Restaurant Nathan Outlaw ** – Port Isaac (UK)

Great dishes, stunning views and bustling service.
But this eponymous seafood restaurant left us with an unsatisfied feeling.

Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is located in Port Isaac, a very picturesque fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall that you might recognise as the setting of old TV favourite Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes. It’s a 15 minute drive from the posh seaside resort of Rock and Padstow. The restaurant has incredible views from its dining room over the stunning coastline which surrounds Port Isaac.

At age 18 Nathan Outlaw moved to London to work under Peter Kromberg at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel. And later worked for both Gary Rhodes and Eric Chavot before setting his sights further afield. He moved to Cornwall to work for Rick Stein at the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. It was here that Nathan formed two relationships that would shape his future; he met his wife, Rachel, and first began working with fish and seafood. After working at a few more restaurants, Nathan opened his first solo venture, The Black Pig in Rock, in May 2003 and was awarded with his first Michelin Star just 7 months later. His eponymous restaurant Nathan Outlaw followed in 2006, first at the Marina Villa Hotel in Fowey and two years later at the St Enedoc Hotel in Rock, were a seafood bar and grill were added..

In addition to this eponymous flagship, which resettled in the picturesque village of Port Isaac in 2015, Nathan runs the Michelin-starred Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in the same town and since earlier this month Siren, the new restaurant at The Goring Hotel in London
He previously had a restaurant in Dubai: Nathan Outlaw at Al Maraha (now closed), as well as The Mariners Rock (earlier this year taken over by Paul Ainsworth) and Outlaw’s at The Capital (now closed).

Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is the only Michelin starred seafood restaurant in the UK. Besides the two Michelin stars, the restaurant also holds four rosettes from the AA and a rare ten out of ten rating from the Good Food Guide, who also declared it the number one restaurant in the country in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is open for dinner on Wednesday to Saturday and for lunch on Thursday to Saturday. No à la carte menu here, but one set seafood menu for lunch and dinner at £140 per person. A set first and main course and two options to choose from for the second course and dessert.

We had dinner two weeks ago on a Friday. Regarding the second course and dessert, I had the first and Joanne the second option, so we could sample the complete menu.

Amuse Bouches

From left to right: Choux Pastry with Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Salt Cod Brandade and Red Pepper Marmelade Tart, Raw Scallops with Pickled Cucumber and Chilli. All three of them were just great in their own way. The scallops so fresh and bright with the cucumber, the light choux pastry and the tart pastry nice and flaky with a hint of fennel. Loved them all.

Amuse Bouches

As Joanne doesn’t eat cold or raw fish, she got an adjusted version of my amuse bouches. Choux Pastry with Cream Cheese and Aged Davidstow Cheddar. Crispy Cod with Paprika Mayonnaisse, Seared Scallops with Pickled Cucumber and Chilli. Great start with these beautiful palette pleasers.

Bread & Seaweed Butter

Homemade Rosemary and Cornish Sea Salt Bread, with the texture and taste of a beautiful focaccia. The Seaweed butter is dangerous stuff. We finished two of these!

Port Isaac Lobster Salad, Lemon and Garlic

Beautiful fresh lobster, light mayonnaise, baby gem lettuce and new potatoes. Lovely lemon and garlic lobster dressing.  Bit of dill and chervil. So delicate and light but full of the flavours from the sea. 

Bass, Fennel, Broad Beans and Spider Crab Sauce

Bass juicy and flaky. The spider crab sauce is to die for. Creamy deep flavour happiness. The fennel even lifts the taste together with some meatiness from the broad beans. 

Red Mullet, Basil and Kohlrabi

Red mullet beautifully prepared again. Nice skin as well. Basil mayo is so smooth and full of finesse. Love the kohlrabi with the mullet. Slice of pickled kohlrabi nice and refreshing. 

Turbot, Smoked Hollandaise, Cauliflower and Hazelnut Butter

Turbot is a really meaty fish of course. The bold flavour of the hazelnut butter went really well with that. But it was almost to much and it really needed the smoked hollandaise with clarified butter to keep it interesting. Everything together, the dish was well balanced and harmonious, but nothing outstanding about this one.

Choux Pastry & Potato Fritters.

Love these fritters. Smooth filling with the choux pastry combined with potato.

Dessert wines

We didn’t have the wine pairing, but made our own choice from the wine list. Before dessert we were contemplating if we would have a dessert wine. But before we made a choice, the most friendly female waiter presented us with 3 glasses and suggested to do a little tasting of dessert wines and said we could always order a full glass afterwards of the one we liked. We were pleasantly surprised by this, until we saw the 3 half glasses listed on the bill….
I didn’t even argue as she didn’t specifically say the tasting was complementary, but it definitely left a fishy aftertaste (pardon the pun).

Strawberry and Elderflower Custard

Baked custard is excellent. Firm yet velvety. The elderflower ever so delicate and together with the flaky pastry and strawberry ice cream, just divine!

Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwich

The sugar snaps with the ice cream really work. Tangy raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries. Another excellent dessert. 

Ginger Nut Biscuits & Brandy Truffles

No grand display of mignardises with our coffee like we had the week before at Restaurant Basiliek, but a nice spicy ginger biscuit and and tasty brandy truffle (I hope you sense the disappointment here…).

A weird one this, as I am left with an unsatisfied feeling. Something is missing, but what? I can’t fault the restaurant’s location and setting as the views are stunning and I like the atmosphere inside. It wasn’t the friendly, attentive and bustling service, which made the evening very enjoyable.

I’m afraid it was the food. Not that there was something wrong with it, not at all! They were great dishes. But I expected three, out of this world, fish courses, but in the end it was just lobster, red mullet and turbot.
For 4 courses it was underwhelming and overpriced. Mind you, 18 months ago they served a 7-course tasting menu for £125 here. And compared to other tasting menu’s we’ve had, this one just doesn’t meet the expectations.
I also struggle to justify a two Michelin Star level. Definitely star level, but I’m afraid we’ve had better experiences at restaurants with two stars, or even one star.