The William Bray, Shere

Where the hell have you been? You might well ask. Where the hell haven’t you been? Would be a more appropriate opening gambit.

Well in answer to the first question I have been – around.

More specifically I have been outside of Cornwall at the weekends and inside of work in the week. So although I have remained hungry since you last heard from me, I have been hungry ‘outside’ Cornwall.

At the risk of boring my regular readers (Hi Mummy! Hi Daddy!) with a worrying lack of posts, I have decided to go ahead with a quick review of some food I ate in a land far, far away, well, beyond the confines of Cornwall. This exotic destination being my home county of Surrey, where amongst the rolling hills, picturesque villages and Land Rovers, I was spawned some 25 years ago. Last weekend, somewhere beneath these rolling hills, flanked by rows of pristine Land Rover’s in the picturesque Surrey village of Shere, I visited a ‘gastro pub’ that I shall be referring to as The William Bray – for that was it’s name.

So read on for HungryInCornwall on tour part 1…

The William Bray, Shere

The William Bray sells itself as a bar ‘slash’ restaurant, with emphasis on the ‘slash’. Comprising of two main areas – the bar and the adjacent dining room (oh yes, and an ample and comfortable outdoor seating area) – the William Bray offers both a relaxed drinking establishment and a restaurant serving ‘classic British cooking in a modern setting’ according to their website.

Oh and did I mention that The William Bray is owned by former racing driver Julian Bailey? No I have never heard of him either.

The William Bray, Shere

I am not sure whether the term ‘gastropub’ is still in fashion when it comes to whipping up a creative bit of PR blurb for your establishment but I would hazard a guess to say that it isn’t (as The Bray seems to have omitted this phrase from their site) – but with all the William Bray’s efforts to provide a menu that offers creative dishes alongside pub classics, alongside a proper drinking pub, it just all seems a bit mixed up.

This has always been my issue with pubs that I would consider to be ‘gastro,’ the fact that they generally seem to be caught somewhere halfway between a great place to eat and a great place to drink. That is unless the pub itself is unassuming, but suprises you with excellent food. Call me old-fashioned (or an alcoholic), but I generally like to do these two activities separately.

Eat at a restaurant. Drink at a pub. That shall be my mantra.

The William Bray, Shere

After selecting a pint of the local Surrey Hills Brewery’s ‘Ranmore’ Ale, which if I am honest I was not overly impressed by (although I do realise that I am spoilt by the quality of Cornwall’s beautiful and varied beers, so don’t take the criticism too hard Surrey Hills) I went on to choose a starter of asparagus, poached quails egg and hollondaise sauce, which can be seen above. This represented a solid start to proceedings and I have to say it was an enjoyable dish, the quails egg was expertly poached and delicious – although the asparagus could perhaps of done with a little less bottom half.

The William Bray, Shere

The starter was quickly followed by my main – fillet steak with a green peppercorn sauce, roasted vine tomatoes and skinny fries. This dish was aaalllrrriiiggghhhttt I suppose. My main problem was that the green peppercorn sauce tasted to my palate (a palate that I freely admit may have been dulled over the years by beer, cigarettes and my time as a fire-breather in a Croatian circus*) a bit, well, muddy. I guess the appropriate adjective might be earthy and I am sure this is how the sauce is meant to taste, but regardless of this it still put a dampener on my main course. I didn’t ask, but I am going to assume that the steak itself was local – “you could walk to quite a few of our suppliers from the bar” says the website – so I can only assume that, as is the Surrey way, the lucky cow involved was pampered from birth, fed from Laura Ashley troughs and protected from the ravages of winter by bovine-specific Barbour jackets. Regardless of this, the steak was nothing to write home about (or blog about, but I have started now so…) and I have had better.

I shouldn’t complain too much about the food though, well not much more than I have, as thankfully I did not have to pay. The food was purchased for me and the lovely Miss C by two generous anonymous benefactors (Hi Mummy! Hi Daddy!) so I feel it would be rude to go into pricing specifics. Suffice to say that if I paid that much in Cornwall I would expect to be in a proper restaurant and would expect nothing less than a memorable meal.
To sum up my feelings on The William Bray I would like to reference what I believe to be far and away the best driving game ever. Better than i-spy, better than 20 questions and even better than swearing at scary truck drivers – this game is simply called ‘pubs.’ The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible before the end of your journey, points that are earned by first taking it in turns to spot a pub on route. Points are then awarded depending on the number of legs that the name of the pub you have spotted involves. So ‘Seven Stars’ would gain you no points (stars don’t have legs dummy!) and the ‘Cricketers’ will gain you enough points to win outright in only one go. The ‘William Bray’ would award the player just two points – not great, but better than nothing.

The William Bray – Shere Lane, Shere, Guildford, Surrey GU5 9HS

*not entirely true


The Wheel House, Falmouth

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

Try and think back to a time before the internet took over our lives. A time  when arguments in the pub over the year that Return of The Jedi was released remained unanswered until you could dig out your VHS copy at home and check. A time where recipes came from recipe books, music came from your hi-fi, photos sat in an album and your decision about which restaurant to eat at came more often than not as a result of the mythical ‘word of mouth.’

So yeah, balls to the internet. Those where the days right? Well to be honest I don’t know, as I certainly can’t remember a time where any of the previously mentioned reminisces actually happened. Certainly not to me.

What I did have the pleasure of doing recently, for quite possibly the first time in my 6 years of living in Falmouth (well Penryn, but lets not split hairs) is visiting a restaurant that I was actually genuinely excited about eating at. This child-like excitement was not thanks to 5 stars on trip advisor, or a glowing write up on the Guardian website, but was actually due to a torrent of almost unbelievably positive reviews and ‘word of mouth’ recommendations from practically every person I have met south of the Tamar. This restaurant is The Wheelhouse.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

So let me set the scene. Or waffle on a bit more. Let see where it goes…

This was not to be a solo culinary adventure and for this mission behind enemy lines (the Falmouth/Penryn boundary – its somewhere near Lidl) I was accompanied by the radiant Miss C (who you may remember from my last review) and a crack team of shellfish enthusiasts. Shellfish enthusiasts and this man…

…who was disappointed to discover that the Wheelhouse did not serve meat. This disappointment was luckily doused in rum, which was then met by chips and resulted in smiles. Thankfully the rest of the hungryincornwall squadron were hungry for some delicious local shellfish and were not to be let down.

Now before I get onto the unadulterated praise of what has certainly taken a prominent position on the ‘best food I have ever eaten in Cornwall’ list, I feel duty bound to point out some very minor criticisms of my first visit to the Wheelhouse. Firstly, we were booked in for 9 o’clock and upon arriving at said time, we were greeted by the very friendly proprietor Tina, who informed us that the table would not be ready for another half an hour. No biggy really but for the fact that I had eaten two slices for pizza for lunch at 12:30 and had nothing since, so my stomach was in the early stages of digesting its own lining.  The second, very slight criticism, being that they had run out of the ‘skinny fries’ that they usually serve. Instead they served a thicker cut chip, which although bearable was not (I am informed by a member of the squadron who has visited the Wheelhouse previously) up to their usual high standards of chipped potato.

So with that out the way I can begin to gush…

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

There are two things that The Wheelhouse possesses that in my experience is lacking from any other eating establishment in Falmouth – style and atmosphere.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

In terms of style the Wheelhouse is impeccable. From its eclectic selection of seating and beautiful farmhouse tables to the vintage crockery and the clam-esque metal dishes your food is served in, each decision in terms of decor has been perfectly executed without appearing contrived. I was sitting at a singer sewing machine table, which says a lot.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food  the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food  the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

It is the atmosphere in the Wheelhouse that (other than the food) impressed me most, an atmosphere that is created by a combination of the friendliest of staff and the ‘boho living room’ feel of a restaurant that is no bigger than the bar area of most Falmouth restaurants. As we arrived at 9:30 to a service bursting at the seams, you really felt like you were entering a restaurant that was exciting and alive, it’s compact space rammed full of happy customers enjoying food and enjoying life. A place where you literally feel at home – no sterilised decor or pretentious waiting staff to make you feel out of place.

So did you actually eat? Oh yes…Sorry…the food. It was delicious.

The Wheelhouse’s simple menu is easy to negotiate but so very difficult to choose from. With no physical menu (the shellfish on offer is dictated by what is fresh and available) our waiter sat down with us at the table and in what can only be described as a very enthusiastic and charismatic rendition of shellfish, let us know what was good today, which crab is sweeter, what sauces he would recommend – to be honest I was impressed, by both him and the menu – and I plumped for scallops, shell off prawns, a portion of chips and a bottle of the house white.

the wheel house falmouth restaurant review cornish food

As the food arrived we all scrapped for precious table space and then with a short pause for effect began an entry into our own personal shellfish utopia. The prawns were plump and juicy, with a lime, chilli and garlic sauce that worked perfectly – providing just enough tangy and delicately spiced flavour without overpowering the beautiful taste of the prawns. The scallops were some of the best I had ever tasted, sitting invitingly in their shells, with a simple dressing of ginger, soy sauce and garlic (if my memory serves me correctly – it was probably half ten by this point and I had made a decent indent into my Sauvignon) which again was a marriage of flavours made in heaven. I have had scallops before where they have been either badly cooked, or for me, poorly combined with other flavours. This was not the case at the Wheelhouse where the scallops were allowed to bask relatively untainted in all their meaty delicious glory.

I paid a round thirty pounds for my meal, including the lovely bottle of wine (hic), which I was more than happy to pay (look how happy I am above – that is pure happiness right there). Considering I had 6 scallops, which many of the ‘high end’ restaurants in Falmouth would have required either the sale of a lesser needed body part or some sort of finance package for me to afford, I was thoroughly impressed. I could not recommend the Wheelhouse more, one of the best meals I have had in Falmouth, in easily the nicest setting with undoubtedly the best atmosphere – it is one not to be missed.

The Wheel House – Upton Slip, Falmouth TR11 3DQ 01326 318050

The Royal Oak, Perranwell

Having heard good noises about the food at the Royal Oak in Perranwell and having never actually been there, it was decided –  on what looked to be a fairly sunny Saturday morning – to amble the 5 miles or so  from Penryn (the home of HungryInCornwall) cross country to the small yet perfectly formed village of Perranwell.

Accompanying me on this journey was the lovely Miss C, whose choice of walking footwear was not the best.

Helpfully Miss C had procured a map from a brilliant website called Trails from the Track. Although nicely presented the map and accompanying text provided only the barest of directions as the route led you away from the streets of the sprawling metropolis that is Penryn and into the countryside. As chief map reader this afforded an extra element of excitement to proceedings, having to decipher such directions as…

‘Turn left up to a gateway, ignoring a driveway on the left, into a field ahead. Turn right in the field and follow the right hedge line to a track’

…which made the chances of actually getting to sample the food of the Royal Oak slightly less than I would have liked. Never the less we trooped on, on what was a beautiful walk that I would highly recommend, and were quickly rewarded for this perseverance by the discovery of a rope swing over a small stream.


After a brief refuel at the Norway Inn, we were also treated to a bit of Cornish history, or mythology depending on how you look at it, with a short stop at St Piran’s well. More of a cave than a well, with a mossy wall from which water was dripping that we were informed by the accompanying plaque holds medicinal properties. Although we didn’t try any of the water, in hindsight perhaps I should have bottled some in case any future ailments are incurable by conventional medicine and can only be combated by the magic waters of the patron saint of Cornwall.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

Although the Royal Oak looks large from the outside, in a sort of ‘opposite tardis’ way it as actually a lot smaller on the inside than it appears, with low ceilings that make for a nice cosy feel. I can imagine it would be a nice pub to drink in as they have a fine selection of ales and lagers – I had a pint of lovely Doom bar thanks for asking – but as it was only just lunchtime it was more the food selection that I was waiting to deliberate over.

Cornish pub food, like pub food throughout the UK and probably the world can be a hit or miss affair. Sometimes I am happy to put up with the usual burger and chips, lasagna and chips and egg and chips of your bog standard pub menu if I have no other option, but it is so refreshing when you do see a pub create such a simple yet interesting and delicious menu without going down the overpriced gastro-pub route.

The menu, written on a very sturdy tree shape piece of oak, had a lot of items that I would have happily devoured – with panfried scallops with sherry cream and chorizo amongst an enticing bunch. The menu though for me was all but irrelevant, as I had spotted game pie on the specials board as I walked in and my mind was focused on the prospect immediately. It was 11pounds and was absolutely lovely, with a really crispy pastry which when broken into revealed just the right trade off between crunchy top and doughy bottom.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

The pie itself featured an all star cast of lovely tender venison, rabbit, beef and pheasant and I secretly like to believe that the pheasant (something we saw many many of on our journey to the Royal Oak) was bought by the pub from a local poacher, who delivered it to the pub lashed to the back of his battered Land Rover, but alas this is probably not true. It came with roasted vegetables, broccoli and some of the best potato dauphinoise that I have tasted, which were buttery and delicious. Admittedly I prefer my pies to be fully incased in a thick layer of stodge, whereas this pie was more of a stew in a bowl covered by a (delicious) pastry top – but that is only a slight criticism.

Miss C went for the asparagus and pancetta soup which was also very impressive.

The Royal Oak Perranwell pub food cornwall

Equal to her delight over the creamy asparagus soup, with asparagus tips hidden under its surface and crispy pancetta adding the salty smokeyness that it provides so brilliantly, was Miss C’s delight at the inclusion of two thick slices of really good quality bread and proper butter – an absolute essential with soup, something so easy to provide and so badly missed if not. At 6pounds it is certainly sufficient for those with lighter appetites as a decent lunch and did not disappoint in terms of flavor.

Luckily we arrived for lunch bang on its starting time, punctual as ever and were the first ones in, as the dining area is very small seating no more than 20 in what is a very squeezed and also quite dark area. I can only imagine that for evening meals and busy sunday lunches is would be very tight with all the tables full – which I hear is a very regular occurrence so you may need to book at busier times. At about 25pounds for lunch for two, with a pint and a coffee I would say the food is priced well and will definitely be coming back to either give the tapas or one of their fish dishes a pop.

Happy, full and content we made the short journey home to Penryn on the maritime line, where I was able to experience the novelty of having to hand signal the train driver to get him to stop. A great end to a great day.

The Royal Oak – Perranwell, Cornwall TR37 7PX (01872) 863175

HungryInCornwall welcomes you…

…to observe my (oh its Jonathan by the way, nice to meet you) first dip into the glistening waters of food blogging. Exciting times I am sure you will agree.

So. Why a food blog Jonathan? you might ask. Well its very simple, or seems to be the more I think about it. I love food, truly and deeply, with a passion that I feel is sometimes lost on my loved ones and close friends, so a food blog seems the only sensible option to channel this passion into words. Words that I hope you will enjoy.

Ok thats an acceptable answer, but why a Cornish food blog? Another good question. Almost as much as I love food, I love Cornwall. As my adopted home for the last 6 years (6 of the best) I have come to love Cornwall, its people, its countryside, its beaches and most importantly its delicious food. So alongside channeling my passion, I am also going to attempt to channel my love.

So just to summarise this blog will be channeling both my love and my passion.

Actually forget that. That sounds a bit intense – what I am basically going to do is talk about lovely food I have eaten in Cornwall, most likely accompanied by some photos of me smiling awkwardly and a short story about a nice butterfly I saw on the walk home.

If you are tweeterer, then follow HungryInCornwall