Reviews

Understated excellence. Ben’s Cornish Kitchen does not exist for awards, nor courts them, but deserves them when they come. It’s a restaurant that delivers so much more than it promises. Everyone uses terms like ‘locally sourced ingredients’ but Ben doesn’t bullshit. He doesn’t try to be clever with his ingredients but creates flavours that are combined with love and care. The result is food that his regulars, like me, feel as proud to eat as Ben is to serve.

Excellent food using fine local ingredients and precisely executed. The wine list has been put together with marked thoughtfulness so that it is easy to match food and wine. Pulling all this together, the service is knowledgeable, considerate and not intrusive.

There’s something classy but rather lovable about Ben’s Cornish Kitchen – an affable bistro-style eatery on Marazion’s main street. Inside, thick stone walls add a rustic edge to proceedings, although all eyes are on Ben Prior’s “unbelievably priced” menus – a compendium of great-value dishes displaying a “fabulously inventive use of local and seasonal ingredients”.

We’re in accord with readers who say that Ben is a chef with “elevated levels of skill and invention” – just witness cleverly contrived, neatly balanced creations such as ravioli-style pansotti of crab and lobster with tomato salsa, broad beans capers and shallots (“an intelligent mix of flavours”). His talents also show through when it comes to meat and game, notably a “truly brilliant” dish of roast squab cut through with the sweetness of roasted fig, couscous and harissa hummus. To conclude, there are well-ripened cheeses, plus flavoursome desserts such as a cleverly deconstructed vanilla cheesecake accompanied by plump poached peaches and blueberries.

The comprehensive wine list is as affordable as the food – “we could hardly believe the bill”, exclaimed one couple.

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“…… a small, gloriously civilised restaurant of quiet ambition.

We don’t talk enough about quiet ambition. We assume that ambition always has to be noisy and brash. Ambition is meant to be a toothy eight-year-old girl tap dancing out into the limelight. Whereas here it feels as if a bunch of talented people have a more modest ambition: to get things right. The result is not eye-widening food, but it is very pleasing. Witness a starter of lobster and crab ravioli, the seafood compacted within the tight hold of thin pasta, like the best silk knickers over a pert buttock. Sorry, but really good seafood does that to me. ….”

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