Situated 25 miles off the coast of Cornwall, the Tean restaurant at St Martin's is closing in on its aim to achieve the first Michelin star on the Isles of Scilly. Gaby Huddart reports
No restaurant in the Isles of Scilly has ever held a Michelin star, but with the Michelin Great Britain & Ireland 2007 guide categorising the Tean restaurant at St Martin's on the Isle hotel as a Rising Star, head chef Kenny Atkinson hopes to change that very soon.
Atkinson, whose career boasts spells at the Greenway hotel in Cheltenham, Cotswold House hotel in Chipping Campden and Foliage in London, became head chef at St Martin's on the Isle in May last year. It's a job that appealed because he "wanted something on a bigger scale", he explains.
"At the Greenway, I was head chef of a 40-seat restaurant and felt I had taken it as far as I could. But at St Martin's I oversee both the Tean restaurant and the Round Island Bar & Bistro. Both are open daily from the beginning of April until the end of October. We can serve 100 diners in the bistro, and in the restaurant we serve 40-55 diners daily."
Added to this, the lovely island lifestyle was also a major attraction for Atkinson. "There's no crime on the island and it's absolutely beautiful, so I can't think of a better place for my son, Aaron, to grow up," he says. "And as an ambitious chef, it's perfect as there are few distractions here and I can completely focus on my food."
One of Atkinson's key drives since joining the hotel has been to focus more on local produce. "Food miles are a huge issue at the moment and I also want to support the local economy, so I spent the winter sourcing local suppliers and this year's menus boast lots of produce from the islands and from Devon and Cornwall," he says. "Our duck eggs come from someone on St Martin's and I also now get lettuce, baby carrots, beans, mange-tout, potatoes and herbs on the island, while three local fishermen catch for me."
Supported by a nine-strong brigade at the fine-dining Tean restaurant, Atkinson offers a set-price menu (three courses for £42.50) that boasts seven starters, seven mains and four desserts, plus cheese. "The menu changes daily, with two dishes at each course coming off and two coming on. It's essential to do this because some guests come to the hotel for two weeks and eat in the restaurant every evening, so want to try something different each time."
Among the starters, there's always a soup for diners wanting something light: butternut squash velouté with coriander and toasted squash seeds, and creamed cauliflower and sorrel velouté have both recently appeared on menus.
Meanwhile, Scillonian brill with lemon-poached St Martin's lobster and new-potato salad, and Launceston pork cheeks with creamed parsnip purée, buttered spring onions and razor clams, have been among recent starters. Among mains, Atkinson says fish always sells most strongly and dishes might typically include braised fillet of local turbot with risotto of St Martin's crab, new season asparagus and shellfish sauce.
For the carnivorous, there's the likes of roast loin and braised leg of Bodmin lamb with pea and mint purée, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, young leeks and rosemary sauce.
And Atkinson also always offers three vegetarian options at main course, with recent dishes having included tagliatelle of mixed wild mushrooms with truffled mascarpone cheese and Parmesan crackling, and risotto of fennel, broad beans and coriander with braised young carrots and ginger emulsion.
The cheeseboard is entirely dedicated to varieties from Cornwall, Devon and the West Country, while desserts will include both light (raspberry, orange and elderflower jelly with creamed vanilla mascarpone) and heavier options (warm dark chocolate and marmalade tart with milk sorbet and butterscotch sauce).
What's on the menu
Three courses, £42.50
- St Martin's crab and brown shrimp salad, cured organic salmon and creamed avocado purée
- Smoked West Country duck breast with pickled peaches, salad of confit leg and sautéd foie gras
- Roasted and marinated Cornish red mullet with mackerel rillette and pickled vegetable dressing
- Home-salted Scillonian pollack with a clam and mussel chowder
- Line-caught Cornish sea bass with ravioli of St Martin's crab, sweet pepper and olive dressing, basil foam
- Braised shoulder of St Just beef, creamed horseradish and potato purée, young carrots, baby onions and red wine sauce
- Lemon and vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb jelly, poached rhubarb, fresh raspberries and rhubarb syrup
- Iced apricot parfait with poached apricots and toasted almond ice-cream
- Caramelised fig tart tatin with liquorice ice-cream and red wine syrup
St Martin's on the Isle Hotel & Restaurant, Lower Town, St Martin's, Isles of Scilly TR25 0QW.
Tel: 01720 422092
http://www.stmartins hotel.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.stmartins hotel.co.uk