Mevagissey Restaurants & Pubs Guide

Choosing where to eat when there’s such a range of options in Mevagissey but not all are equal is tricky. The following guide is a summary of in-depth online research of over 15,000 reviews into local eateries from 2020, as well as personal experience, critics reviews and word of mouth from locals. This is the most honest, in depth review of places to eat in Mevagissey on the internet. Soon you will have found a place that is just right…

The Salamander

Very locally sourced, delicious food. Expect perfectly cooked fish as well as delicious meat options. Most people order three course meals and you need to book in advance to guarantee a table as it’s normally fully booked in summer. The food is widely considered to be well-priced and good value. Local ales and Cornish wines are available. Dishes and flavours are well thought through and presented unpretentiously in beautiful, large portions. Reviewers mention homemade bread to start with baileys coffee and exceptional puddings to finish. The owners are thorough and perfectionistic. 

The restaurant itself is small and intimate, with tables close together. It is generally full, and has a more lively ambience when it is than when it isn’t. The restaurant is up an alley and can be a little tricky to find in the dark. You’ll be given a specific time to arrive. Service is not rushed despite being busy. 

Concerning Food Intolerances, your hosts have an excellent knowledge of gluten and other intolerances and will meet your needs. The Salamander does not allow dogs. The only animals allowed in the restaurant are fish. 

Number 5 

Number 5 was a Good Food Award winner in 2019. Expect very fresh fish and an excellent range of flavoursome dishes besides the fish and chips. People say the mussels are perfectly cooked, as are the vegetables options. Good coffee and scones are also served in the day time when the restaurant becomes a cafe. Situated in the village center right where the action is, it feels most ambient at night time. 

As for food intolerances, Number 5 has exceptional gluten free fish and chips and other options. Here’s what they say: “we always have homemade dairy free scones, gluten free scones, brownies and lemon and lime polenta cake available to our customers. Our homemade soup is always gluten free and we provide gluten free bread.  Our sauces are made with cornflour and we use a gluten free beer for our beer battered fish and chips. Lots of dishes are gluten free or can be gluten free so please ask when you place your order with us.” Is Number 5 Dog Friendly? No, assistance dogs only.

Fountain Inn 

Excellent choices for drinks, real ales and good local stout. You’ll certainly get a good feed as well, this is a cracking pub that’s popular with locals. 
This is the most attractive pub in Mevagissey, with the attractive greenery covering the outside. You might find you need to lower your head as you walk in because this is a cozy building with quaint low ceilings. The traditional interior is added to by the roaring fire, pictures of old Meva hanging from the walls, and a nice mix of locals with visitors. Reviewers comment on exemplary service and note that it can get busy in the evenings. What a cracking pub, oh yeah… Dogs are welcome as of 2020.

Sharksfin Bar & Restaurant 

G&T’s overlooking the harbour, sea food with french fry style chips. This is one of the best positioned restaurants in Mevagissey with harbour views and is ideal for a G&T before a walk up the harbour. Lovely staff, music, well spaced tables and a welcoming log fire.


French restaurant with a range of options, all with superb texture and flavours. The Creme brulee goes down well. Impeccable service, with good humour and a friendly attentiveness. 

Harbour Tavern

With an excellent view of the harbour, great seafood platters and accommodation for dietary preferences this is a good place to be on a summer evening for everyone. If you or your kids are fussy eaters this is also a good choice, because there are excellent pizza and burger options that nobody could say no to (if they do you’re next to the harbour and can easily throw them in!). 

Traditional Cornish Foods You Can’t Miss 

The vast majority of fresh fish caught in Cornwall are exported to Europe and even Asia. You can buy live Cornish Spider Crab in Shanghai fish markets. Most of Cornwall’s finest produce leaves the country because we Brits unfortunately don’t appreciate good food as much as, say the French or the Chinese. However, do not be dismayed because if you know where to look there are pockets of deliciousness all over Cornwall. 

Unsurprisingly, the traditional diet of people from Mevagissey over the last thousand years has been fish, and mainly pilchard. At one point in Mevagissey’s history, doctors noted that there were many complaints of stomach ache which could ultimately be traced back to a diet over dependent on oily fish. For the sake of the Cornish you’ll be pleased to know we did eat other foods as well, and some have become international successes. 

The Cornish Pasty 

Traditionally eaten by Cornish miners, the crust was designed to be held and later discarded as a way of protecting the pasty from dirty hands. The crust was then supposedly thrown to the pixies. The fact that it was so easy to believe in pixies goes to show how alien the underground world must seem. Clearly, the mine is not the dominion of men, so whose dominion is it? You may think you have already eaten a Cornish pasty, but if you bought it outside Cornwall it almost certainly was not one. Cornwall has the best pasties and every Cornishman eats one as soon as he returns home – it’s a known fact. If you discover mincemeat or gravy inside your pasty, wrap it inside two plastic bags and discard immediately. A pasty is essentially a crescent-shaped pie with a handle, made with small squares of potato, swede and beef. Back in the day, you’d be lucky to get beef as they were filled with leftovers and whatever you could get your hands on.

Cornish Yarg

Developed in the 1980’s based on a recipe from 1615, this is a cheese that has become synonymous with Cornwall. The cheese is of medium harness on the outside but slightly soft in the middle and is characteristically wrapped in an edible layer of mouldy stinging nettles. These nettles are applied by hand and are mildly acidic, which changes the way the outside of the cheese forms and makes the cheese unique. It’s a cheese which is hard not to like because it has a mild but distinctive, pleasant flavour. Yarg is simply the word ‘gray’ spelt backwards which is a reference to the developers of the cheese whose second name was Gray. The idea that the cheese is deeply traditional is part of its appeal, but this is a very old cheese brought back for modern times, rather than an enduring tradition.

Clotted Cream (The Cornish Aphrodisiac)

This might take second place after the pasty in the Cornish Food hall of fame. Clotted cream is associated with the South-West of England, specifically Cornwall and Devon. It’s a very rich, thick cream with a texture closer to butter but the taste of fresh, dense cream. Rodda’s Clotted Cream sets the bar and is delivered to Cornish people all over the UK in places where it’s harder to find. It goes perfectly with scones and jam – famously always being put jam first with a dollop of cream on top in Cornwall. In Devon they have a more strange, perverse method which is widely rejected deeper in the west country. It was extremely popular in the 1800’s but has been around far longer, and may have originally been brought to the South West from tin traders from the area around modern day Syria. It is far longer lasting than other forms of cream, and this preservative benefit is likely why it was so popular in days before fridges. There is a myth about a girl called Jenny who allured the great giant Blunderbore with clotted cream. Inevitably, he fell in love with her and made her his fourth wife. Clotted cream therefore, is the Cornish aphrodisiac. 

Cornish Fairings 

‘Fairings’ are snacks that were sold at fairs in the Victorian era, and the Cornish were particularly good at making these. The Cornish Fairing is essentially a softer, more buttery ginger biscuit. Much like our friend Cornish Yarg, it’s history is not as deep as one might expect and the biscuit was only really popularised in the late 1800’s. You didn’t think they had ginger and cinnamon in Cornwall before then, did you? However, 150 years of success for the same business that popularised them certainly earns this biscuit a place in the Cornish Hall of Fame. 

Hevva Cake

This is a Cornish grandma classic, also known as ‘heavy cake’, because it’s so dense. The cake is made from raisins and is closer to a flapjack than a cake. Traditionally it was made by the watchmen of fishing boats and has a criss-cross pattern to represent the fishing nets. If you’d been out fishing all day this is exactly the cake you’d want, it’s dense and buttery. 

Star-Gazy Pie 

This Cornish classic is so Cornish that nobody alive today is Cornish enough to eat it and you won’t find it anywhere. Even my grandmother has never tried – not once – and that’s saying something. The pie is made with eggs, potato and pilchard whose heads characteristically poke through the sides of the pastry on top. Two stories exist of its origin, both are linked with mythology, naturally, because this is a pie that looks like it exists in fiction. The first story is that the Star Gazey pie keeps the devil out of Cornwall, with the logic that if the Cornish will put anything in a pie they might well put the Devil in a pie, too. To be fair, if you met someone on a dark corner and they said “I’ll turn you into a pie”, I think you’d run like heck.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on one origin story: 

“On 23 December, Tom Bawcock decided to brave the storms and went out in his fishing boat. Despite the stormy weather and the difficult seas, he managed to catch enough fish to feed the entire village. The entire catch (including seven types of fish) was baked into a pie, which had the fish heads poking through to prove that there were fish inside. Ever since then, a festival has been held on 23 December in Mousehole. The celebration and memorial to the efforts of Tom Bawcock sees the villagers parading a huge stargazy pie during the evening with a procession of handmade lanterns, before eating the pie itself”.

Kelly’s Ice Cream 

Kelly’s ice cream was founded in the 1890’s in Mevagissey by an Italian immigrant that changed his name to make it easier for the Cornish to pronounce. He was so successful that at one point he had multiple ice cream shops just in the village of Mevagissey, which didn’t even have a large population. The ice cream was made by an Italian working with the most Cornish of ingredients – clotted cream – which produced something miraculous that is now exported all over. My great great grandfather used to sell peanuts alongside the Kelly’s founder, but unfortunately they held far less appeal. Any inheritance from that for my grandfather would have been, well, peanuts. Today, Kelly’s has a monopoly on ice cream vans and a fleet of 40 of them that tour Cornish beaches in summer time. 

Here’s what the Kelly’s website says today: 

“The Kelly’s of Cornwall story dates back to the late 1890s when Joseph Staffieri moved to the UK from Italy and settled in St Austell. He started a small business selling fish & chips in the winter and ice cream, which he made himself, in the summer.”

“His son-in-law, Lazero, began to build the ice cream side of the business and with a pony and cart launched the first Kelly’s mobile unit, the origin of the fleet of 40 vans which we now see across our Cornish beaches and landmark every summer. At that time he sold what was called the ‘penny lick’; a small shot-sized re-useable glass which he filled with ice cream and sold for a penny.”

Pilchard on pilchard, served with pilchard

Pilchard is a fish within the sardine family that commonly refers to larger specimens, and Cornwall used to have Biblical numbers of these things just off shore. We ate a lot of them, understandably. At one point in Mevagissey’s history, doctors noted that there were many complaints of stomach ache which could ultimately be traced back to a diet over dependent on oily fish. My grandfather would often eat crushed up canned sardines on toast, put under the grill and served with salt and pepper. It’s delicious. Canned fish have always been much more popular on the continent than in the UK, and pilchard was mainly an export to outside the UK. Now that the Cornish have the choice to not eat so much canned fish and the pilchard have mostly gone (although there has been a recent resurgence in numbers), you don’t see many Pilchard being eaten. 

Saffron Cake

These are buns flavoured with saffron and raisins and are really delicious. It’s more common to buy a whole loaf of ‘saffron cake’, slice it and serve it with butter like a piece of bread. The buns are softer and lighter. The cake is yellow in colour, although these days I’m afraid that’s dye because saffron is too expensive to use in the quantities required to get that colour. They really are delicious. 

Cornish Food Today

The Appeal of the ‘Cornish’ Brand

In the last decades, ‘Cornwall’ has become a brand that’s associated with high quality food. The name ‘Cornwall’ lends an authenticity to products in a time when so much food is mass produced, processed and comes from big name brands. Cornwall is thought of as a wilder place, a bit cut off – perhaps the food from there really is special? That’s the idea. Let’s take a look at some of the influences on Cornish food today.

Padstow & Rick Stein 

Part of the reason for the Cornish brand being used to market products comes from the work of Rick Stein, who essentially helped turn Padstow into an upmarket tourist attraction and started selling really amazing seafood from there. This, combined with his big media presence helped to put Cornish food on the map and become synonymous with quality. 

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with him:

“I had a childhood upbringing of eating lots of Cornish fish. My parents had a holiday house just outside Padstow, and I used to spent most of every summer there, and my father had a share in a lobster boat in Padstow, so we have plenty of fish when I was young, and it sort of stuck. And when Jill and I opened the restaurant in 1975, it seemed like the obvious thing to do was to concentrate on seafood. It wasn’t an original idea. I remember there was a place called Mark’s Seafood Bar, which is still there in Falmouth, which was then owned by somebody I knew. I remember going there, this was in about ‘74, I think, to this little hole-in-the-wall place in Falmouth, where he was getting high court judges, captains of industry coming and siting down at kitchen tables and eating grilled lobster, and Dover sole, and oysters. It seems obvious now, but the idea of selling fresh seafood in a place like Falmouth or Padstow was quite new then. There was a good sized restaurant in Padstow at the time called The Blue Lobster, but they tended to specialise in gratins of things, whereas this place tool very fresh sole or lobster and grilled them, and that was very much more my style of food .So that’s why I opened really.

“I periodically go and buy fish in supermarkets, just to see what people can buy, and sometimes I’m just appalled by the quality, and no wonder people don’t want to eat fish if what they’re buying is stale and pricey as well. You probably know we made this TV series in France, and spending some time in somewhere like France, you get this impression of the enormous uphill task it is for a country like Britain, that hasn’t had great enthusiasm for seafood, to get to where the French are. You can buy wonderful fresh  fish in virtually any city in the whole of France, and you know you can go to the market in Toulouse, which is a fair way from the sea, and find beautiful fish both from the Atlantic and from the Meditteranean, in a market. It’s almost like you might as well give up, just stick to selling fish in Cornwall. 

St Austell Brewery

St Austell Brewery was Founded by Walter Hicks and five generations later is still a family run business, only now it has earned international acclaim for creating exceptional ales. Tribute is the flagship ale you may have heard of, and there’s nothing better than getting one served up to you in a pub in the ales home-country. The brewery also owns about 200 pubs, so naturally has changed the face of the food industry in Cornwall. Food quality and prices have gone up and pubs are now more family and tourism friendly, rather than being more authentic workmans pubs. 

Seafood & Shanghai Markets 

The vast majority of fresh fish caught in Cornwall are exported to Europe and even Asia. You can buy live Cornish Spider Crab in Shanghai fish markets. Most of Cornwall’s finest produce leaves the country because we Brits unfortunately don’t appreciate good food as much as, say the French or the Chinese. However, do not be dismayed because if you know where to look there are pockets of deliciousness all over Cornwall.