Naming a restaurant after a ship-wreck may have been a bit of a risk, but owner and head chef Grant Nethercott knows a thing or two about making his restaurant a success. The Michelin-trained Chef established the Alba in 2002 in the former Lifeboat House on the edge of the Wharf.
Enjoying panoramic views of the harbour from its floor to ceiling windows, the Alba has been serving customers for more than a decade and in 2012 had a makeover to change its ground floor into a hip bar serving small plates and the latest seaside inspired cocktails. (It does have Tarquins Gin so I am happy)
The upstairs restaurant oozes sophistication with a menu and well thought out wine list to match. The cuisine is modern British, but with definitely French and other worldwide influences evident in most dishes. The signature dish if the chef will excuse me from labelling it such is undoubtedly the pan-fried fillet of seabass, served with forestiere potatoes, confit chicken, calvo nero (kale), girolles (chanterelle mushrooms), chicken jus, and black truffle oil but there is a range of other dishes from Cornish fillet of beef, pot roasted carver duck and roasted fillet of cod.
There’s an early evening three course lunch or early evening menu providing great value at £21.50 or £18.50 for two courses and the restaurant includes a children’s menu too for smaller appetites.
I dined recently with two girlfriends (February 2016). We were seated at the main window seat in the upstairs and even thought it was evening and raining outside our view switched regularly from the gorgeous food and the spectacular harbour setting.
I chose a seafood plate boasting small bites of seafood dishes and delicate dressings – ideal if like me you are always torn between three or four menu choices for your entrée. I indulged my love of seafood further with the Crab linguine which with a small hint of chilli was a very tasty choice perfectly served on lovely white porcelain.
I finished off with my choice of cheeses selected in a Cornish brie and a cheddar. The overall evening was excellent in terms of relaxed atmosphere, excellent service, cuisine and that essential St Ives hit of harbour views. Highly recommended for couples, families with children who appreciate good food, dinner with friends. For booking and details see: www.alba-stives.co.uk
Having undergone a makeover from its previous guise as the Ocean Grill with new owners and a new menu reminiscent of its sister restaurant on the beach, I was really keen to visit the Porthminster Kitchen. I had watched its transformation via social media right up to opening night and was keen to give its new menu a try. I got the opportunity to visit in February 2016 on a business/leisure break with friends.
The restaurant itself has had a very tasteful refurb and feels much more spacious, airy and modern. And there’s a view straight into the kitchen too to see the hardworking chef at work.
Executive Chef Michael Smith of Porthminster Beach Café fame is supported by head chef, South African born, Lee Wilson. Having stripped away gluten and dairy from many of the plates, the menu boasts a range of smaller dishes with fresh flavours, lots of light options all made with fresh local ingredients.
As I visited on a Sunday I was however drawn in by the fabulous Sunday lunch menu. I opted for the pan fried baby squid which is served stuffed with herbs with a lemon zest and Boquerone (English white anchovy). It was cooked to perfection and delightfully light and tasty.
Having overdosed on seafood all week I opted for a Sunday roast of Lamb and what a dish that was. At £11.50 it was truly excellent value too. It was served with all the usual trimmings and lots extra too. For a restaurant that boasts small plates, the roast of the day isn’t and that is not a criticism as much of it is fresh vegetables. The lamb came complete with a tasty mint gravy and of course fabulous roast potatoes.
I didn’t have room for desert but will be back again for a return visit very soon. For bookings and details see www.porthminster.kitchen
The Tea Room in the Evening – It seems a little unfair to say we discovered the Tea Room in the Evening almost by accident as it has been open for a couple of years when we first dined, but that is exactly what happened.
Enjoying a lovely position on the Harbour towards Smeatons Pier, the Tea Room is regularly full during the day of people enjoying their range of platters, tarts, sandwiches, cream teas and the odd alcoholic beverage.
But during the summer evenings it transforms into a small but perfectly form restaurant with around 20 covers featuring a daily specials menu. Based on a much quieter side of the harbour – in the evening that is – the Tea Room is an ideal place to admire the harbour views across to Porthminster and savour the atmosphere which enjoying lovely dishes too.
The fantastic waiter Tim – who runs a very smooth and professional front of house – came to the rescue of me and my friend one summers even when, if I am honest, we were looking a little bedraggled after a day at the beach with our children who were still intent on jumping off the pier for the next hour or so.
We were actually staying out of town and couldn’t nip back and change, but we were there around 5.30pm just before the early evening sitting, Taking pity on us, Tim seated us outside on a mild summer’s evening even though we didn’t have a booking. He needed the table back for an early evening reservation so offered us an hour’s respite from the pier from which to observe our older children splashing and playing with the seals while we ate a lovely chef cooked fish supper accompanied by a much appreciated glass of white wine!
He talked me and my friend through the menu and we chose our two fish dishes and sat eating the fabulous seafood overlooking the harbour, close enough to keep a watchful eye on our charges.
I chose the cod which was served with a crisp herbed topping, baby tomatoes, potato gnocchi and a crayfish and crab sauce. It was absolutely exquisite and perfect for our setting.
I’ve dined there since by candlelight with my husband and I hope to be back there again this summer. (Review from August 2015). For more information and bookings see thetearoomstives.com