24 hours in fabulous Fowey and a stay at The Old Quay House
So, you fancy a trip to the Cornish coast, you love the sound of a small town sitting on the water’s edge, brimming with boats, boutique art shops and the best seafood around. If you’ve heard of Fowey but you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, read on to find out why this could be the destination for you.
A destination on the south coast, famous for its glorious location on the water’s edge and a place which inspired Daphne Du Maurier to write and live here for many years, Fowey is a place I thoroughly enjoy returning to. Although I would recommend a trip in spring or summer – the aquarium and all shops will be open, and a trip out on the water would be available and highly recommended – my short winter weekend break was delightful as it was, made all the better by a stay at The Old Quay House.
I visited the 16th century St Catherine’s Castle ruins, which sits in a prominent position, a short walk from the town centre. It offers some amazing views and I took pleasure in standing there and imagining all that took place high up on the hill. On your way to the castle you’ll spot some great views of the village of Polruan across the water, Readymoney Cove and also the end (or start!) of the Saints Way walk, a 27-mile route joining Padstow on the north coast to Fowey on the south. In fact a little research will quickly inform you that there are quite the selection of walks to partake in around the area, the Hall Walk across the water from Polruan to Boddinick or around the coast to Gribbin Head. It’s certainly worth reading up before you go. There are also many water sport and activities to partake in, the Fowey museum to visit and find out all about the town’s medieval history’s well as a nice selection of places to indulge in a bite to eat or something in liquid form!
The wintry gales and rain took hold so my walk quickly turned into a lunch with a few drinks. I spotted Pintxo and was so glad I ventured in. The Spanish-inspired eatery offers a varied selection of hot and cold small plates, which are brought out whenever they are ready. Try the Manchego cheese with orange blossom honey, spider crab and saffron croquetas and patatas bravas – they were delicious.
I had ventured out and was pleased I had experienced a little more of Fowey than on previous visits but, really, I wanted to return to the comfort of my abode for the evening, The Old Quay House.
Siting right on the water and, therefore, offering some of the best views that Fowey has to offer, the 4 star hotel is a welcoming, smartly-decorated and comfortable place to stay. The hotel, in a Victorian building, holds 13 luxurious bedrooms, some with double aspect views of the estuary and balconies, and all with modern features and large, comfortable beds.
My room was decorated with white walls and bedding, which gave the room and clean fresh feel, while light blinds in the large windows and a light grey carpet softened the look. A large wardrobe, chest of drawers, desk and bedside tables were matching blue/grey with light wood tops, while two large pebble button headboards offered a feature on the back wall. Chunky comfy chairs were a relaxing place to sit and the grey, modern bathroom had everything required. It’s the little extras that stand out for me, such as earplugs, an umbrella and raincoats and there was an espresso machine and a TV with a DVD library on the first floor.
The Old Quay House may not be very big but it can hold events such as meetings, weddings and private parties for up to 38 guests seated in the restaurant, and it is certainly worth taking a look at the packages on offer including the gardens package, which includes a stay, dinner, and transport to Eden and Heligan Gardens with a guided tour.
FOOD AND DRINK
A meal at Q restaurant at The Old Quay House should not be missed. Seasonal, local food is prepared in simple but delicious ways by head chef Richard Massey, and the ever-changing menu ensures that you’re getting the best that’s on offer.
I enjoyed a dinner here but, before my meal, I found a spot in the relaxing bar to sip on a Sea Mist cocktail. Comprised of Salcombe Gin, grapefruit and tonic with a mist created with an atomiser, this was a tasty aperitif in the light, comfortable setting. The relaxing atmosphere continued through to the restaurant, helped by dimmed lighting and soft, instrumental jazz tinkling through the speakers. The room had a wall of windows and patio doors leading to a terrace to dine on in warmer months, and offering lovely views of the water and Polruan in lighter hours. A wood floor held chunky wood tables and comfy dark grey chairs offering a nice throne for the evening.
At the table my guest and I were brought out a selection of tasty appetisers including sourdough bread, a warm ham croquette with apple purée and apple, spiced popcorn, kalamata olives and smoked haddock and chive tartlets.
My starter of duck ballotine with apple looked very appealing – the duck was tender and piled on top were thin and crispy onion pieces and apple matchsticks, which added a differing texture along with a purée. The gentle flavours were lacking some punch, perhaps something pickled would have added a bit of oomph. A sip or two of Chenin Blanc was nicely matched here.
I opted for the red wine braised beef blade with carrot, horseradish and burnt onion for my main course and I loved the rough and tender texture of the meat as well as the tasty shallot flavour and the crispy-topped potato gratin. I’m a big fan of carrots and a purée and chunk of the vegetable did not disappoint. The simple presentation did nothing to deter from the fact that this was a beautifully light and tasty dish.
Desserts were shared between my dinner guest and I – I was pleased to be able to sample both the pear dish and the cheese board. The pear plate had it all – a sweet, caramel, crispy base, thinly sliced crunchy pear, a sharp sorbet and a caramel mousse to bring all flavours and textures together nicely. It was a really good dessert. This was followed with a selection of three cheeses – Brie, Cheddar and a blue – which were served in a shallow bowl with crackers, grapes, celery, a chutney, walnuts and apple slices to pick at. Cheese never disappoints!
Breakfast the next day was also a success, especially as I chose the cooked Cornish breakfast, which was delicious and set me up very well for the day. The plate consisted of good quality foods and the right amount of each item including a sausage, sliced potato, beans, mushrooms, hog’s pudding, black pudding, bacon, egg and tomato – the full works. There was also a good selection of fruit, pastries, juices and cereals too.
IN A NUTSHELL
If you’re looking for a Cornish getaway by the water that encompasses a small town feel but is bustling in the summer, Fowey could be the place for you – it always is for me.
Address: 28 Fore St, Fowey PL23 1AQ
Phone: 01726 833302
Image at the very top of the article credit: David Griffen