2 Fore Street has, quite rightly, built up a fabulous reputation for serving up seriously good, seriously local, French bistro-style delights. Gloriously unpretentious, the restaurant sits at right angles to the harbour, happily monopolising quite possibly the best views in Mousehole. 2 Fore Street started life, long-ago, as the village stores and without a doubt, the best seats to secure are those nestled within the original plump shop windows. Airy and bright; the whitewashed floorboards, wooden tables and contemporary local artwork give the place a simple understated seaside-chic feel. With the brightly coloured boats bobbing back-and-forth in the harbour and views on a good day stretching right across Mounts Bay to the Lizard, it really is a rather special spot.
Raymond Blanc trained chef and owner Joe, has consistently served-up beautifully executed, yet refreshingly straightforward dishes since he opened in 2007. A strong emphasis on all things fishy (with saltwater practically lapping at the doorstep, this should come as no surprise) but with catering for the carnivorous and herbivores alike. I can happily vouch for the Cornish rib-eye steak & béarnaise sauce which comes with just the right amount of hugely chunky, hand cut chips. Joe sources all his meat from local organic and award winning butchers Vivian Olds, and as I always order steak ‘blue’, there is very little room for rib-eye-error. Scrumptious.
On this occasion my dinner date is my new friend (another Jo), a glamorous American, both perfectly seasoned and well versed in the very finest of dining here and across the pond. I knew 2 Fore Street would not disappoint; and of course it didn’t. Whilst the restaurant was hardly buzzing on this wild, wet and windy Friday in February (in the summer season you are well advised to book in advance) the ambient candlelit glow and the heavenly smell of garlicky-magic wafting in from the kitchen gave us the warmest of welcomes.
Specials are chalked up daily on the slate board and we hungrily choose the sea bass and a saffron fish Stew; with both mains coming in at under £16 a head, prices are far from silly. To kick-start I went for a chicken-liver pate (£5.75) with Joe’s own bread (I find it very hard to resist this retro-starter if I spot it on a menu) and the marmalady-onion jam made for a winning pairing. Girl Jo’s Newlyn pan-fried scallops looked plump and succulent in their buttery lemon juice (£6.75) and they must have been, as she didn’t fancy sharing … I believe my dinner date’s sea bass to have been adorned with pepperonata, but to be honest I was far too involved with my bountiful pile of gloriously fresh fish stew topped with the fattest of mussels, to notice. This was most certainly a fork AND spoon effort; not first date food but finger-licking good. The richest aioli exquisitely cut through the saffron, laden stew with its creamy garlic sheen (again, first date-unfriendly) and together we happily polished off a perfectly chilled bottle of something Marlborough Savvy-Blancish, I know, should have remembered to write it down, but 2 Fore Street have an ample and interesting selection of wines within a sensible price range too.
A devout chocoholic, Jo assured me her chocolate torte was up there with the best of them (£5). Still on a garlicky-high and with little space for pudding having greedily devoured my fish stew; I opted for a black coffee, although the selection of local cheeses very nearly twisted my arm.
The menu changes daily largely depending on the days catch. Whenever the sun is shining, the south facing courtyard garden is the perfect spot for an open Newlyn crab sandwich or simply a coffee and a slice of something decadent whilst you ponder the Sunday supplements.