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.
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.
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.