With half-term coming up, what better time to enjoy a meal at one of Cornwall’s finest family-friendly eateries on the beach?
Despite the unsophisticated table manners of my rambunctious children, I enjoy eating out as a family. I don’t want to rock up to restaurants where children are simply tolerated if the grown-ups are forking out enough, and I don’t want to be relegated to cheap and cheerful chain restaurants. Thankfully the opening of The Stable, bang on Cornwall’s most famous surfing beach, is testimony to the fact that the county’s foodie scene is embracing families. Here you can enjoy the finest local ingredients, innovative menus, sea views and a family-friendly formula – at a reasonable price too.
As soon as you walk into The Stable – be it with sand between your toes and surfboards left at the door, or scrubbed up after your beach adventures – you can’t fault the immediate family welcome. There’s heaps of space to park buggies under the eaves, grab highchairs if you need them, help yourself to drinking water if you’ve come off the beach thirsty, and take a pew at one of the wooden benches overlooking the sea. There’s baby changing in the loos and kids menus come with crayons and a picture to colour in, so within minutes my wild things were absorbed in their doodling, leaving us to peruse the menu.
In addition to the dozen pizzas (themed according to nearby landmarks and local flavours, no less), there are five hearty pies and a couple of salads to choose from, so ordering isn’t really that baffling. After all, who needs reams of dishes to choose from when the kids, the view and the speciality ciders are demanding your attention? I went straight for the pizza of the month – a ricotta and crème fraiche base topped with veal and sage meatballs, field mushrooms, roasted leeks, mozzarella and ham – before turning my attention to the speciality ciders on offer.
Not knowing our way around the numerous tipples on tap, we went for the cider tasting board of five guest ciders. The ciders on offer are constantly changing, but like everything else that is served at The Stable, they are all sourced from small, West Country suppliers. Working our way from dry to sweet – I favoured Devon’s Ashridge Gold, while my cider-guzzling other half preferred a more medium-sweet Polgoon Traditional – we both re-discovered a love of the rustic brew we too often sidestep for staple beer and wine.
When the food did arrive (which must’ve been quite promptly because the children were still in their seats), it was faultless. We already knew the local origin of the flavours, from the organic sourdough pizza bases and Cornish cheeses, to Cornish-reared meats and farm-fresh veg, but it was the innovative combinations (such as lamb, goats cheese and sweet potato pizza) and pure taste factor that won us over. I only managed to wrestle a forkful of ham pie and couple of wedges from the other half, while he deftly devoured slices of my veal, sage and ham topped special from under my nose. The children, meanwhile, polished off Hawaiian and West Country Porker pizzas in true porky-kid style.
Despite being stuffed to the brim, the puddings were so delicious that we could’ve eaten them twice. The children literally inhaled enormous portions of chocolate brownie and apple crumble, while we fought over a portion of the apple and ginger cheesecake – me winning the lion’s share this time, while the boyfriend was distracted by ordering more cider at the bar.
As if the empty plates and choruses of ‘I love it here’ weren’t enough of a tribute to The Stable’s triumph, the tidy tab of around £50 for our whopping family meal only secured its success in our ratings. When so many of Cornwall’s eateries whack on a hefty price tag for the privilege of a seaside location and local food, it’s a relief to find somewhere affordable and casual that’s bang on the beach. Here the kids menus (Cornish apple juice, salad bites, pizza and pudding) are £10, pizzas £8.50 – £13.50, pies £9 (served with wedges and salad) and the cider tasting board £7.50.
While the boys continued doodling and the boyfriend swilled more cider, I pondered the smashing sea views over Fistral beach: Couples strolled along the shore, surfers paddled out into the waves and dogs chased their balls into the white-water. Being within stone-skimming distance of the sand, we lugged our pizza-filled bellies onto the beach to join them, the boys running off their enormous puddings and rolling down the giant sand dunes until sunset.
The Stable, Fistral Beach, Headland Road, Newquay, TR7 1HY
Food: noon – 9.30pm. Drinks: noon – 11.30pm