Nicola Smith tries a six-course tasting menu at the Greenbank Hotel 

It feels quite magical to sit sipping a delectable Cornish Negroni in the Water’s Edge Bar as we watch the sinking sun tease the horizon over Falmouth Bay. The Greenbank Hotel is one of Falmouth’s – indeed Cornwall’s – treasures. Dating back beyond 1640, this beautiful labyrinthine building on the shores of the Penryn River has views to behold, and it is a fitting venue in which to tuck into a true Cornish feast. 

Head chef at the Greenbank’s Water’s Edge restaurant, Bobby Southworth is a local lad and self-taught chef who has worked his way up. It is not hard to see why. Last year he launched Bobby’s Taste of Cornwall, a series of events to showcase, not just the bounty of ingredients Cornwall has in its larder, but the skill and innovation of Bobby himself. 

It is why we find ourselves draining our cocktails before moving through to the sumptuous restaurant to enjoy our expertly crafted six-course tasting menu. We begin with Porthilly oysters teamed with pickled cucumber pearls, washed down with a glass of Cornwall’s lively Knightor Sparkling Brut.  

Bobby comes out to welcome us – just at home being showman as chef – making our convivial table of 16 feel like an intimate dinner party. We then nibble on smoked beetroot and Cornish brie bruschetta, a clever fusion of earthy and creamy flavours which works wonderfully. 

The amuse-bouche is perhaps the star of the show for me: a rich, punchy crab Cornish bisque. Testament to Bobby’s desire to minimise waste, it is made using a cast of crab shells, boiled down for three days to extract maximum flavour.  

Crowning the bisque is a beautiful, iridescent mackerel, lightly cured in Loveday gin, which hails from a small distillery in neighbouring Penryn (the brainchild of two chefs and a scientist, no less). The mackerel is then torched before elegantly adorning the bisque. It is almost too beautiful to disturb. But not quite.  

It is accompanied by a small savoury scone (“this is Cornwall, after all,” says Bobby), with a very indulgent lobster butter. What a treat. 

Greenbank sommelier Holly Bennetts has created a wine flight to send Bobby’s menu into orbit. We are presented with a glass of Quinson Côtes De Provence Rosé to match the scallops which appear soon afterwards, pan roasted with roasted cauliflower, naughty crispy chicken skin, pistachio praline and grapefruit. The grapefruit is an unusual addition that proves divisive among diners, but the rest of the dish is a triumph. 

As we watch the village of Flushing transformed into an array of pink sunset hues across the water, we are presented with a smooth glass of Growers Gate Cabernet Sauvignon. It accompanies the Cornish spring lamb rack, adorned with a tasty pea risotto and shallot rings. Another dish to savour. 

But just as we are wondering if the menu has shifted from slightly maverick to more traditional, a palate cleanser in the form of a beer shot and a beer sorbet arrives. Derived from Penryn’s own Verdant brewery, it is a lively, yeasty bullet of something otherworldly which, if unsure at first, soon wins over diners as the two marry together in a perfect punchy ale.  

As if we needed more, our feast is crowned with a delicate portion of Cornish cream tea that leaves the tongue singing with a sweet lightness. It is a perfect end to a memorable evening full of laughter and merriment, at the centre of which is an incredible banquet that exalts Cornish produce – and heralds another of the county’s culinary stars.  

Some diners, reluctant to tear themselves away from the delights of the Greenbank, make a night of it and retire to their rooms with a view. Others, like us, drift happily away into the Cornish night, contented, sated and vowing to return. 

Info 

Bobby’s Taste of Cornwall (six-course tasting menu) is £79pp plus £15pp for the wine flight. The Taste of Cornwall Escape, including bed and breakfast, is from £349. 

The next tasting events will be held on October 20 and November 17. 

www.greenbank-hotel.co.uk