The view from our table at The Mariners in Rock.
Okay everyone, try not to expire from shock, but... IT'S THE RETURN OF THE SUNDAY CHALLENGE!
I know, I know. I don't even remember what my last Sunday Challenge was, let alone how long it has been since I did one, but this week I'm actually back on track for a change. I wondered for a while as to what my first challenge in forever should actually be, but since I'm a foodie and since my dad had booked a table for lunch at The Mariners Public House in Rock today, I thought: "Why not try being a food critic?!" So here goes...
Newly opened in July, The Mariners sits overlooking the Camel Estuary in Rock. It's one of many dining establishments owned by Michelin starred chef Nathan Outlaw, so my expectations were high from the outset. Throughout the week, the pub offers a menu ranging from standard bar snacks (fish finger sandwiches and pork pies etc) to more substantial meals, such as pork schnitzel with fried duck egg. On a Sunday, the pub boasts a traditional lunch menu at a very reasonable price (especially for an area such as Rock, where prices can be high): £12.50 for one course, £17.50 for two courses and £22.50 if you can squeeze in all three courses. Lunch is served from 12 until 4:30 and we arrived at 12:30pm, having skipped breakfast in readiness...
We were offered a choice of tables by a very friendly waitress and opted to sit by the window to make the most of the beautiful views around Rock. I actually work not far down the road, but I rarely get a chance to admire the scenery, so it was lovely to take it all in.
We all decided to go for a starter, given that the menu was so appealing - it was almost impossible not to!
Soused herring with white cabbage, mustard and salad cream.
One thing you can rely on in Cornwall is an abundance of beautiful seafood, so it was no surprise that my dad went for the soused herring. It came with a delicate mustard-flavoured salad cream and white cabbage. The herring was so fresh and not overly pickled in any way that dad had no trouble polishing it off! Even mum, who's not usually a fan of herring, tried some and said it was delicious.
Mariners' Scotch egg.
Mum chose the Mariners' Scotch egg and actually gasped when it arrived at the table, because it just looked so good. The egg was perfectly cooked, with the yolks still soft. The sausage meat surrounding the egg was spiced beautifully, giving the whole thing a really deep, delicious flavour when you bit into it. And yes, I did demand a bite... The chutney served with it complimented the dish really well and mum was very happy with her choice.
Cauliflower soup with goat's cheese and crusty bread.
Meanwhile, I went for the cauliflower soup, served with crumbled goat's cheese. The soup itself was beautifully thick and creamy, with the simple, yet delicious taste of cauliflower shining through. The addition of goat's cheese was something of a master stroke; it's not a flavour combination I'd necessarily have thought of, but oh my goodness, does it work! The tang of the cheese perfectly complimented the delicate cauliflower, adding to the taste and yet not overshadowing it. It was all I could do to stop myself from licking the bowl...
Mum and I had both chosen roast beef for our main, whereas dad had gone for pork. The beef came with a lovely horseradish cream and a huge, fluffy Yorkshire pudding. Dad's pork was served with an apple and whiskey compote and of course, it came complete with some deliciously crispy crackling.
There were an array of vegetables on offer to accompany our roasts and they weren't your bog-standard limp carrots or overdone sprouts (and I say that as someone partial to an overdone sprout...). Instead, we had honey-glazed parsnips, which I'm told were beautiful (I'm not a parsnip fan, but I did sample the glaze!), as well as calabrese, carrots (cooked whole, with a stunning glaze on them), creamed leaks and cabbage with bacon and roast chestnuts. There was so much food on offer, we couldn't quite believe how generous the portions were!
The meat itself was beautiful; my beef absolutely melted in my mouth and dad was practically in raptures about how perfectly moist his pork was.
And then there were the potatoes... I don't know what magic they sprinkled on them, but they were so crispy on the outside, yet fluffy and light on the inside. Just perfect.
Being a Sharp's Brewery pub, there were plenty of local beers to choose from to wash your lunch down with and dad enjoyed a very refreshing pint. Mum and I stuck to soft drinks, but we were kept just as refreshed and offered top-ups by the attentive staff.
Having gorged ourselves on the mother of all Sunday roasts, we knew we couldn't manage puddings, which was a shame as the menu looked delicious! Maybe next time I'll skip a starter in the hope of saving room...
All in all, I was hugely impressed with The Mariners. The food was absolutely lovely and the staff were all very friendly, knowledgeable and conscientious. In fact, we enjoyed our lunch there so much, we've already booked our next visit!
If you're in the area and you'd like to check it out, you can call The Mariners to book a table on 01208 863679, or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's lots more info, plus sample menus available at their website.