head bream for Greedy Girl, served with an extraordinary potted shrimp butter, Cornish new potatoes and purple broccoli. A large fillet of fish with crispy skin had a strong flavour. Greedy Girl ate as much as she could and then handed it over to gluttonous husband in a pre-determined manoevure.
Gluttonous husband ordered Galloway fillet of beef and ox cheek. It was served with a charred leek (that worked well with the ox cheek), horseradish-laced mashed potato and shallot rings and a red wine sauce.
We’d taken a few bites when the wait staff wanted to know if we were enjoying our mains. We were. Shortly thereafter, when the plates had been cleared, the wait staff wanted to know if we had enjoyed our mains. We did.
We opted to share a dessert called ‘chocolate cake’. The cake was actually pistachio and almond and a weird dark green colour. It desperately needed a touch of citrus to lift it. The chocolate components were provided through a bitter sorbet and a chocolate mousse cake in which a hot caramel syrup had been poured.
We’d taken a few bites when the wait staff wanted to know if we were enjoying our dessert. We were. Shortly thereafter, when the plate had been cleared, the wait staff wanted to know if we had enjoyed our dessert. We did.
Such a sustained level of enquiry had gone well beyond eliciting feedback about the food – it was designed clearly to reinforce what the front of house team felt about it. Greedy Girl wanted to nitpick just to have something that would deflate the puffed-up egos.
As gluttonous husband sipped his glass of French sauternes, he asked for the bill. The waiter told him he would ‘allow’ husband to enjoy his wine before he brought the bill. So there. Finish your wine first – I’m not going to tell you again.
Paul Ainsworth is obviously a very talented chef. The dishes are flavourful and presented with imagination and flair. Out of 10, Greedy Girl rated the food a very solid 7.5. The service? A two. Waiter neediness – who needs it?
With thanks to Number 6 in Padstow for the use of the image.
Paul Ainsworth at Number 6
6 Middle Street, Padstow