Food tastes better outside. Fact. And food this good tastes exceptional outside. Simon and Jemma of the Hidden Hut have only been here since Easter 2011, yet have been featured on TV, sold out of upcoming feast nights until the end of June and regularly serve over 100 guests in one sitting. And all out of a large caravan-sized, olive green wooden hut that squats discreetly above the dunes at Porthcurnick beach on the Roseland Peninsula.
Reaching the hut is by foot only, either from Portscatho along the coastal path or down the road from the Driftwood and Rosevine hotels, four miles from St Mawes. As yet, there are no signs, just word of mouth, passers by and locals, who are as much a part of the clientele as tourists. This is more permanent pop-up than National Trust café, with food prepared by an experienced head chef and a nutritionist.
“The sourcing of the products is what I enjoy,” explains Simon, “I love rare breeds.” The split pea and slow roast ham soup featured an Old Spot from Calenick Farm and the beef bourguignon I missed yesterday was made from the farm’s shorthorn beef. The soup whacked a meaty punch from the stock used to boil up the ham, served with generous chunks of bread and slabs of butter. Alongside the soup we ordered wraps – smoked salmon and creamy cheese, blue cheese, prosciutto and rocket. The wraps were crammed full and the combination made for a light but filling lunch. Followed up with a chaser of cake and tea and the meal became a feast. The brownies were particularly memorable (as a good brownie should be), made by Jemma’s mum Maggie, and no, you can’t get the recipe.
The pair have grand plans for the little Hut – Simon speaks of giant metal stands for his paella feast nights, the next of which is happening on the beach in June, of plans to get a fire-pit built and more tables that are currently being crafted out of an entire tree. Simple, big ideas and a conscious move away from the stress and anti-sociable hours of Simon’s previous life as head chef at the nearby Roseland Inn, Rosevine and Bustophers, Truro.
Souped up and sated, the sun came out and our cup of tea became a brew with a view, priceless. The tables filled and emptied – walkers, elderly ladies, families, dogs, locals. Book early if you want to get a place on the Hut’s summer feast nights to which you bring your own booze, cutlery and plates, making for a very reasonably priced evening out. Sourced with passion and knowledge, expect such Hut classics as lobster and chips, crab night, slow roasted pork belly (vegetarians catered for) and fish pie, all featuring the great outdoors and all its breezy, unpredictable Cornish beauty. For more on the Hidden Hut go to hiddenhut.co.uk