Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

The Hidden Hut Revealed

I have great pleasure in welcoming CT to my blog for his annual guest review. Crafter of language, food pioneer, gardener, botanist extraordinaire and eater of cakes, he can now be found at From our Owen Correspondent as well as at his well established blog Radix. From our Owen Correspondent is a new blog featuring various tracts from his writing career on such varied subjects as fermented foods, travels around Australasia and garden visits.


In spring, a young man’s thoughts are said to turn to love. In autumn, I find a good stroll along the Cornish coast path serves just as well as a means of delighting the senses and stocking up on joie de vivre before the winter sets in.  So when Choclette suggested a walk along the Roseland Peninsula one sunny and calm day recently, I jumped at the opportunity.  Roseland is a pleasant, beckoning finger of land that juts out into the sea on Cornwall’s south coast between Falmouth and Mevagissey.  The coast path here has less of the patella-pummelling ups and downs which characterise some sections. I hardly know this area at all, so it seemed like a good chance to make its acquaintance.


Rather than portray this as a gentle trek for the middle aged across the beaches and along the cliffs, my vanity dictates that I dress things up in slightly more heroic garb; let’s call it another in a series of impromptu ethnobotanical walks – where I brush up on my floral identification skills and try and recall the various uses made of the plants in days gone by. I occasionally nibble on a leaf or two, but anyone who knows me will confirm that this is hardly sufficient inducement to persuade me to drag my frame on a forced route march of several miles, no matter how stunning the scenery. No, I prefer to combine some foraging with at least one stop in a well-appointed tea room or café for proper refuelling. I mean, have you actually tried raw seakale shoots? Choclette is astute enough to know, that like snakes and numerous armies, I too march on my stomach, so she mentioned that a café stop, at a place called the Hidden Hut was part of the deal; she’d heard good things about it.

We parked up at Pendower, not far from the Nare Head Hotel and duly set off. The sky was cloudless and the sea had that strange glassy quality that seems to come with calm conditions; the waves lapping on the shore made scarcely a murmur.   There were few other walkers around and we enjoyed the sensation of peace and isolation in a majestic setting. It was hard to imagine a better way to work up an appetite. 

After walking steadily for some time, we rounded a headland and before us, a few hundred yards away was Porthcurnick Beach, the home of The Hidden Hut. Indeed, we could see a squat wooden structure with a few chairs and tables placed around it just above the strand.  More alarmingly, as I was beginning to suffer pangs of hunger and my throat was distinctly dry, the shutters seemed to be closed.  We both exchanged anxious glances as we continued down the path and approached the beach. Then, with impeccable timing, as we crossed the sand, the shutters lifted and so did our spirits.


We plonked our bags on one of the large wooden tables, decorated with vases of flowers and proceeded to the counter.  Choclette opted for a reviving mug of chai and the inevitable chocolate brownie, while I went for a more prosaic Earl Grey which I followed up with a Roskilly’s ice cream – from the lovely Jersey cows not so far away on the Lizard. 


It was abundantly clear that this was no ordinary beach hut café.  Not a single all day breakfast featured on the menu. In fact, al fresco gourmet dining seemed more like it – quite a surprise given the unadventurous fare walkers often have to endure when tramping the coast path.  


The hut itself is owned by the National Trust and has apparently occupied the site since WWII.  Hidden may be pushing it somewhat – it doesn’t look as though it would have presented any difficulties for a U boat captain intent on target practice.

In its current incarnation it is run by Jemma and Simon, a local couple, with Jemma’s mum, Maggie offering logistical support on the cake front.  Their policy is a simple one: the best local food, prepared with love and care, for a reasonable price. And the punters have voted with their feet – literally – there’s no parking at the Hidden Hut, so everyone has to walk there, either from Portscatho, about half a mile away, or from nearby Rosevine Hill. And after the relative isolation of the walk, there did seem to be quite a few people gravitating towards this rather unpromising looking shack.  Simon is a trained chef and in addition to the fare served during normal hours, he also cooks up a storm in summer (when the weather doesn’t) with great paella pans for summer evening feasts. 

Jemma started to chalk up the lunch menu on the blackboards and we exchanged glances once again. The weather was lovely, the location superb and the offerings very tempting. Hang it, we thought, let’s stay for lunch now we’re here.    


Choclette opted for a delicious vegetarian option, a salad of tangerine, feta, Spanish olives, mixed leaves and toasted almonds with warm pitta bread; I went for Italian meatballs with mozzarella. Both were truly delicious and consumed with gusto. Eating outdoors is a real delight and is in fact the only option here.


Refuelled, we proceeded to march on to St Anthony Head, stopping at the fort to take in views of Falmouth and St Mawes, before returning via the inland route to Portscatho. If truth be told, I was feeling pretty weary by this time and longed for a sit down. Descending to the Hidden Hut once more, I prayed that this last homely house would be open for refreshments before we lugged ourselves over the last leg of our journey. It was indeed, so I had another pot of tea and an ice cream chaser before carting my weary bones back to the car and home.

When the weather is with you, as it was on the day we visited, I can think of no better place to work up an appetite and eat some first class food in a lovely setting. In fact, if the wind and rain hold off, we’re going back this weekend with some friends. 

I’m sure my mum told me that you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover; in future I will avoid doing the same to any hidden huts on the Cornish coast – because at least one of them is a real gem.

PS The wind and rain did hold off, we did go back with our friends yesterday and we had a celebratory birthday lunch in bright sunshine; everyone was as impressed as we had been.

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Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Choclette
    7th October 2012

    Thanks Chele – we were so lucky to get such glorious weather on both visits.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Janice
    7th October 2012

    Oh that really makes me want to be in Cornwall. I always think beaches are much nicer once the tourists have started to disappear. The Hidden Hut is a real gem, what gorgeous lunches you had, not surprised you were willing to hike (or should that be stroll?) along the cliffs and beaches with that goal in mind. A lovely guest post.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th October 2012

      Indeed Janice, we tend to stay clear of the hot spots in the summer, but even at it’s height we can usually find somewhere that is pretty much deserted. Definitely a hike – in between the eating 😉

  3. Leave a Reply

    belleau kitchen
    7th October 2012

    ahh, man what a great day out and how brilliantly written by CT… like Janice that just makes me yearn for Cornwall… lovely lovely stuff x

  4. Leave a Reply

    Karen S Booth
    7th October 2012

    I miss Cornwall already – I tweeted you hoping we could meet up last week, but you must have missed them; I was in Padstow (via Bodmin station) last Wednesday and Thursday, at Rick Stein’s Cookery School…..loved it, stayed at the Old Ship Inn……and this post has just brought it all back! Karen

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th October 2012

      Yes, I got your tweet from Bodmin station while I was at work Karen. I did reply. Glad you had a good time in Padstow. Try and give me a bit more notice next time and we might actually manage to meet 😉

  5. Leave a Reply

    laura@howtocookgoodfood
    7th October 2012

    Well CT certainly knows how to sell Cornwall to us all. Even though I know it well in certain pets, I am truly envious of The Hidden Hut. You really are so lucky to have such a gem to enjoy. A lovely post which represents all that is good about where you live x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th October 2012

      It was an idyllic day – sadly we didn’t get many of them this year.

  6. Leave a Reply

    A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate
    9th October 2012

    Lovely post, the photos just capture the atmosphere (can taste the sea salt) and what wonderful knowledge CT has, have just been looking at his other blogs…amazing! x

  7. Leave a Reply

    Susan Lindquist
    9th October 2012

    Oh! I love Cornwall. It is one of the places on this Earth that I yearn to return to … the little hidden huts are such cool surprises to come upon when one pokes around along the coast! I’d have gone for that salad and pita too! With maybe a side of some of the hummus!

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