When travelling with kids a great tip is to find out where local families go for food, entertainment and so on. Going to fancy restaurants is great on holiday and for special occasions and I’m all for kids experiencing and learning to behave in such places. But the reality is you want to enjoy your meal too and not feel stressed out about the kids making noise, dropping food or loudly announcing they need a wee (or worse).
As we haven’t actually departed yet I thought over the next couple of months I would tell readers about a few of our favourite family restaurants and activities here in beautiful Cornwall as it is a holiday destination for so many families and well worth a visit.
Yesterday I asked Rob if he would sort dinner out for me to have a night off from cooking – “Yeah sure” he said. Come 4.30pm I asked what he’d got for dinner…. “ummmm…. Shall we go out?” Ergh, ok, but Orla is majorly tired and grumpy, very few places are open before 6pm and we’re all starving (We eat around 5pm in this household). “I know” he announced excitedly… “Sam’s”… GREAT! Shoes on, lets go…
Sam’s is a seafood restaurant in Fowey, a beautiful seaside town on the south coast. In the hight of summer it is heaving but just out of season it’s delightful, alive but mellow, sort of like a town relaxing on the sofa after a big Sunday dinner; enjoying the conversation and playing some games.
You can’t book at Sam’s and if you are coming in the evening, particularly in the summer, you may need to wait for a table in their funky bar upstairs. Definitely not a hardship if you indulge in one of their “like you’re in London” cocktails. But lets get real, not many other people go out for dinner at 5pm so you’re straight in with attentive service.
Established in 1988 and originally a burger bar, Sam’s has a reputation for great food and a lively atmosphere. It is also an ideal place for taking the family. The staff are welcoming, they have high chairs and nappy changing facilities and an extensive children’s menu. No processed sausage and chips nonsense, there’s Moules Frite (my kids favourite!), calamari, fresh locally caught fish, battered and served with mushy peas and there’s a variety of Sam’s famous home-made burgers with salad and fries, to name but a few.
The venue is ideal for entertaining children and a family game of I Spy is a must with so many things to see and spot, electric guitars and retro posters on the walls, chefs in Bermuda shorts and various rock and roll memorabilia. It’s colourful enough for the youngest kids to play, we do “something that is red/green/purple” for the non-spellers of the family. The other great thing is the music volume for families, not too loud you can’t chat and play games but loud enough that you’re not worried about disturbing other diners with random infant shrieks.
The food is simply spectacular and it’s a great place to get kids into more unusual foods. We shared a portion of shell on prawns and a portion of calamari to start. Despite prawns being a firm family favourite the kids had never pealed their own so teaching them how to was great – everyone loves messy food! The boys had mussels for their main which they adore and are very competent at extracting from their shells with another shell. I had a trio of fish and rob had a burger – both of which were cooked to perfection and demolition in the blink of an eye.
The staff made it clear on arrival that we were welcome to bring our own baby food or give her bits of ours on a plate they would happily provide, but Orla had the fish and chips; you wouldn’t believe how much that girl can put away! These little touches can make such a difference to your enjoyment – It’s miserable to be made to feel unwelcome because you’ve brought baby food to avoid allergy issues or you don’t want to have a full child’s meal for a one year old.
You really can’t go wrong with the menu at Sam’s and there is something for everyone. Personally I would steer clear of their salads though. It’s like they try too hard with all sorts of sprouts and veg in there – give me a simple leaf salad with a delicate dressing any day but I’m not that into “just lots of raw stuff”. It’s hardly a criticism though, they’re just not my thing.
After dinner the kids love a stroll onto the jetty by the harbour masters, (a great spot for crabbing too if you happen to have the kit in the car) and it’s a nice opportunity for you to enjoy the view across to Polruan in the evening light. Man I love living in Cornwall… Um, why are we going? Oh yeah, I remember, but we’ll be back here.
So what’s the cost of this great family dining experience? Well, It’s not the cheapest place in South Cornwall – there are table table pubs in the bigger towns with deals that are phenomenally cheap if that’s what you’re after. It really isn’t costly though. For the five of us, two starters, two adult mains, three kids meals, 4 soft drinks and a glass of house wine (I know – I’m a lush!) we paid just over £50. The mains are massive, even the kids ones, and to be honest we could have easily done without the starters as the boys didn’t manage all of their mussels. For the quality of the food and the overall experience it is great value for money. It’s also consistence – you can’t fail to enjoy yourself and the food, which in itself adds value.
Sam’s of Fowey has got to be one of my favourite restaurants for early evening family dinning, welcoming, fun and serving great food. The kids love it too. So if you’re coming to Cornwall with the kids give it a go and let me know what you thought.
Sam’s Fowey is on Fore Street and is open 12-9pm every day.
Tel: 01726 832273
Parking: Early evening and out of season parking is easy in the small car park in the middle of town but out of season you’ll need to park in one of the towns other car parks and walk in. You need pay and display before 6pm.
NB. All opinions are my own. I did not receive any discount or payment for this review. Also, apologies for the terrible photos… I forgot to grab the camera!