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Cornwall's best kept secret

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Since leaving Fifteen Cornwall, Andy Appleton has been quietly crafting seriously creative Italian dishes at a Cornish vineyard. The secret’s out, so consider this your nudge to get Appleton’s at the Vineyard in your little black book, says Kathryn Lewis

Appleton's at the Vineyard

After a successful career at one of the region’s gastronomic crown jewels, it was a ballsy move for former Fifteen Cornwall head chef Andy Appleton to plump for an out-of-the-way spot for his first solo venture.

Since taking on the 25 cover dining space at Trevibban Mill in 2016, Andy – who runs the restaurant with partner Lyndsey – has been discreetly plating up his passion for Italian gastronomy at the north Cornwall vineyard, much to the delight of greedy locals and lucky day trippers dropping in to sample the wine.

Going under the radar was all part of the plan for the duo who, until recently, covered their roles as kitchen and front of house single-handedly.

‘When I left Fifteen, we wanted to take a big step back and do things slowly,’ explains Andy. ‘We needed to take the time to get the food, service, wine and location just right before shouting about what we were doing.’

Blending his obsession for Italian food with ethical, local and sustainable ingredients, Andy sources seafood fresh from St Mawes, vibrant Cornwallgrown veggies and bread baked by the boys at Coombeshead Farm for his daily-changing menus.

Don’t expect to sit down to the usual (beautifully presented) piece of fresh Cornish fish with seasonal vegetables, though.

The guy’s crafting seriously unusual and creative dishes such as lobster tortellini folded with plankton infused pasta dough, fish stew with rose harissa and fregola, and anchovies sandwiched between sage leaves and deep-fried for crispy bites of salty bliss.

Free of boundaries, the innovative chef has embraced his freedom to refashion classic combinations and also explore a plethora of European suppliers.

‘At Fifteen, the focus was on local suppliers which was great, but now I’m also able to import lip-smacking ingredients you just can’t find here,’ explains Andy. ‘I’m continuously tweaking and adapting my menu depending on what I can get my hands on.’

Appleton’s location on an organic vineyard (if you can, grab a table on the terrace overlooking the vines) means there’s a stellar wine list to complement the food. Trevibban Mill’s own bottles feature alongside a list of Andy and Lyndsey’s favourite Italian wines, with a number of Cornish and Italian gins expanding the bar’s cross-continent love affair.

After our recent visit – to a packed out winter lunch service – we thought it was only right to share north Cornwall’s foodie secret a little wider.

Timely, really, as the restaurant has just relocated to a roomier 50 cover spot upstairs and brought in some much-needed manpower. Book a table ASAP because, by the time the summer season is in full swing, this beauty will no longer be buried treasure.

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