Michelin award winning fish restaurant in Cornwall

20:17 July 25, 2022

ANDY COOPER discovers that one of his favorite chefs continues to demonstrate the excellence of his craft in a new place

I was recently the guest of the very hospitable group of managers at Plymouth Albion Rugby Club and once we had a few pints down before our match day lunch the waitress arrived to serve our starter. I took a bite of mine and couldn’t help but blurt out “Wow that’s good!” Which was actually shorthand for “Wow, to be completely honest, that’s not what I would expect to eat as a pre-game meal.”

It’s not about being condescending or stuck up for such occasions.

La Sardine Factory overlooks the beautiful harbour.
– Credit: La Sardine Factory

The response came back from my rugby hosts “Oh Ben Palmer makes our game day food.” To which my immediate response might well have been to order a subscription for hospitality at the Albion. Never mind the rugby, I would go for the food alone.

That’s Mr. Palmer’s genius. I have followed his culinary journey in the South West over the years like a truffle dog in search of his tubers. Appointments as head chef at the Tanner Brothers in Plymouth, at the Glazebrook House Hotel in South Brent, then with his own fabulous restaurant, the Greedy Goose in Plymouth, had made me a fervent fan.

So news of Ben’s latest incarnation as chef/owner of The Sardine Factory necessitated a trip to Looe. And, having recently visited a good friend for lunch, it’s obvious that Ben has, literally and figuratively, discovered his spiritual home.

Ben grew up in Looe and always dreamed of having his own restaurant on the harbour. He spent hours fishing as a little boy, perched outside Fisherman’s Stores, now known as The Sardine Factory, Ben’s restaurant. The building was once a sardine factory used to process and preserve sardines straight from the fishing boats in Looe in the 19th century.

Ben’s obsession with all things sardine continues to grow, and he’s become known for his infamous Stargazey Pie, one of the delicacies on a new menu that really makes the most of the nearby location. some of the best seafood local trawler crews can catch. .

The Sardine Factory seats 80 overlooking the beautiful harbor with a menu reflecting Looe’s philosophy and a passion for local, seasonal produce, with an abundance of sustainable fish dishes. Ben and his team were delighted to receive the prestigious distinction of a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2020.

A chef seated in a restaurant.

Ben grew up in Looe and always dreamed of having his own restaurant on the harbour.
– Credit: La Sardine Factory

The daily menu of our visit offered delicacies such as Goan spicy whole sea bass, on the bone with saag aloo and onion bhaji, or linguine with Cornish crab, chilli, lime, cilantro, aged manchego and pangritata. Or how about a calamari and chorizo ​​stew with red wine, bomba rice and garlic aioli? Just three examples of a chef whose talent is at the top of the tree and who clearly loves life in his hometown.

Lucky Looe-sers (is that what they’re known for?) because they can just walk to a place the rest of us would happily walk for miles – that’s power attraction of the terribly talented Mr Palmer.

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