Andy Lynes reports
The triangular pieces of John Dory sitting on a neat mound of Indian spiced chana dal (£7.95) look like they've been filleted with a scalpel. They've been cooked on the plancha with to-the-second precision and have the clean, bright flavour of fish fresh from the sea. It's a fabulously enjoyable plate and begs the question, is anyone cooking better seafood dishes than Bruce Rennie?
As former head chef of Rick Stein's restaurant in Porthleven and the Gurnard's Head in St Ives, it's no surprise that Rennie understands Cornish fish. And with Newlyn fish market one mile from the front door of his elegant 28-seat restaurant, he's ideally placed to source the best.
"What I call fresh is way fresher than what some other people call fresh." says Rennie, who opened the Shore in July. "I buy large fish that have had a chance to contribute to the life-cycle of the species. I'm ethically driven."
John Dory, chana dal, mango, coriander
Born in Fife, Rennie studied architecture and music technology before deciding on a career in hospitality. A series of jobs in Edinburgh, including Number One at the Balmoral hotel, led to a head chef position at Rhodes and Co in Jenners department store. In 2002, Rennie moved to Northern Ireland to work at Shanks in Bangor with the late Robbie Millar, then returned to Edinburgh to head the kitchen at Martin Wishart's Michelin-starred restaurant and help set up the Wishart Cook School, before relocating to Cornwall in 2009.
Although he's the sole member of the kitchen brigade, Rennie makes everything himself; from the superb sourdough bread to the puff pastry, ice-cream and cheese biscuits.
The Shore offers an individually priced Á la carte dinner menu with dishes such as pollock, white beans, sprouting broccoli and bouillabaisse sauce (£16.50), that rotates depending on availability of produce, and a weekly changing set lunch menu priced at £14.95 for two courses or £19.50 for three.
"The lunch menu is catering towards the local trade at the moment, with safe standards like confit duck. It's something I want to develop in the future," says Rennie.
Carrots, granola, pickled shallot, parsley
The Shore's menus are unashamedly globetrotting, with inspiration for dishes like gurnard with coconut and lemongrass noodles, Indonesian-flavoured arancini and Indonesian curry sauce (£16.50) coming from meeting people such as Rick Stein and Tony Singh, as much as Rennie's own travels.
"I'm trying to do everything as authentically as possible. For the Indonesian curry sauce, I'll look at so many different recipes and at the history, then work out why they do things that way," says Rennie. He fries a paste of toasted and ground Macadamia nuts, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric and ginger in oil, adds fish stock, reduces, then adds coconut milk, kaffir lime, lemongrass and lemon juice to make his version.
One of Rennie's current favourite dishes is the monkfish nitsuke with shimeji mushrooms, kale tops and daikon (£18.50), and it was inspired by cooking for a Japanese friend.
"I make a dashi by soaking kombu in cold water, cutting it up, bringing it to the boil in 10-12 minutes so that it's tender and the maximum amount of flavour has been extracted, then remove it. I add cold water and bonito flakes, simmer for three seconds, remove from the heat and wait till the flakes start to drop, then strain through muslin," he explains.
Rennie than adds sake, mirin and soy to create the nitsuke stock base in which he very gently poaches monkfish wrapped in nori, along with the mushrooms. He serves with ribbons of diakon for crunch and sprout tops sourced from Ross Geach of Padstow Kitchen Garden. "Every so often he brings up some interesting things," says Rennie. "I'm also talking to Bosavern Community Farm in Cornwall about what they'll grow and what I'll take next year."
It's early days at the Shore and Rennie says he's keeping his prices down until he gains the confidence of the locals. He reckons he's achieving an average spend of £35 at dinner and £20 at lunch with about 10 covers at lunch and up to 26 for dinner at weekends.
"I make a loss at times on lunch, but I always stand by the fact that everything has to be fresh. Hopefully I'll gain the reputation that if you want fresh, you go to the Shore."
Line-caught mackerel, Porthilly oyster rissole, cucumber, horseradish, oyster leaf
From the menu
Line-caught mackerel, Porthilly oyster rissole, cucumber, horseradish, oyster leaf £7.95
Newlyn fish stew, cauliflower, aÁ¯oli, croutons £6.50
Hake, roast garlic mashed potatoes, mushrooms, brown butter £16.50
Primrose Herd pork tenderloin, lentils, pumpkin, oyster mushroom, braised cheek £17.50
Blackberry semifreddo, pistachio sponge, apple £6.95
Dark chocolate delice, crystallised peanuts, caramel ice-cream £6.95
Apple tart, streusel, cinnamon and ginger ice-cream £6.95
13-14 Alverton Street, Penzance, Cornwall TR18 2QP