Lockdown meals for our community

The Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020 has had a devastating impact – claiming lives and livelihoods. The hospitality industry as a whole shut down back in March, and places like Cornwall were particularly badly hit as a result.

We faced some really difficult decisions during that time, but one very easy one. We were asked to help deliver a meal scheme to feed local residents in our community who were finding things particularly hard. We were immediately keen to get on board and so we put it to our team, asking them if they would give their time for free – they answered with a resounding ‘yes, when do we start!’

And so, we got to work. During lockdown we prepared and cooked almost 1,700 delicious and nutritious meals, free of charge, for a wide cross section of local people who have been struggling due to the prevailing conditions. Recipients have been referred by the Fishermen’s Mission, local schools and community groups. The service was organised by the Fishing Animateur team in Newlyn and supported by Seafood Cornwall Training Ltd. The cost of the ingredients was funded by grants from the Fishmongers’ Company and Seafarers UK.

Ben says: “I am very proud to have been able to offer the facilities at the Tolcarne to produce the meals for the vulnerable amongst the community, and even more proud of my staff who have voluntarily given their time to help those less fortunate than ourselves during these challenging times.”

Liz Wilkin from the Fishing Animateur team had these kind words for us: “The staff at the Tolcarne have spent the last three months providing delicious and healthy food for free, for up to 40 people four nights a week. They have done this simply to help the community through a difficult time and without regard to the extra work that this has generated for themselves. All of the staff have been magnificent and I, together with the recipients, would like to express our enormous thanks for their selfless service and hard work”.

The meals scheme has given us a positive focus, bought the team closer together, and helped us keep perspective during tough times – it’s an experience which will stay with us. And now, on to the next challenge (but more on that soon!)

We’re Back!

We are very pleased to announce we will be reopening on Saturday 4th July.

During lockdown we have taken the opportunity to refresh our little Inn by the sea, as well as providing meals for some of the vulnerable people in our local community as a way of keeping our hand in and doing something meaningful during the crisis. It has been humbling to see the community come together to support each other, and we were happy to play a small part in that.

We’ve also been planning summer menus, so expect a feast when you return! We can’t wait to bring you the best seasonal delicacies from our local growers and fishermen – and to put much-needed orders their way after such a challenging period.

We would like to assure all our guests that we will be following government guidelines regarding social distancing, health and hygiene. We will be cleaning and sanitising regularly and hand sanitiser will be available to our guests. You can find more info on our opening plans below, but if you have any questions or concerns please get in touch.

We very much look forward to welcoming you back to the Tolcarne Inn as we embark on the new normal together.

  • We will be open Tuesday – Sunday, closed Mondays to begin with.
  • Tuesday – Saturday we will be serving lunch from 12.00-2.15 and dinner from 6.30-9.00.
  • On Sundays we will be running an extended lunch service 12-4 and closing in the evenings. There will be no Sunday Live Jazz Sessions for a while unfortunately.
  • Our terrace has had a refresh and will be open for alfresco dining. We’ll also be serving with a smaller capacity inside. In all areas social distancing will meet government guidelines in order to keep staff and guests safe.
  • We recommend that you book ahead, although we may be able to cater for walk-ins as long as we take contact details. We’ll confirm this shortly. Our online booking system will soon be up and running, but in the meantime please email enquiries@tolcarneinn.co.uk
  • We hope to be running a modest takeaway service too – more details on this soon.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Christmas Carol Workshops

We are thrilled to announce a series of Christmas Carol Workshops here at The Tolcarne, with popular six-piece male group, Boilerhouse.

This is a great opportunity to do something fun, sociable and healthy (singing is very good for you!) in the run-up to Christmas – and get to know Cornwall’s heritage a little better too.

The informal workshops will run throughout November and December, building up to a concert here at the pub on the 19th December. There is no charge and no booking required, you are simply invited to come along, have fun and learn some little-known Cornish carols as well as some classics.

Song-sheets will be provided, and no previous experience is required!

You may like to come and eat with us beforehand, but you are equally welcome to just come along for a few drinks. The fires will be lit, so expect cosy evenings in good company.

Workshops dates are as follows (all 8-9.30pm):

12th November

19th November

26th November

10th December

17th December

19th December – Concert

Wine Supper Menu Released

Our Winter Wine Suppers return next month – and the menu has just landed. Co-created by Ben & Matt, this has us very excited indeed…

Starting from the 4th, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night throughout November, guests here at the Tolcarne can enjoy a great-value 3-course meal, with each course expertly matched with an accompanying wine. Thank you to Charles of Ellis Wharton Wines for doing such a great job once again this year.

To book give us a call as usual, but be quick – these nights are great value and tables fill up quickly!

Take a look at the menu here.



Meet Our New Head Chef

We are thrilled to introduce our new Head Chef, Matt Smith.

Matt was recruited by Ben to work alongside him here at The Tolcarne Inn. Matt joined the team at the start of the summer and has now taken day-to-day operational charge, working with Ben to develop menus and take our food offering to the next level.

Ben said: “I was really pleased to be able to bring Matt on board, having worked with him in the past. Not only is he a reliable pair of hands to help us maintain the highest levels of quality and consistency, he is also extremely creative and forward-thinking, and we’ve already implemented some of his development ideas.”

Ben and Matt worked together during the launch of The Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth in 2009; they found they had very similar approaches to food and have kept in touch ever since.

In the interim Matt was Head Chef at both The Gurnard’s Head in Zennor and The Old Coastguard in Mousehole – both award-winning dining establishments with national reputations.

Matt explained why The Tolcarne Inn is such a natural fit for him: “Ben and I think in the same way about food, especially how to construct dishes. Simple dishes, which highlight excellent ingredients – this is the best description of how we both like to cook.”

Matt and Ben also agree that the casual pub setting is the perfect vehicle for their food, as Ben explains: “Good food in relaxed surroundings is always enjoyable. Fine-dining has its place, but the humble pub is where myself and my food are most at home!”

At Matt’s instigation we trialled a ‘small plates’ menu this summer, with great success. The menu, which is now a permanent fixture, encourages diners to try a selection of smaller dishes starting at around £5, and to build their own seafood feast.

Next on the horizon is the return of our popular Winter Warmer Wine Suppers, which run throughout November, and a turkey-free Christmas Menu for groups of six or more which will be available during December.

Summer At The Tolcarne: Your Ultimate Seafood Lunch Awaits!

This summer we’ve decided to mix things up a little here at The Tolcarne, changing our lunch menu to a ‘small plates’ format to help you really embrace the joy of dining on Cornish seafood in the sunshine.

We’ve done this for two reasons. The first is that, like you, when we see a good menu we want to try everything. Choosing at the most one starter, one main, and one dessert (if you can manage that at lunchtime) just doesn’t quite cut it when there is an array of delicious options on offer…

The second is that, with our new day boat license, we now have scope to serve a greater variety of fresh seafood than ever before. While we’re still working with our fab fish supplier Stevensons, we will increasingly be sourcing small catches direct from day boat fishermen as they return from their short trips along the coast. At the moment we’re working closely with a fisherman whose main haul is lobster – as you can imagine our kitchen team have been enjoying creating dishes with this bounty!

With the most diverse fish market in the UK on our doorstep, and scope to buy from day boats, our blackboard menu is always evolving according to market availability and landings, so we can truly showcase the catch of the day.

We hope that by offering small plates it will encourage you to order a selection, try something new, and visit us time and again during what we hope will be a beautiful summer for dining alfresco.

The Tolcarne Inn becomes direct buyer of fish

We have been granted a license to buy the daily catch direct from fishing vessels, making The Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn one of a handful of restaurants in Cornwall with this license.

The ‘Certificate of Designation as a Buyer of First Sale Fish’, issued by the Marine Management Organisation, allows Ben and the team to source seafood straight from day boat fishermen; these small vessels go in and out with the tides, fish immediately offshore, and use traditional and sustainable fishing techniques to catch their low-impact quotas.

Ben explained: “We work with a fantastic fish merchant in Stevenson Newlyn and that’s not going to change, but because we operate a daily-changing menu we have the opportunity to be more responsive and take small amounts straight off the boat – just hours after it has been caught.”

The day boats are a great source of sustainably-caught fish, and the fishermen we work with know that we’re happy to cook a wide variety of species. It means a lot more cleaning and filleting in-house, which is really positive as it means young chefs are perfecting those important skills.

Sheltering behind the sea wall in Newlyn, The Tolcarne Inn is just a few hundred metres from one of the busiest and most diverse fish markets in the UK; up to 53 different species can be landed in any one day.

Now Ben is taking his sourcing policy a step further and going straight to source, working directly with day boat fishermen to bring their catch to table.

Introducing Our Winter Warmer Wine Suppers

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Winter Warmer Wine Suppers – a special incentive to join us for your creature comforts this season.

Ben has created a menu featuring some of his favourite winter dishes, using the best of the catch from Newlyn Fish Market combined with seasonal produce from his trusty sources – local market gardeners and community farms.

You will find the menu below, please note that there may be some substitution of fish species depending on availability.

Current dates available to book are as follows (normal booking arrangements apply, with tables available to book from 6.30 to 8.30 each night):

January Dates:

8th, 9th & 10th

15th, 16th & 17th

22nd, 23rd & 24th

29th, 30th & 31st

Please call our team on 01736 363074 to make your reservation.


Winter Warmer Wine Suppers


Seared scallops, black pudding, cauliflower, caper & raisins

Grillo, Il Folle (Sicily, Italy)

Slow braised squid with chorizo, red wine & aioli

Carignan vieilles vignes, Grange du Midi (South of France) 

Fillet of mackerel, celeriac, chicory, smoked shrimp & preserved lemon dressing

Picpoul, Chateau de la Mirande (South of France)

Roast cod, choucroute, beetroot relish, roasted Jerusalem artichokes, cider apples & vanilla

Domaine Astruc, d’A Chardonnay (Languedoc)

 Fillet of hake, raisin & thyme onions, piccolo parsnips, kale, red wine

Chateau Gaillard, Fleurie (Cru Beaujolais, Burgundy, France)

Jumbo plaice fillets, mussels, leeks, mushrooms, roasted garlic mash

Tremendus ‘Viura’ Rioja Blanco (Rioja, Spain)


Mango & Malibu mousse, compressed watermelon, coconut sorbet, candied lime

Chocolate & Cardamom tart, mulled pear, orange, rosemary & mascarpone ice cream

Mas Amiel, Vintage 2014

Steamed hazelnut & poppy seed cake, poached quince, vanilla ice cream

Monbazillac, Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure

Three Courses £28

Wines Flight £15


Celebrating the first year of the Newlyn Lobster Hatchery

We were honoured to be the venue for a very special Patrons’ Lunch this week, to celebrate a successful first operational year of the National Lobster Hatchery’s (NLH) satellite in Newlyn – an outpost of the Padstow-based marine conservation charity.

Ben, who has recently become a Patron of the charity himself, welcomed key supporters of the project from all over the country as they came for an in-depth insight into the facility at Newlyn Harbour, which has been operational since August 2017.

The Newlyn hatchery helps to enhance natural stocks and stabilise the lobster population, whilst contributing to the NLH’s extensive research and education programme; it is part of the organisation’s long-term strategy for supporting the fishery for generations to come.

Housed in two shipping containers, the Newlyn facility has already nurtured and released tens of thousands of juvenile lobsters into coastal waters, and it is proving to be an operational success.

Edwin Derriman MBE, Founding Chairman of NLH, said: “The Newlyn satellite Lobster Hatchery is a concept that the NLH has wanted to try for several years. With two excellent technicians running the facility – Chris Weston and Ruth Cacharron – the production of larvae and juveniles has been better than hoped for, and the Board of NLH may consider other satellite facilities as a result.”

NLH Chairman Elect, Rob Wing, added: “We are hugely grateful to Ben for his invaluable patronage. He is not only the worthy recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand for his culinary skill, but is also a passionate advocate of Cornish seafood. We thank him very much for his generosity in hosting this special event for our growing band of Patrons who make an enormous difference to the scope of what the NLH can achieve.”

The tour was followed by lunch here at the pub, where Ben prepared a celebratory lunch featuring mackerel, hake and – of course – lobster.

Ben commented: “I’m very honoured to be involved with the charity as a whole, and the Newlyn hatchery specifically. The work of the NLH is vital to ensure future sustainability of lobster stocks, which are an important part of the marine ecosystem.”

He continued: “So much of our economy in Cornwall is based around our enviable reputation for outstanding food and drink – particularly seafood. Lobster is one of the most luxurious and enjoyable local ingredients and deserves to be cherished.”

Ben is hoping to feature lobster on the menu more in the future as stocks increase, and will be taking part in the NLH’s ‘Buy one, set one free’ initiative.


We have retained our Michelin Bib Gourmand!

We are thrilled to have retained our Michelin Bib Gourmand for yet another year.

The Bib Gourmand’s are awarded to places which serve good food at affordable prices. We were first awarded a Bib in 2013, a year after opening, and have retained the accolade ever since.

Ben said: “Fantastic news this week – the Bib is here for another year! I’m so proud of the whole team who work really hard to make sure that our food is of a consistently high standard. In the restaurant industry consistency is everything, so to maintain this accolade for a sixth year is a brilliant endorsement.”

We will be celebrating with a special opportunity to enjoy some of Ben’s favourite winter fish dishes matched with wine. Watch this space for more info, as we will be taking bookings (limited availability) soon.