Falmouth’s university means there’s a really vibrant, eclectic range of restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes, from students to locals to tourists.What’s more, the town has just been voted as the best place to live in the UK.
The Star and Garter
Pub, British, Pub Grub, $$$
Easily the best place in town if you’re looking for something relaxed and easy-going, but still want really great food, not to mention a jaw dropping view across the bay. Elliot and Becca Thompson’s smart but homely pub offers a range of modern European-style dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, and with a former chef from Jamie’s Fifteen restaurants, there’s normally always a cracking fresh pasta dish on the menu too. Sunday lunch is taken extremely seriously; think sirloin of beef, leg of lamb or roast pork with all the trimmings, supplied by renowned Cornish butcher Phillip Warren. Things get looser on Dirty Monday’s, when the food is American-style barbecue, wings, ribs and brews, all chowed down to live music from local bands. If you fancy staying over, there’s two beautifully appointed apartments to rent via Airbnb above the pub (one with a Green Egg barbecue in the kitchen!). Finally, look out for Olive the dog, normally snuggling down in front of the roaring fireplace, by the bar.
No website, no social media, they don’t even take cards so you might want to dig out your chequebook. The Wheelhouse is about as off grid as a restaurant can get these days. What it lacks in modern conveniences, it more than makes up for on their vintage plates; namely, spankingly fresh seafood, simply cooked. Owner Tina Hopton meets fisherman Timmy Bailey off his boat literally outside the back door of the restaurant, and what ever he’s caught, she cooks and sells. Lobsters and crabs are up on a board listed by weight, and crossed out when they’re gone. Prawns, mussels and oysters make up the rest of the menu. Sides include sourdough bread and oil, or a bowl of crispy fries; while the wine list is just a good white, a good red, or a fizz if you’re celebrating. Perhaps the most charming thing is that a mini cocktail comes with the bill, free of charge. With around 20 seats it’s always busy, so booking well in advance is advised.
Wildebeest is Falmouth’s only veggie/vegan bar and cafe, but wears its animal-friendly credentials lightly. The cooking on offer globe-hops around cuisines, selecting the best naturally meat-free dishes. So think pillowy homemade Italian gnocchi with chestnut mushrooms, right through to Vietnamese sweet potato and smoked tofu rice paper rolls with peanut sauce. Puds include a warm chocolate and almond brownie with an almond butter drizzle, Cornish sea salt and soya cream, or a range of ice creams or sorbets.
Housed in what was Falmouth’s old customs house, this popular laid-back West Country-via-Italy diner offers pizzas, pies and a large range of ciders, only from the West Country. If you want to sample the cider selection, they’re available as a flight of five in 1/3 pint (190ml) glasses. Kick things off with one of their boards, featuring Cornish cured meats and cheeses. Then tuck into a West Country-made pie with herb-roasted potatoes, a pickled onion, and chutney. There’s always a changing special on the menu too, depending on what’s in season and the time of year, as well as a separate vegan menu. If you’re sat outside on the quay, pay attention to the ‘King’s Pipe’, this chimney on the side of the building, was where illegal tobacco and other contraband was burned.
You can’t visit the seaside without having fish and chips, and though Rick Stein has opened up a chippy in the new Maritime House development, Harbour Lights remains the firm favourite amongst locals. Its sustainable approach to sourcing fish, as well as its family friendly atmosphere, won it the best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year 2017. If you’re watching your waistline, the option to have your fish grilled rather than battered, and with salad rather than chips, is available.
Positioned on Falmouth’s famous Gyllyngvase Beach, and overlooked by the imposing Pendennis Castle, the Gylly Beach Cafe has panoramic views of the Lizard Peninsula and the Helford River. By day it’s a welcoming cafe, offering breakfasts for early birds, such as homemade granola, right up to the full Cornish. Lunch starts at noon, with a range of popular dishes that have a strong, Cornish influence, such as roasted mackerel and squid burger, or whole grilled Cornish sole with caper salsa. In the evening, things get more substantial, with dishes such as confit chicken leg. Take particular note of the bread, as it’s all baked in the new glass-fronted ‘bakery on the beach’ next door.
After a spell in London at the likes of the Dorchester, Ken Symonds swapped The Smoke for the seashore in 2009, bringing a fine dining vibe to Falmouth. The menu is either al la carte or £45 for the seven course tasting menu (£75 with wine flights) which is good value. Like many places in town there’s also a bespoke vegetarian menu. As well as working with local suppliers, Ken and the team also call on the services of three foragers, covering the shore, the fields, and woodlands.
Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, British, Vegetarian, $$$
Open morning, noon and night Fuel helps start your day with a range of hearty cooked breakfasts including fluffy banana pancakes (add bacon, you know you want to), eggs Benedict, or Kedgeree. Lunch and evening offerings include a range of nibbles and sharing sides, to burgers, salads, soups, and comfort dishes. The drinks menu includes plenty of local Cornish beers, ales and ciders, alongside a good wine list and range of cocktails.