The Porthminster Kitchen – best breakfast in St Ives?

Peter Hutchinson

You probably already know this wonderful restaurant that sits above the St Ives harbour – up from the crowds of summer and equally tucked away in the quieter months.

I like its feel, I like the soft colours and Anthony Frost prints, and whether you’re eating or sitting at the bar for a drink, you are always made to feel hugely welcome by all the staff. I also love the nearly-see-into-kitchen that keeps the bustle of preparing food just on the edge of what you can watch, while never being intrusive. There’s something about catching a glimpse of a relaxed inspired kitchen that settles you into the ease of the restaurant itself.

It is my favourite place for breakfast this side of Bristol; although to be honest, I’m trying to think of all the places I can remember beyond Exeter, other than service stations. A side thought – where are the decent transport cafes nowadays or has the awful Starbucks stolen them from us?

But back to the blog: The Porthminster Kitchen opens at 8.30am for coffee, with breakfast served from nine, and the choices on the menu are exactly right, from home made granola to a great ‘fry-up’. It goes without saying that everything is freshly cooked and entirely locally sourced. They don’t bat-an-eyelid (as no restaurant should nowadays) if you’re vegetarian or vegan even, and can happily cater and adapt to exactly what you want. There are also daily papers, an open fire and free internet, all of which enhance this quiet space. Personally I have never been much of a one for eating outside, but the Kitchen has a small terrace (with heaters) that is intimate enough so you are neither overheard or overlooked, and where you are also welcome to let the family dog join you.

I have loved it since it opened, for breakfast, lunch or supper, but breakfast’s have become a bit of an addiction. Favourites are the scrambled eggs on focaccia (not the healthiest of options … lots of butter and of course no milk in the mix), the kippers (from the Severn and Wye smokery) on a ‘bed’ of fresh spinach with naked tartare, or the huge Vegetarian Fry-up (whether you are one or not); the home made Granola is also a treat – slightly salty with a yoghurt and fruit compote.

In fact we like it so much, we have a weekly get-together on a Thursday for ‘men’s eggs’ – a few of us resident boys at 9am. As a breakfast regular, I’ve have also noticed the nuances of the kitchen as to which chef is in, and I like that very much; the essence of what you choose will always be the same but there are those slight changes in flavour that take you by surprise.

So much of St Ives is about views … well, what could be more enchanting than this one; up one floor to make it even better, and facing northeast so the morning sun hammers across the harbour as you face it. Sun, rain, tide in or out, it is incredibly beautiful. As we understand it, a number of successful marriage proposals have taken place on their terrace at this time of day too.

Now … alcohol at breakfast? I’m trying to ease into this one as it feels like something the health and safety police might question. But, if you’re still there after (let’s say) 11.30am surely the time is right? Recommendations. Try their own Consome Bloody Mary with a chilled base of filtered cucumber, tomatoes and basil … utterly perfect if you’re a vodka drinker, and without that overpowering bottled tomato taste. If you’re feeling flush, have another coffee with the 1982 de Sigognac Bac Armagnac - nectar although a glass will double the bill, or the Sabourin No.35 Cognac – exceptionally pure unblended grande champagne, and sure to make the day bounce.

If you’re a gentleman and staying at the Sail Lofts luxury apartments in St Ives, and free on a Thursday morning, come and join us, although we may ‘ponce’ an Armagnac from you for the privilege of your company when the plates have been cleared.

The Porthminster Kitchen, Wharf Road, St Ives. 01736 799874

Open 7 days a week

Breakfast (9.00-11.00am), Lunch (12.00-3.00pm), Supper and cocktails (from 5.30pm)