“ Address: Fistral Beach / Headland Road / Newquay / Cornwall TR7 1HY / England „
On a recent stay in Cornwall, we visited Newquay, it being the nearest town to the cottage we had rented. Newquay itself appeared to have seen better days, as like a lot of other seaside towns it seemed over-run by fish and chip outlets, tacky souvenir shops and kiss-me-quick hats. However, whilst wandering around the town we spotted several hoardings and adverts for a restaurant called Fistral Blu. On our way out of Newquay we decided to go and have a look at it from the outside, peruse their menu and generally see whether it would be worth returning one evening. We liked what we saw, and decided we'd give it try later on that week - hopefully when the weather was a little bit sunnier, as the venue certainly appeared to lend itself to alfresco dining.
~~~ LOCATION ~~~
The unique selling point of Fistral Blu is its location and stunning views. Set right on the edge of Fistral Beach, it affords its diners a panoramic view of the sea and the surfers. Yes, that's right - surfers. Fistral Beach in Newquay has a reputation as one of the premier surfing beaches in the UK. The west facing beach is almost a mile long and covered in a lovely pale gold sand with steep dunes in parts. As you can imagine, the beach gets extremely crowded in the summer months, not just with sun worshippers, but with the surfers I mentioned earlier. The waves at Fistral beach are of a very high quality, creating some of the best surfing conditions in Europe. Fistral Beach is often used to hold major national and international surfing competitions.
Being such a popular beach, Fistral does therefore have its drawbacks. Yes, Fistral Blu restaurant has a stunning location, but the major drawback is the parking. Evening diners are luckier in that they are more likely to find a parking space, as there are 10-12 free parking spaces if you dine at Fistral Blu in the evening. Any other time, you will be forced to put a minimum of £3 in the parking meter at the beach, and that's if you can find a space. Therefore, at peak times (i.e. sunny days, weekends and bank holidays), it's generally best to park in one of Newquay's longer stay car parks, and then walk to Fistral Beach.
~~~ DÉCOR & AMBIANCE ~~~
Fistral Blu is housed in a very modern looking building sitting directly in front of Fistral Beach. The building also houses several surf related shops such as surf board hire, surf equipment and beach clothes to buy etc; On the ground floor of the building, Fistral Blu has a cafeteria which sells snacks, drinks, ice-creams and teas and coffees. Upstairs is Fistral Blu restaurant, which opens for lunch and dinner only (or by prior arrangement for any function you might wish to hold there i.e. weddings, dinner dances or conferences).
Fistral Blu is a large restaurant with a Mediterranean themed menu. The views are breathtaking as the front of the restaurant directly overlooks Fistral Beach. The room is glass fronted to maximise the views, and is therefore extremely light and airy. Similarly, there is a wooden veranda to the front of the building where you can sit and enjoy pre-dinner drinks, or even dine if the weather is kind. The veranda offers 180 degree views over Fistral Beach, so I would imagine the sunsets are stunning at times. Sadly, it was cold and blowy when we dined there (despite it being mid-July..), so we settled for the option of dining inside the restaurant.
Inside, the restaurant is very light and bright. The huge glass fronted picture windows are complimented by white walls and high white domed ceilings, which really open the room up. The flooring, tables and chairs are all of a light oak type wood, and this again gives a light touch to the room. Accents of deep sea blue in the cushions and lighting give a nice nautical feel to the room, and really do compliment the seafront location of the venue.
~~~ MENU ~~~
Fistral Blu's menu is very Mediterranean, with an emphasis on using local produce wherever possible. There are plenty of meat and fish dishes to choose from, as well as vegetarian options. I like the way the menu uses a lot of local produce, but manages to wrap it seamlessly around the more international fayre. Plates of Spanish Tapas or Greek Mezze jostled for attention alongside seared Cornish scallops or local mussels served à la marinière. The menu makes full use of the Cornish seafood available in the area with prawns, mussels, scallops, lobster and sea bream featuring on the menu. However, if you're more of a meat eater, the menu certainly doesn't disappoint with Cornish rib eye steak, lamb shanks, lasagne, beef burgers or free range Cornish chicken on offer. Most of the dishes come served with delicious sounding sauces, salads or vegetables, and a choice of potatoes. On top of the usual menu, there are daily specials available as well.
The menu is not massively extensive, which always appeals to me. If a kitchen offers a huge choice of main courses and starters you know that a lot of it is going to be defrosted straight out of a freezer, and probably bunged in a microwave. A smaller menu means that the chances of the food being fresh are slightly higher. Added to which, with a smaller menu the chef will be more of an expert at cooking those dishes well as he prepares them more often.
I don't think there is any benefit to listing the whole menu here, but if you're interested menus can be viewed at http://www.fistral-blu.co.uk/menus.html. Generally starters range from £4 to £8, mains from £7 to £17 and desserts from around the £3.50 mark. Nothing too horrendous price-wise, but not so cheap you'd doubt the quality.
~~~ STARTERS ~~~
We originally planned to bypass having starters and go straight to the main courses. However, we were tempted by the Fistral Blu Mezze Plate, which was £7.00 per person and consisted of olives, dips, char-grilled vegetables, meats, cheese, fish, tortillas and croutes. We decided it sounded simply too delicious to bypass, so we ordered two portions to share amongst the four of us. I must say I did like the sound of the Chicken Piri-Piri or the Moules Marinière, but I'm glad we stuck to the Mezze instead. It was certainly the right choice to make, as it was delicious and very moorish. It just took the edge off our appetites, but wasn't too filling so we didn't appreciate our main courses. There was a lovely selection of pickled herring, parma ham, Cornish Yarg cheese (tastes a little bit goaty!), stuffed olives, croutons, marinated prawns all accompanied by two dips of hummous and guacamole.
~~~ MAIN COURSES ~~~
For the main courses, it was harder to make our final decisions as everything sounded equally delicious. In the end, I plumped for the Thai Style Fishcakes, which came served with a mixed leaf salad and french fries (£10.00). The fishcakes were crammed with a nice healthy mix of potato and some kind of white fish (I know not what). They were delicately flavoured with lemongrass which gave them a nice subtle flavour. Drizzled over the plate was plenty of sweet chilli sauce, which certainly had a bit of a bite to it.
My partner and my father decided on a Fistral Blu special (available on Monday and Thursday nights only), which consisted of two 10oz Cornish Rib Eye Steaks and all the trimmings, as well as a bottle of house red or white wine all for £25.00 per couple. Sometimes with these special offer menus you can end up with a plate full of inferior meat and a scaled down portion. Not so here. Both steaks were of a very good size and accompanied by a mixed leaf garnish and a plate full of crispy fries and onion rings. The beef was quite frankly superb, and both men said it was the tastiest steak they'd had in years. I had a small corner off my partner's steak and I tend to agree with them - it was full of flavour and melted in the mouth.
My mother was tempted by the Cornish Fish Pie, but decided instead on one of their daily specials, which was pan- fried Sea Bream at £14.00. This came served in a light buttery sauce, garnished with prawns and accompanied by sugar snap peas (served nicely al dente) and french fries. She pronounced her dish as simply delicious, but I am unable to concur as she wouldn't let me try any....She did have one small criticism to make in that the prawns accompanying the sea bream were served with their shells on. She didn't mind peeling them, but thought they ought to have supplied a finger bowl for the process, as peeling prawns is always incredibly sticky and rather messy.
All in all, everyone was more than impressed with their main courses and enjoyed them immensely. The portions were good and the food served piping hot and in a timely fashion. I can't comment on the desserts as we didn't linger for them, all having felt we eaten enough with our Mezze and main courses. My partner was almost tempted as some of the choices sounded very enticing. However, the adamant refusal of the remaining three of us gave him a case of the guilts and he decided to forgo a pud!
~~~ DRINKS ~~~
Fistral Blu offers a full range of drinks, wines and spirits, as well as some delicious sounding cocktails. Wines and champagnes are from all over the world, with their house wine starting at a reasonable £10.95. My Dad and partner shared a bottle of the house white wine which came included in the price of their steak dinner, and they both pronounced it very palatable for house wine. I settled on sparkling mineral water as I'm not a big drinker. I was served a rather expensive bottle of something called Artesian at £3.50. However, the bottle was such a pretty shape and colour (deep blue) I almost didn't mind too much. I was tempted to take the empty bottle away with me, but found the label far too glued on.
We didn't linger for coffees either, though I suspect if the weather had been warmer and brighter we might have been tempted to take them outside on the veranda and watch the sun go down. They had all the usual array of different coffees and teas on offer, as well an indulgent sounding hot chocolate topped with marshmellows.
~~~ SERVICE ~~~
We dined at Fistral Blu on a quiet Monday evening, and I'd say that the restaurant was about 50% full. Sadly, all the tables in the windows were already occupied, but it was our own fault for not booking. Next time I would definitely pre-book and request one of the tables in the window. The views are just to die for. We had to content ourselves with watching one of the two large screen televisions mounted on either side of the restaurant. The televisions are soundless (which is a relief), but show live webcam streaming of the beach and sea. As the surfers at Newquay are in the water from first thing in the morning until very late dusk, there's always something to see on the screens.
The restaurant had a good mix of couples, families and groups of friends. There were a few families with pre-teen children there, but no really young ones. The restaurant does not give the appearance of catering for very small children as there was no mention of smaller portions or special dishes on the menus we saw. On the whole, it stuck me as being a bit too quiet and adult-like to appeal to families with very young children.
The restaurant was fairly quiet when we entered, so we were seated almost immediately. The drinks order was taken very promptly and they gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu. Once we'd placed our order the starter arrived very quickly. They gave us a little bit of breathing space before the main course arrived and that's always appreciated.
Service is not included in the bill and is left at the discretion of the diner. The bill came to a rather reasonable £66.00, which I thought was very good for two starters, four main courses, wine and drink. The service was very friendly and efficient. I didn't use the toilets, but others in my party did and had nothing adverse to say.
~~~ RECOMMENDATION ~~~
I was most impressed with the food at Fistral Blu, and wouldn't hesitate to go back should I find myself in Newquay again. I can't think of one single negative aspect to the venue food and drink wise, and I loved the light airy feel of the place. The only thing they fall down on is the parking problem during the summer, but I guess you'd have to expect that given their prime location on the most popular beach in Newquay, if not Cornwall.
Evidently, there's a local rumour that Rick Stein has made noises about acquiring Fistral Blue, as he wants to extend his empire further up the Cornish coast. Perhaps he's not content with his 10/11 melange of restaurants, shops and stores he has in nearby Padstow (or Padstein as some of the more disgruntled locals refer to it!), or maybe it's just one of those made up stories. Either way, he'd be acquiring a superb venue in a stunning location.
~~~ OPENING HOURS ~~~
Fistral Blu restaurant is open all year round and serves:-
Lunch from 12.00pm to 3.00pm
Dinner from 6.30pm until 10.00pm
In addition, downstairs there is a Beach Café which is open for the summer season from 1st March through until the end of October. It opens from 8.30am daily and serves breakfasts, lunches, snacks, hot and cold drinks etc.
Tel: 01637 879444
Website: http://www.fistral-blu.co.uk/index.html. Their website not only details their menus, it also gives further information on private room hire for any functions you might wish to hold overlooking the sea. I would imagine it's a stunning and popular location for weddings.
All major credit cards accepted.
Disabled and wheelchair access is available due to a lift, and there is a separate WC for the disabled on site.
There is parking immediately outside the restaurant. This is free in the winter and in the evenings (if you can find one of their 10/12 allocated spaces). In the summer you need to buy a parking ticket at the pay and display machine near the beach (or ask for a parking permit from within the Fistral Blu).
Cornish Fayre including seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes.