The Llawnroc Hotel in the Press | The Blue Tomato

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The Blue Tomato – London’s Premier Restaurant and Food Guide

As much as Blue Tomato enjoys its loving relationship with this fair city, we sometimes feel that the pressures of London life can get a little too much to handle and deem it necessary to have a quick fling with the countryside; so, with a peck on the cheek to The Big Smoke, we packed our bags and headed off for a brief affair with Cornwall. The village that we had in mind for our trip was Gorran Haven, an idyllic little cluster of cottages and holiday homes resting on the seafront below St Austell, a place in England where everybody is still greeted with a smile and you can get change from a tenner on a round of drinks at the local pub. London, this ain’t.

The Llawnroc is a boutique hotel that overlooks Gorren Haven but wouldn’t look out of place in Sloane Square, such is its palatial décor and fastidious approach to the cleanliness of the bistro’s interior. As we take our booth in the bar area, we order a brace of Mojitos from the friendly and personable waiter; unfortunately, we must have stuttered over the ‘M’ and asked for a ‘No-jito’ as the cocktails arrive sans rum. Still, they are very refreshing and our taste buds are enlivened, ready to do battle with what awaits us in the restaurant. A platter of olives is served with particularly soft, thickly cut homemade bread as well as a plate of feta cheese cubes, which are more than enough to fortify us until our meals arrive.

The two starters are impressive, both in their culinary prowess and their enormous size; the ‘mackerel’ is actually the whole fish, grilled with a sprinkling of salt and herb atop its crisped skin, and is accompanied by a sweet and tangy rhubarb compote that delivers a surprising but welcome chilli kick. The three scallops are ornately presented on top of their shells with an oriental-esque salad beneath them and are perfectly tender to the bite; the battered strips of pork belly are a little too much though and they serve to overpower the fragile taste of the shellfish rather than complement it. The accompanying wine is particularly notable, a French Sauvignon Blanc that had an initial fruity sweetness that gave way to a light, dry finish.

We abandon a sizeable proportion of our starters in order to leave room for our mains; this is a wise move, as the size of the pork belly alone seems enough to put a significant dent in world hunger. The meat is fairly tender and it has a crisped skin that has thinly diced chorizo glazed on top of it; this is an innovative move and its meaty consistency would be enough to satisfy even the most avid carnivore. The rosemary-seasoned potatoes are cut into wedges and are truly delicious, leaving us wishing that there were more room in our impoverished city-diet stomachs for this bowl of ‘posh chips’. A Chilean Pinot Noir offers pleasant liquid respite to all of this solid digestion, its smoky infusion of black pepper notes and chocolate undertones complementing the pork’s earthy flavour. The pan seared sea bass fillet is well crisped with a simple seasoning of citrus and garlic and lies on top of a chilli and lime linguine that could quite easily serve as a decent dish on its own.

With our ever-expanding waistlines cowering in fear at the prospect of a full dessert, we opt for a scoop of ‘Mojito sorbet’, which tastes like saccharine bubblegum but cleanses the palate fairly well; when asked which brandy the waiter would recommend, we are given a pair of Martells that help aid the digestion of our mammoth but enjoyable meal.

As extra-marital dalliances go, our time was very enjoyable; our host was very accommodating, incredibly giving and offered a beautiful alternative panoramic aesthetic to London’s greyish landscape. However, once we’d fought our way back through the soot and the smog it was pleasant to be back home where we could begin looking forward to our next affair.