What: Hearty but high end pub grub and seafood.
Where: Rock Rd, Rock, Cornwall.
How much: Small plates from £6, large plates £12-25, bar prices in keeping with local standards.
Menu highights: Grilled ray wing, oysters, scotch egg, pina colada dessert.
Overall: 10/10, thorough recommendation!
Bookings & Info: https://www.paul-ainsworth.co.uk/the-mariners/
The Mariners at Rock is something of a local foodie legend in this corner of Cornwall, joining the local power house family of restaurants by Paul and Emma Ainsworth earlier this year.
You will find The Mariners in the particularly picturesque mini-town of Rock on the north coast of Cornwall. This is the heart of British-Holilday-At-Home land, ideally placed for travellers of all sorts just a short drive from Wadebridge or Port Isaac, an appetite rising walk from surfers paradise Polzeath and a four quid foot ferry away from tourist hot spot Padstow. My first tip would be to make it there without a car if you possibly can, as the beer is great and parking in peak season can be an absolute bitch.
The Mariners is essentially a pub, albeit a sightly posh one with an instagram perfect backdrop of wide sands and sparkly estuary waters. There is probably no better place on earth to enjoy a cold pint on sunny day than their patio or balcony terrace seats but if you make it inside you will find familiarly dark, dare I say Old Mannish decor with bright brass fittings and ornate lights that one might well smack one’s head on if standing up too quickly. It’s classic, chunky and comfortable.
The menu is really what you make of it, with small plates, seafood and fresh fish specials backed up by some solid pub food with plenty of shouting about locally sourced produce. It’s no mean feat to offer a range of dishes to satisfy potentially all callers but they manage it here. On our visit for a large family meal the table saw a diversity of lunches from chicken curry to a Scotch egg ploughmans via oysters rockerfeller and a pork pie.
I’m going to take a moment on those oysters here. As a Colchester girl I’m not one for too much namby-pambying with oysters and will sing the praises of a Colchester Native to anyone who can’t get away from me fast enough to avoid it. But then, well. There was the Dorset oysters at The Mariners. Veritable monsters with a meaty, near on creamy texture that was mind blowing for this girl. Fan. Bloody. Tastic. And like no other oysters I’ve had, and yes the best I’ve ever had. I will be burned at the stake in my homestead for admitting this. Go for the house Rockerfeller style with herby pesto and grill blasted cheese if you must but they are absolutely perfect raw with the classic accompanying shallots and lemon juice, dished up on dramatic bowl of rubbery sewaeed. Amazing.
Dessert is something of an affair too, with fun colourful takes on classic offerings such as a pina colada and trifle with hundreds and thousands. Vegans aren’t left out with a full menu available and a superb sounding green apple sorbet which I now regret not ordering (alongside the apple and blackberry crumble I did have, which was mega).
Despite some cuteness with the menu (The Dog’s Pollock Hotdog and a dessert range simply listed as With Custard) and the beyond prime location there is a refreshing lack of pomp at The Mariners. If anywhere has a fairly solid base to be a bit pretentious about things then the Mariners surely does but it is simply not there. It’s comfortable and casual with friendly service and something truly for everyone. Extra points as unlike many other eateries of similar prestige they didn’t make a fuss about pre ordering for our large group, though this was for an off season weekday lunch. You can have a pint and a pork pie or a gloriously dry rosé accompanied by some truffle topped chunky chips, it’s a treat regardless of how far you take it and I suggest you take it if the opportunity arises. I just wish it wasn’t a seven hour drive from my house.