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Margot's Bistro, Padstow

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Basildog welcomed me to his Padstow restaurant for lunch today. I had a good-to-very good meal, on which I will provide details over the weekend when I can.

Below are the dishes Basildog prepared: :wink:

-- Scallops with Capers and Bacon

-- Stir-Fried "Thai" Squid

-- Pan-Fried Turbot with Asparagus, New Potatoes and Chive Butter Sauce

-- Rack of Lamb with Spring Onion Mash and Red Wine and Rosemary Sauce

-- Saffron Poached Pears with Strawberry Salsa and Clotted Cream; Caramelised Lemon Tart

Basildog and I also had some time to chat.  He was thoughtful even from the beginning of the meal.  From my posts, he remembered I liked Pellegrino, and purchased and chilled two bottles for me.  My posts had further revealed I dislike background music, and that was taken into consideration as well.  :wink:

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cabrales' "good-to-very-good" means very high marks, basildog.  :biggrin:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I'm curious to hear about the saffron poached pears. Saffron seems to be popping up in a fair number of desserts and far too many chefs use a heavy hand to the detriment of the finished product.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tony, that French restaurant in Herne Hill wasn't by any chance the one at the end of Guernsey Grove? I once had duck confit and broad beans there which were so drastically oversalted as to be inedible. The (indeed, camp) waiter loftily informed me that the heavy salting was "authentic". I was with a friend who lived next door and loved the place, so my hands were tied.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I liked the warm, bright and friendly atmosphere of Basildog's restaurant. Basildog was both working the front of the house and contributing to the preparation of his cuisine. :)

After introductions and a tour of the restaurant (more detailed tours later followed), marinated olives arrived. They were appropriately intensely flavored, and appeared to have been marinated in-house.

(1) Scallops with capers and bacon -- Basildog's scallops were wonderfully prepared and had good texture. They appeared to have been pan-seared (?) and to have been gently dusted during the cooking process with a finely diced herb mixture that was gentle enough not to detract from the intrinsic taste of the scallops. I liked the plumpness and taste of the scallops. The orangish lobes of coraile, while large, were inherently softer in texture than I would have liked, but that did not affect my enjoyment of the dish.

The scallops were nicely presented on a bed of greens from the hills of Padstow, linked with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There was an appealing smokiness to the small  darkbacon strips included in the greens portions, and I squeezed a little bit of the lemon included with the dish.  I liked the use of capers too, although I did not take in all of the included capers.

(2) Stir-Fried "Thai" Squid -- This dish was tasty due to the succulence and tenderness of the squid, which was presented in relatively long cut portions (but which had a "roundness" in the mouth). The sauce was interesting (in a good way), and not a "typical" Thai sauce as its name might suggest. It had a nice consistency that was neither as dense as curry nor as light as a cooking jus. Also, good, slight granularity in the greyish-color sauce. It contained, among other things, lemongrass, coriander and chilli (perhaps a flavored oil as well) (?).

After the first two dishes, I was not only looking forward to the upcoming dishes, but also somewhat relieved that it did not appear I would have to post an unhappy review of Basildog. I would have posted in as much detail about a bad meal than the actual happy meal experience, and Basildog's involvement in eGullet had left me worried about the range of possible outcomes.  

(3) Paella -- I sampled a bit of this dish, which was brought by Basildog in a groaning dish large enough to serve at least six people at an adjacent table. The rice was well-prepared, just the texture I like (less al dente than some like it), and flavorful. Basildog uses saffron admirably, with balance and restraint. The medium-sized prawns (included in the paella appropriately with shell-on) were fresh and tasty; mussels were also featured in the dish.

There was a large table of regular customers of Basildog, some of whom had vacation homes in Padstow. They were very hospitable and cheerful, and offered me tastings of some of their food and their conversation/company during a portion of the meal.

(4) Pan-Fried Turbot with Asparagus, New Potatoes and Chive Butter Sauce -- The fish was good, and had a crust of toasted sesame. I liked the gentleness of the flesh of the fish, although the sesame crust was a bit stark for me in this context. The general element of bitterness furnished by the toasted sesame was appealing, however.

(5) Rack of Lamb with Spring Onion Mash and Red Wine and Rosemary Sauce -- Basildog might have wondered, when I ordered so many dishes, whether I would have problems finishing them. I had no problems at all, happily.  The lamb dish too appealed to me. Three lamb chops were offered, with a bit of breadcrumbs along certain edges and an appropriately intense red wine reduction sauce. The mash was also good, with abundant spring onions and chives mixed in. Basildog offered me a glass of Merlot to accompany this dish.

(6) Saffron Poached Pears with Strawberry Salsa and Clotted Cream; Caramelised Lemon Tart -- The saffron poached pears about which Bux expressed interest were very well made. They were a luscious-looking yellow color and of a squattish (in a good sense), rounded, compact shape. Their flesh had a gentleness with respect to the saffron taste. Also nice hints of lemon, with which (together with white wine and sugar) the pears had been poached per Basildog. I liked this dessert, and the other ones I received.  Accompanying the pears was a delicate sliced strawberry mixture scented with mint. Plus clotted cream from the Cornwall region!

Then, I tasted the lemon tart -- nicely caramelised on top. I appreciated the acidity and tartness of Basildog's version, which had none of the artificial sweetness one sometimes finds in certain lemon tarts. Small bits of lemon peel had been integrated into the lemon custard-like part of the tart. Candied walnuts accompanied my coffee. Basildog prepared a special bag of goodies for my trip back to London -- a box of walnuts candied in-house, a loaf of bread, and Pellegrino (which came in handy during the train ride back to London).

I was very happy with the good-to-very-good meal Basildog prepared for me. Fresh ingredients, including seafood, that were displayed with "heart" in a cuisine with tonality and balance. Of course, I was also happy to have spent time with him and with Julie.

I ordered a Chablis, William Fevre 1999 (Pounds 18.50), which is described on Basildog's winelist as a classic dry white and as involving a Chardonnay showing mouthfilling fruit and good fresh minerality.

Decor and Other Information

Basildog's welcoming restaurant is called Margot's, and it is located centrally in Padstow's center, but on a smaller and quainter street. One of Basildog's suppliers is right across the street! Much of the restaurant front consists of window area, with a large basket of bread and a board with various menus being most apparent from the street. The other side of the board, visible from the inside of the restaurant, has nice kids' drawings included on it. The color themes of the restaurant are a medium, but nicely cheerful, blue (somewhat like the predominant blue in the eGullet French skin), and a medium, but tempered pink.  This color combination might not have appealed to me upon being described, but I liked the way it had been executed for some reason. The ceiling is relatively high, with one part of the upper portion of the restaurant featuring a ledge on which were stored bottles of wine, baskets, etc.

The artwork for the restaurant apparently may change, depending on local (?) exhibited artists. When I visited, there were nice depictions of slanted rooftops, with black, grey and white tones combined with blush, medium pinks and maroons. Also, other paintings showed rooftops dotted with color. There were also other relatively modern-looking color or line-based drawings. On the walls of the restaurant are also Basildog's AA Rosette 2000 and 2001 awards for culinary excellence -- deserved in my mind!

Of course, Basildog was very generous about letting me observe in his kitchen. I met the sous-chef, David, and had the pleasure of talking with a pre-delivery Julie! :raz: Julie was contributing significantly to the activities at the resaturant despite the then impending delivery of Rebecca.  The kitchen was small, but comfortable. It had a skylight-type exposure to the sky, and did not appear as uncomfortably hot as certain kitchens I had visited. Basildog has a translated inspiration thought from Paul Bocuse written on a small portion of tile! I felt very fortunate Basildog shared his kitchen with me.

Basildog also provided a tour of Padstow -- the water's edge, the exterior of Stein's seafood restaurant, and other local areas. In the hills above Padstow were the fields of one of Basildog's vegetable suppliers. The salad for my scallops included many greens from those hills. :)

The area leading to the bathroom area of Basildog's restaurant is wonderfully adorned with photos of Basildog, his wife and many of their more regular customers. Some of the photos feature past New Year's Eves, on which Basildog has many regular customers. Inside the washroom, there are more photos and copies of past menus. Also, a guest book with many warm comments. I signed it, and included a summary of the products featured in the dishes I had taken during the meal.

While I was at Basildog's, there was a delivery of fresh fish from one of Basildog's suppliers. Striking mackerel, with skin gleaming from blackish and greenish hues, arrived.  As did a large portion of fresh shark (which tempted me, because I have never tasted shark, to my recollection, although I have sampled sharks' fin on many occasions). Also, clams. Alas, I couldn't stay for dinner, due to scheduling considerations. I wanted to, though.  I watched as Basildog went to a neaby store with computers to muse on, and finalize the menu for, dinner that night.  


Padstow can be accessed, among other things, through (1) a Ryanair flight from Stanstead airport around London to Newquay (a taxi ride is required), or (2) a trainride from Paddington station in London to Bodmin Parkway (approx. 4 hours; prebook for significantly reduced fares), followed by a 15-25 minute taxi ride to Padstow (cost approx. Pounds 20 each way).

Basildog -- Sorry for the delay. My computer may have caused the loss of my original post. Fortunately, I still had my original notes for this even more detailed post.

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  • 1 year later...

Well this is dinner at Basildog's.

Margot's is yer perfect neighbourhood bistrot-friendly-relaxed, well priced, good service and hearty portions of excellent, unpretentious food. It serves 22 and on Sunday night was turning away a lot of passing trade. There's no table turning here.

It was David's night off so BD did us the honour of cooking our meal himself :shock: The kitchen is tiny but by now his much looked forward to new range will have arrived and the'll all be pouring over it hoping that they can fit it in and get it to work.

After a discussion with the friendly young server about her bad knees, olives and superb home baked herb bread arrived. The bread was so soft it was like cake and was perfect for mopping up the juices of Fahro's Seared Scallops( wonderful, juicy scallops)with Smoked Bacon and Balsamic Dressing starter.

My grilled mackerel with onion and tomato salad starter showed just how delicious this fish can be when spankingly fresh and grilled to a crisp skin.

My rack of lamb was like butter and Fahro's Duck Confit with Mustard Cream Sauce and Spring Onion Mash was the star dish and as a good an example of duck confit as I've had- again crisp on the outside and meltingly soft and tender inside and full of flavour.

What's so great about Margot's is that everything is locally sourced from good suppliers and everything is cooked on the premises from scratch- for example the caramelised walnuts and which accompanied coffee were a real treat but a faff to make. BD is running a rare kind of outfit showcasing local produce in a relaxed atmosphere for a more than reasonable price (£21.95 two courses. £25.95 three). The wine list is also really reasonable. A lovely 1997 Louis Latour Beaune Premier Cru was £26.50- and I think the most expensive red on the list! At those prices you feel like splashing out.

I was trying to think of a negative or two purely out of an innately spiteful nature and not to seem like buttering up one our own. OK maybe the sticky toffee pudding was a tad dry. But that's it.

An excellent really satisfying evening and a pleasure to meet BD again and Julie and, of course Becky.

Keep up the excellent work.

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Thanks Tony, your very kind.

you know me too well as the range is in the kitchen, and i have the biggest grin on my face!!!The restaurant looks like a building site, i have a ton of stuff to do, but the bastard is in the kitchen !The gas man will return at 8am to connect and test it.We open again at 7pm to a full house :shock: will post more later on the Range Thread

Cheers :biggrin:

edit thats 7pm wednesday not tonight...we have no gas

Edited by Basildog (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Dined at Margot's last Saturday, but I forgot to go to the loo !!!!!

It was a warm evening, and the door to the kitchen was open. Allegedly, this was to assist in air movement and keeping the kitchen cool, but it soon became clear that the real reason was so that all the punters could get a glimpse of the new range. David (Basil's chef) looked unusually smart as he moved from pose to pose beside the new range and he was clearly aware of the need not to obscure the customers' view for too long. Basil himself, a student of the flowing gesture, always seemed to finish each sentence with his hand pointing generally towards the new range, although of course that may have been mere coincidence.

In recent reviews here, I seem to have commented frequently on the tendency of chefs to create a sauce which overpowers the central ingredient of a dish rather than complementing it. At Margot's I was reminded of the fact that balance is achievable. Rack of lamb, excellent quality meat and perfectly cooked, with a truly complementary jus was what I got here, a balanced dish in which it was possible to savour the meat itself, the sauce, the vegetables, and to appreciate the skill of the chef at the same time. The "stacked potatoes" were maybe a little too rich for my taste (very very good, but too much for me to finish) but the vegetables were perfect (cauliflower, runner beans, swede and carrot steamed al dente and served beautifully in a bamboo steamer).

My starter had been an excellent (although oversized) special request dish of roasted vegetables. These included (unusually) a fabulous beetroot, not at all vinegary, with a light and subtle taste.

Then the main, which I could not help but compare to the main I had at Petrus a couple of weeks ago. This one at Margot's was simply immensely better in all respects.

Dessert was the famous (well, famous with Mrs Macro at least) poached pears in saffron, which now came with jelly and sorbet. The jelly was a great addition to a superb dish, but I thought the very cold sorbet detracted from the subtle flavours of the pears and jelly.

I sampled a glass of Spanish Sauvignon-like white, and then a South African red. The latter was described on the wine list as "youthful and jammy" and I wouldn't want to argue with that although I have no idea whatsoever what that might mean :raz:

Margot's really does have a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and eating there is quite simply a great pleasure. The bill for two with wine and coffee came to about £58, and I would struggle to think of anywhere I could enjoy such classy food at a price close to that.

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I sampled a glass of Spanish Sauvignon-like white, and then a South African red. The latter was described on the wine list as "youthful and jammy" and I wouldn't want to argue with that although I have no idea whatsoever what that might mean  :raz:

I've always taken "jammy" to mean "lots of fruit and not much else". Fine if that's what you're looking for, but not for me :smile:

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From Food and Travel today:

"The dazzle surrounding Rick Stein's seafood restuarant tends to obscure the other eateries in Padstow so it's thrilling to find little star like Margot's. A tiny bistrot just up the hill from the harbour. Beaming staff, casual furniture and changing art on the walls make it feel cosy and the food- baked sea bass with lemon, grilled sardines and mussel soup- is gloriously simple. £25

Go Basildog.

Edited by tarka (log)

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Thanks for that tarka, i knew they were doing something, but not sure what.Could you expand a little on what the whole article is about, as i have the patience of a 3 year old, and it will take a while to get my hands on a copy.. :biggrin: Cheers

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of course. it's entitled "Seaside Eateries" and "Diana Henry takes a tour of the coastal route around Britain to find the finest eatablishments serving life from the ocean waves"

it covers the whole of the uk and other local resturants to you who make it are the victory inn in st mawes, porthminster beach cafe in st ives and the carved angel in darmouth (slightly further afield)

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Olives and Homemade Bread to Start


Roasted Aubergine, Green Bean, Local Beetroot and Feta Cheese Salad

Grilled Goat’s Cheese with Roasted Peppers

Seared Scallops with Bacon and Balsamic Dressing

Grilled Mackerel with Red Onion and Tomato Salad and Truffle Oil

Warm Salad of Black Pudding with Chorizo and a Poached Egg


Roast Cod with Sun Blush Tomatoes, Anchovies and Garlic with Herb Mash

Confit of Duck with Mustard Cream Sauce and Spring Onion Mash

Pan Fried Brill with Spinach, Cornish New Potatoes and Chive butter Sauce

Rack Of Lamb with Herb Crust, Stacked Potatoes and Rosemary Jus

Baked Skate Wing with Capers and Cornish New Potatoes


Saffron Poached Pear with Sorbet and Jelly

Warm Chocolate Tart with Clotted Cream

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Lemon and Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Salsa

Selection of British Cheese

Coffee or Tea with Petite Fours £1.95

2 courses £18.50 3 Courses £21.95

Thats Todays Lunch Menu..the one on line is a bit old :biggrin:

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Baked Skate Wing with Capers and Cornish New Potatoes


god i love skate wing with capers and butter...i don't think i've ever had it baked though. how long do she stay in the oven - roughly?

now i'm getting hungry - and the day deserves a glass of wine for lunch!


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  • 1 month later...

Dinner at Margot's 24 July 2003

Having spent 12 or so hours in the kitchens at Margot’s (see here for details), I was looking forward to a relaxed evening in the dining room. A pre-dinner drink at the harbour side Old Custom House pub saw me make a super human effort and not introduce myself to Rick Stein who was getting in a round whilst I sat supping a pint at the bar. A good networking opportunity I know, but he looked so determined not to talk to anyone I thought I'd best take the hint.

Although Margot's is small, tables are well spaced and rarely, if ever, turned. Adrian makes a very welcoming host, and seems to gain as much pleasure from serving his customers as he does cooking for them. The menu is short and full of good stuff to eat, as you can see here. I chose the special of mackerel caught that day served with tomato and red onion salad, the wife going for the scallops with bacon and balsamic.

Really spanking fresh mackerel simply grilled, as it was here, is as much of a treat as wild bass or salmon in my opinion. The pair dished up to me were cooked to perfection. Gill's five scallops had been similarly treated and finished with a butter enriched pan sauce spiked with the vinegar.

The Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru from Margot's excellent wine list slipped down without too much effort and matched the food well. Mark up over retail prices are very low indeed by industry standards, enabling you to drink as well as you eat. A rare thing indeed.

Mains of cod and lamb were generously proportioned plates of the sort of food you wish every "backstreet bistro" would have the good taste and intelligence to serve. The fish was of a sufficient thickness to allow it to roast properly without drying out the flesh. This was spread with a mixture of sun blush tomatoes, marinated (not tinned) anchovies and garlic which lent an agreeable piquancy to the dish. Herb mash and a good butter sauce made me want to finish the every last mouthful, although I ultimately failed in my ambition.

The rosy pink lamb came in the form of a herb crusted rack carved and resting on "stacked" potatoes i.e. sliced, mixed with onions and cooked in lots and lots of butter. The result is like a huge pile of the topper most spuds from a hotpot. Man (and in this case woman) cannot live by Dave's rosemary bread alone, but in addition must gorge themselves on stacked potatoes. The meat was meltingly tender, but full of lamby flavour, enhanced by a glisteningly clear jus. Although richly coloured, this was not an over- reduced sticky sauce and therefore did its job of adding interest and lubrication without stealing the show.

Margot's employ any number of local suppliers for their produce, with even the bamboo steamer of vegetables consisting mostly of whatever has been delivered that day. These are simply blanched in a vat of boiling water to order and quite rightly draw numerous compliments.

A short break was in order before dessert, which gave us the opportunity to try a glass of the delicious house Pico Alto Sauvignon Blanc as the Monterachet was a goner by this point.

Margot's menu is made up of many favorites, but none more so than the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce, made to the Sharrow Bay recipe, which Gill made disappear with consummate ease. I went for the saffron poached pear with clotted cream and jelly, a near equal in popularity and a very fine note on which to end the meal. Yet more booze, in the form of Elysium Black Muscat, accompanied the puddings. The bill for all of this was £88.00 plus service, although we benefited from a wine "upgrade".

If Brighton had a bistro that diligently sourced the best local produce and treated it with respect, employed the appropriate amount of creativity but lacked even a hint of hubris; if it had a wine list full of interesting bottles keenly priced and served it all up in comfortable surroundings with staff that fully understood the concept of hospitality, then you would know where to find me most days of the week.

As it is, there are precious few places in the entire country fitting that description. The 6 hour drive from my home to Padstow means that I will necessarily be an irregular customer at Margot's, but the occasions I do manage to get there will be greatly treasured.

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Thanks for that Andy.

Just for background, the mackerel was caught by a customer from lunch who was a bit pushed for time as they were going on a fishing trip.I jokingly said " do bring us some back" and blow me, they returned at 4pm with a bag of mackerel :biggrin:

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I must declare an interest in your review, Andy, as the wine man responsible for Basildog's list. BUT...

What an excellent restaurant review. Excellent comparison with the East Sussex desert where you clearly have to find some small comfort in the mediocrity of the cuisine.


Padstow, Cornwall

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