It’s been a good 2014 for me when it comes to food. I’ve eaten well across Europe, stuffed my fat face in some of the best restaurants in the country and started the small matter of this food blog. My waistline has expanded so that I can get my overinflated ego out to the small number that read my opinions and then dismiss them immediately as garbage. Or at least I hope. I set up this trivial little hobby because I love any excuse to eat out and to share my thoughts on food. It was never intended to be taken too seriously. Part of the fun of going somewhere new is the fear of the unknown – the same applies to food, and in a kind of masochistic way I have enjoyed the howlers almost as much the ones that dazed me for being so good. It says a lot about how tragic my life is when I tell you that one of my favourite hobbies is to find new places to eat. As we were in Cornwall for New Year, I did a little browsing and decided that Little Plates in Wadebridge was to be our last meal of the year.
I would love to lay claim on Little Plates and tell you that I knew 2014’s last supper would be cracker when I booked it. In truth it was selected because on paper it looked to be the best of a bad bunch that was within walking distance of our hotel. The menu was a fairly unappealing mix of standard tapas dishes with enough on there to feed the girlfriend before she pounded the G&T’s later on in the night.
And this is where the magic happens; we arrived and it was fan-bloody-tastic. The building is a simple room, quirkily designed with bright walls which adorn little plates, and an open view into the kitchen to watch two chefs working tirelessly. The service was brisk but friendly, with Kate our waitress particularly brilliant.
It was always going to be good once the bread came. Served with the bread, which itself was fine, was a white gazpacho dip of stunning quality. Sharp with sherry vinegar and with gentle heat from garlic, I would have been content with a basket of bread and a large bowl of this.
Following this the dishes came rapidly with probably the dish of the evening; two lemon sole fillets, perfectly cooked and simply dressed with with olive oil and lightly pickled red pepper. It was a brave piece of cooking that showcased the fish, as fresh as you get, at its finest. The lightly pickled pepper bringing just enough acidity and character to the plate.
Afterwords came in a master class in the staples of the Med. Arancini, subtlety flavoured with saffron and filled with mozzarella, was fried to golden brown and still had rice with a little bite. Padron Peppers that came daintily dressed with olive oil and sea salt were as good as any I’ve had. Even the new potatoes were taken to new levels in a green mojo dressing that was heavy on garlic and lemon juice. Little Plates excel at big flavours.
Lamb Pinxtos skewers had meat with a good char which was deftly flavoured with cumin and smoked paprika. Bruschetta had great flavour thanks to some excellent tomatoes that were both fresh and cooked down to a ragout. A simple dish of wilted spinach with feta and preserved lemon added colour and light. Only a pork belly dish failed to impress, which, despite the zingy thai inspired salad, was underwhelming and a little too chewy.
Desserts were also of a high standard: Soft churros were the perfect foil for the dark chocolate sauce, whilst an Eton Mess was given the North African treatment of rose water and pistachios that made perfect sense when combined.
The bill crept in at under £90 for the three of us with the addition of a bottle of white and a carafe of red, which is outstanding value for the quality of food served. We left full and happy that we had left our best meal in Cornwall to the last. I can think of no bigger compliment than if Little Plates were in Birmingham I would be there every week. It really is that good.