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Book review: The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard

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Book review: The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard

One of the UK’s hottest restaurants is also one of its most unassuming and laid back.

The journey to the Hidden Hut, tucked away on a coastal path between St Mawes and Portscatho, above Porthcurnick Beach on Cornwall’s remote Roseland Peninsula, is not for the fainthearted.

Those who do make the trek are duly rewarded with stunning views and the freshest food, cooked and served in an unpretentious manner. The demand is phenonomal – 22,000 people applied for 600 feast night covers last summer, and tickets sold out within minutes.

Simon Stallard and his partner Jemma Glass clearly tapped into the zeitgeist when they opened the Hidden Hut eight years ago, as they have with the publication of this book. The Hidden Hut is divided into four sections – dawn, noon, dusk and afters – reflecting the nature of Stallard’s unique operation and also what the chef likes to cook at home. So for breakfast he may serve smoky bacon pastries with Cornish Brie and cranberry relish or buttermilk drop cakes with lemon curd.

Lunchtime dishes include roast squash and cauliflower dhal and salt cod and tomato stew with sourdough toasts when the weather is blustery, or fried buttermilk chicken with a salsa of watermelon and charred romaine lettuce or in a bun on a sunny day. Dishes cooked at dusk over the open fire can all be easily scaled up to cater for large numbers, be it whole baked turbot with tenderstem broccoli and potato galette, seafood paella, or sticky ribs with creamed mash, caraway-roasted carrots, crispy potato skins and gravy.

To finish, there are recipes inspired by Stallard’s mother-in-law, who bakes cakes for the Hidden Hut, among which the strawberry bake and Tatams’ bread pudding (with croissants, dried cranberries and chocolate) caught my eye. As Stallard says, the dishes he cooks don’t follow any particular cuisine: they simply represent “Cornish soul food”.

The Hidden Hut provides a heartfelt insight into one of the UK’s most intriguing and sought-after food ventures – the only thing it’s lacking is sand, sea and sun.

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard Harper Collins, £20
Try one of the recipes from the book here

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