Hotel Review: Talland Bay Hotel, Porthallow, near Looe in Cornwall
When I think of Cornwall my mind conjures up images of fishing villages, vast sandy beaches and holiday food, whether it be chocolate coated fudge from Padstow, fish and chips from Looe or a pasty from Polperro, I’ve had them all and I want them again. On the other side of the coin are the more refined eateries and hotel restaurants offering the most delicious seafood only a county covered in 400 miles of coastline can possibly offer.
Talland Bay Hotel near Looe is one of these hotels and a food lover’s haven with a 2AA Rosette restaurant (one of the more superior 2 AA rosette level eateries I have dined at) and conservatory brasserie.
My guest, Nick, and I were treated to two dinners in the Terrace restaurant, the hotel’s fine dining eatery, and both enjoyed every course that came our way. Each night there was a different amuse bouche and pre dessert, which we thought was a nice touch and there were plenty of tantalising options to choose from.
The décor was smart with dark wood panelling covering some of the walls, while others were painted a soft light truffle and one wall consisted of doors leading out to the outdoor area with views to the water. Colourful artwork rested everywhere, while beams and low lighting finished the room. We were seated on high backed chairs covered in a soft pink and pearl coloured fabric but they didn’t fit under the table so leaning forward to eat wasn’t all that comfortable!
Starters that we indulged in were the scallops, pork belly and beetroot – all were mouthwatering, beautifully presented and oh-so moreish, I had to force myself to not have the scallops for the second night – the dish was gorgeous! The juicy scallops had a crisp outer and were expertly paired with a warming taramasalata purée and fresh apple chunks with thin crispy pieces of focaccia croutons to complete it – a tasty and sumptuous plate of food! Admittedly I’m glad I tried something different the next night as I would never have discovered the beautiful roasted beetroot tarte tatin otherwise. Served with Vulscombe goat’s cheese, candied walnuts and celery cress, this had all of the right flavours and textures for me (smooth, punchy cheese, delicate pastry and sweet, soft beetroot) and was one that I couldn’t fault – 10 out of 10! Nick was incredibly happy with his Cornish cider pork belly served with a hogs and black pudding terrine, parsnip, smoked apple and granola. He said the pork was moist and the combination of elements, presentation of which and the variations of flavour and texture was fantastic, and I had to agree.
Our main courses consisted of beef, sea bass and lamb (Nick’s beef on the first night made me certain I was going to order it the next!) and the artful way the ingredients were laid on the plate mirrored the starters, if not, had been improved upon.
My wild sea bass was accompanied by smoked bacon, caramelised cauliflower, confit potato, caper and toasted almonds. Somehow the fish was juicy but with the thickest layer of crispiness imaginable and topped with a layer of crunchy flaked almonds. You couldn’t get more texture on there and, coupled with some lovely flavours, this was a very nice plate of food. The West Country beef plate consisted of roasted sirloin, Mena Dhu Stout glazed short rib, potato terrine, chicory, carrots, star anise and pickled walnuts and was big in flavour and size! A sweet carrot purée freshened up the rich gravy and gorgeous thinly layered truffle potato, while the glazed rib fell apart with its tenderness. Delicious. Nick said his lamb (Cornish lamb – roasted loin with glazed shank pudding, potato tuile, charred onion, salsify and salsa verde) was beautifully cooked, being full in flavour, and described the dish as ‘a real celebration of Cornish lamb.’
Desserts included a Cornish apple plate, glazed rice pudding, a baked duck egg custard, cheese plate and finally a delightful Talland Bay chocolate bar with bitter chocolate mousse, hazelnut praline and nougatine wafer, which we both tucked into. It looked simple on the plate but had a lovely surprise inside the bar, which had a crisp outer with ice cream atop a layer of caramel inside. This dessert was a chocoholics dream! We both shared a cheese plate after this and loved the Cornish selection and accompaniments of red grapes, celery, jelly, chutney and crisp thin crackers.
Two happy customers; we thought each plate contained great flavours, good quality ingredients, were big portions and were well constructed. We also noticed that it was busy with non residents coming for the food so it must have a good reputation locally and I urge locals to visit that don’t already, it’s well worth it!
The Brasserie is set in the conservatory and serves up delights like seafood, steaks, burger, fish and chips, mussels and lamb shank as well as desserts and breakfast for guests. Breakfast was minimal but tasty – I had porridge with honey, while Nick had bacon with scrambled eggs – to be honest, we were both quite full from dinner the night before!
As well as good food, the hotel oozes character and is very dog oriented with paintings of pooches in smart dress gracing the walls of the resident’s lounge. Each four legged guest is also welcomed with a blanket, bag of treats, feeding mat and bowl and can join their owner in the brasserie for meals. In fact, Cornwall as a whole is a very dog friendly place with plenty of eateries and beaches welcoming man’s best friend so you can all enjoy a trip away.
We enjoyed a two night stay in a superior sea view room and waking up to a view of the water beyond the flat gardens and grand, chunky trees was something we could definitely live with! Cream walls and bedroom furniture were the ideal base for the flashes of red in the velvet two seater sofa and bed cushions. Red and cream striped fabric on the headboard matched the thick curtains, which lined the two windows and did a good job of keeping the light out in the mornings. There was a dressing table, wardrobe, chest of drawers, TV, lighthouse lamps on the bedside tables and colourful art on the walls. The bathroom was modern with dark copper tiles covering the walls and a white bath, loo, sink, and cabinet with a walk in shower. The bed was very comfortable, we both had a good night’s sleep but were woken a little earlier than had hoped by a dog barking in the room below.
While there we took a couple of trips to Looe, which is less than a ten minute drive and offers a large amount of bakeries, eateries, a beach, harbour, amusements and walks. Nearer the hotel we wandered down the hill to the rocky beach nearby and attempted a walk to Polperro along the coast path – well worth the short one and a quarter mile stroll. We also spent plenty of time chilling at the hotel in our airy room and at the bar, either with a cup of tea in the afternoon or specially made cocktail before dinner. In the bar you can admire the colourful range of contemporary artwork hanging on the soft blue walls as well as the sculptures dotted about. Soft low red velvet chairs and striped armchairs sit around round dark wood tables while a pair of very comfortable zebra print sofas sit at the far end. The vibe of Talland Bay Hotel is comfort with fun elements and upmarket and stylish, but not at all stuffy – Nick and I had a lovely, relaxing stay here.
IN A NUTSHELL
The hotel with a view and great restaurant, Talland Bay Hotel offers a great stay for those foodies who love a stay-cation, throw your pooch in the mix and you’re set up for a perfect trip!
Address: Polperro Heritage Coast, Porthallow, Looe PL13 2JB
Phone: 01503 272667