RASTELLA has recently won a Three AA Rosette, making it the most awarded restaurant in Falmouth. You may not have seen it because this little gem is hidden in the Merchants Manor Hotel.

Before we talk about the food we must talk about this beautiful house. Entering it feels like a privilege thanks to its elegance. The chandeliers, mirrors and pale décor speak of decadence and the panelled dining room gives warm, cosy corners.

Local Merchant George Newby Carne built the Queen Anne style manor house and Nick and Sioned Rudlin opened it as a hotel in 2013. It’s an inspired repurposing and they have created the most hospitable of party places. To have the run of the hotel with friends and family would make for the best of times. Prepare for fighting over the pair of luxury eco-apartments inspired by the exotic journeys of Edwardian plant hunters.

The jewel in the crown is Rastella, the craftsman Head Chef Hylton Espey. Like the Edwardian plant hunters referenced in the décor, this young South African forages many of the ingredients he uses. The seaweed is fresh from the shore and the brambles are picked from coastal hedges the same day.

He has also hunted down the very best of Cornwall’s food producers. There are too many to name here, but what is brilliant is that each is named on a map of the county on the menu with a description of the particular merits of each.

This pride and authenticity is vital to the producers who are creating the most stunning quality of ingredients. Hylton skilfully combines them to make unique, regionally named dishes that are half familiar, half discovery. Trewithick Pastures stars lamb which is unsurprising, but it is teamed with crab and sea vegetables. This delicious combination was inspired by Hylton’s walks from clifftop to shoreline.

Meanwhile Falmouth Bay features scallops and pancetta, a common combination. Hylton, however, adds a yolk, pumpernickel and radish.

The result of his inspired pairings is a burst of flavour and a wonderful, surprising journey of taste. All this in a warm, lazy-kind-of-luxurious home.

I exhort you to discover this treasure of a restaurant for yourself.