Why Rick Stein Doesn’t have a Michelin Star

13 Jul

They looked puzzled and began to whisper amongst themselves.  My little brow furrowed.  I guessed what was coming.  No…they did not have a table booked for us this evening.  They were apologetic and began to frantically check their schedule.  I could hear …”if we…” and “we could move…” but I guessed they were struggling.

I said, “Don’t worry we can sit at the bar and eat”…the default position at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant for those without a booking.  We had done it last year so we weren’t too bothered…for the minute.

Gratitude oozed from the front of house staff.  Sadly this was all that oozed.

Having helped them out of a sticky jam it did cross my mind that we might be offered the odd complimentary drink, maybe even a free puddy or the odd lobster in a doggy bag to nibble on the way home.  Maybe that was being a bit optimistic…and mercenary.  OK, at minimum they would no doubt take special care to look after such obliging customers. 

I thought this as I stared at the whale like bones which were the remains of my turbot.  They had been there for some time now and I was beginning to wonder how long they would remain festering 6” from my eyeballs.   You must remember J and I were sitting at the bar which has the effect of – food higher – bum lower.  Here you are face to face with your food.

I disappeared off to the Gents in the hope that it would have been fed to the harbour’s numerous herring gulls by the time I returned.  The skeletal turbot grinned happily on my return…it had obviously missed me.  I was touched.   

Hmmm, I looked around.  Rose tinted glasses off…critical eye now appraising Mr Stein’s flagship restaurant.

Tables too close together given prices charged.

£65 tasting menu looked very similar (if not identical) to last years – smacks of laziness.

Staff more concerned about their own issues (re our “non” booking) than their customers and there is no doubt that you become less of a priority when sitting at the bar.  Particularly galling in our case…as we had made a booking.

A number of fish dishes (ours included) came with a couple of boiled potatoes and a “melange” of vegetables.  The pretentious “melange” comprised a small bowl with a couple of tiny boiled carrots, broad beans, runner beans and peas.  Minimum effort…and sadly minimum taste.

On the plus side the starters of crab, samphire and asparagus salad and deep fried prawn stuffed courgette flowers with chilli dip…were excellent.  We both had the turbot with hollandaise sauce which again was beautifully cooked though I felt the rich hollandaise was congealing a bit and close to overpowering the turbot.  Least said about the vegetables the better.

So, summing up…I don’t think we shall return.  Cooking can be excellent but I was most disappointed by the lack of change to the tasting menu.  This smacks of stagnation…and raking it in.  This is a real money-spinner of a restaurant but its customer focus is not what it should be.

Go to Sam’s on the Beach at Polkerris.  Maybe the cooking isn’t quite as sophisticated, but it is very good and it’s a lot cheaper.  Most of all they value your custom with a team of excellent young staff.  After our second visit the woman who was front of house apologised to us as we left for not having time to pop over and see us.  She thanked us for coming again.  That’s how you do it!

I must check to see if A.A. Gill has reviewed Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant.  Hopefully that last line should pull in a few extra bodies from Google!


Posted by on July 13, 2010 in General Drivel


19 responses to “Why Rick Stein Doesn’t have a Michelin Star

  1. Linda

    July 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I clearly have too much time on my hands so I found the following links:…/restaurants/…/Rick-Steins-Seafood-Restaurant-in-Padstow.html

    Seems on both reviews there is a problem with booking a table. I can’t seem to find any reviews from The Times food critic A.A. Gill though.

    Google throws up some very strange stuff when I typed in ‘reviews for Rick Stein’s restaurant’. It seems Rick’s dog died last year, he and his wife have gone through a divorce and his son was arrested. What these topics have to do with restaurant reviews is beyond me!

  2. fatdogwalks

    July 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Well done Linda – we’ll make you our official researcher 😀 .

    There’s a wee problem with the Telegraph link – looks like it’s been nobbled! Maybe Mr S. had it removed in anticipation 😆 .

  3. Tessa Park

    July 15, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Interesting – I love Cornwall and have been there several times but never been to Rick Stein’s. Really must go back at some point.

  4. Linda

    July 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Ken

    I think this is the correct link for the Telegraph review:

    I like the sound of ‘official researcher’ 😀

  5. fatdogwalks

    July 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Cornwall’s a great place to visit Tessa. Unfortunately the weather has been a bit unreliable this year so we haven’t been out on the coastal path 😦 .

    Thanks for sorting out the link Linda – it works fine now 😀 . You get to keep your new title 😆 😉
    Reading the Telegraph review I see that someone else was not impressed with the front of house service!

    Noticed my first 2 visits today from someone looking for a review on Rick Stein’s restaurant- I must be marching my way up the Google rankings 😆 .

  6. Paul

    July 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed watching Rick Stein on the telly Ken but I think if I went to his restaurant I would probably be a bit disappointed if he wasn’t cooking my supper in person.

    I wonder if restaurant critics Jay Rayner, Martin Ivens, David Sexton, Giles Coren, Simon Usborne, John Walsh, Marina O’Loughlin, Pascal Wyse or Veronica Simpson have been to Rick Steins?

    Maybe Linda could check them out?

    Good luck with the Googly things!

  7. fatdogwalks

    July 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I’m sure Linda’s on the case as we speak Paul 😆 !!!
    I haven’t even started to look yet.

    I imagine it’s been a long time since RS was actually working in the restaurant.

  8. Linda

    July 15, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I think I’ve made a bit of a name for myself here! 😀

    I’ve also seen Rick on TV and have been very impressed. However, as is the way with most celebrity chefs, he probably has other ongoing concerns.

    Since I’m not one to pass up a challenge, (it can’t be as bad as climbing the Aonach Eagach!), I will see what I can find regarding the aforementioned critics Paul.

  9. Linda

    July 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm

  10. fatdogwalks

    July 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks Linda, youre really earning your below-minimum wage for all your effort 😀 .

    We’re just heading out …again…so just enough time to say Nathan Outlaw’s was superb. Fantastic food.

    I’ll check out the links when we get back. Thanks again 😀

  11. fatdogwalks

    July 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm

  12. Paul

    July 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Linda, I found the Aonach Eagach not half as bad as the reviews said it would be!
    Having said that it was a lovely sunny day with little wind.

    Looks like you are taking the job of official researcher very seriously despite Ken’s offer of monitory rewards.

  13. Alex

    July 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I can sympathise with your treatment Ken having myself just undergone a similar culinary experience recently.
    Waited 30 minutes for a fish supper from the mobile chippy in Bowmore on Islay a few days ago only to be given something that looked like fish but tasted like wet cardboard.
    Cost me all of £4.20 as well and not even a bar stool to sit at…!
    Alex 🙂

  14. fatdogwalks

    July 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Alex…that’s truly shocking! 😯

    You…a chippy????

    I’m horrified! 😆

  15. Mark

    July 9, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I’ve been to his restaurant recently and I have to say the food was better than any of the Michelin star restaurants I’ve attended. The staff were friendly and not at all stuffy. They were attentive and most of all human.

  16. Ken Brown

    July 9, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Mark, glad to hear you enjoyed your visit. 😀

    We’d had a great meal here the previous summer but on this occasion I’m afraid it was all very disappointing…a shame because we’d really been looking forward to the evening. I would hope things have improved over the past 3 years since I posted this review.

    From what we discovered from other comments/reviews there seemed to be an ongoing problem with lost bookings. Sadly I wasn’t able to comment on how friendly the staff were on that visit as we didn’t see very much of them and the ones we did have contact with we’re more interested in us helping them out as opposed to ensuring we had an enjoyable visit. It wasn’t as if we offended anyone…we were very nice about the whole thing with not so much as a cross word or look so even 3 years on I am still appalled that they made so little effort to look after us. I would hope it was just a one-off situation but I suspect they were having a dodgy season given other reviews.

    Restaurants are so much down to personal taste eg Tom Kitchen’s Michelin star restaurant in Leith is much hyped but we ate there a couple of times a few years ago and both times were disappointed.

    Good to hear from someone…even 3 years after this was posted. 😆 Did you try any of the other famous eateries in the area?

  17. kayakjournal

    December 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    We didn’t go to the main restaurant, but we did stay at the Cafe and eat there, as well as eating at the fish & chips place. I found the food at the cafe really good, and I loved the banter with the staff and complete lack of stuffiness. Not being flush with money I’m not a big frequenter of “famous chef” or Michelin starred restaurants. So we can’t afford to go to such places and find them to be rubbish. So I was relieved that it was worth it.

    One place I can recommend if you are in the Gloucestershire area and like all things fishy, is the Old Passage Inn. It doesn’t have a Michelin star, but it should!

  18. Ken Brown

    December 20, 2016 at 11:06 am

    My goodness – it’s 6 years since I posted this so it’s a wee bit out of date but thanks for taking the trouble to comment. Glad you had a good visit to Padstow! I’ll keep your restaurant tip in mind the next time I’m down Gloustershire way…always glad of a recommendation. A fish restaurant we have been eating in regularly over the past few years is Fisher’s in Leith (Edinburgh) so if you are up this way you might want to give it a try. Thanks again for posting. 😀

  19. Andy

    September 28, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I visited the restaurant last summer during a golfing holiday. ..and I have to admit I was massively underwelmed. ..a crispy makerel starter that could have been any number of deep fried something or other…very poor with the 14 English pounds cost adding to the feeling of having ones trousers pulled from beneath them! Well I did have a juicy rib eye to look forward too I suppose….and what came was indeed a rib eye…but judging by its size it had been farmed from a jack russel ( sorry dog lovers!)..taste…errmm OK. ..but for £40 I expected and indeed deserved so much more in my opinion. So my view…I tried It and can say I have been…but would I go again…well….you can draw your own conclusion.


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