The team behind acclaimed seafood pub The Tolcarne Inn, in Newlyn, launch their second Cornish pub today, refusing to let the best-laid plans be scuppered by covid-19.

Ben Tunnicliffe Matt Smith
Ben Tunnicliffe (right) and Matt Smith

Chef and restauranteur Ben Tunnicliffe, alongside his head chef Matt Smith, have taken over The Packet Inn, an old coaching inn near Prussia Cove. The new opening has created jobs and provided a much-needed boost for local suppliers as the autumn approaches.

Promising a “Cornish pub for all seasons” and “a microcosm of Cornwall’s famously good food and drink”, Ben and Matt have been looking for a second site for some time and, despite difficult trading conditions, refused to be thwarted in acquiring The Packet — even by a global pandemic.

Ben took over the Tolcarne in 2012; it rapidly became known as one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood in the whole of the UK. Matt joined as head chef in 2019, helping cultivate a team bursting at the seams with talent and allowing the dream of a second site to become a reality. 

Whereas the location of The Tolcarne — on the harbourside of one of the UK’s major fishing ports — naturally dictates a focus on seafood, The Packet sits between coast and countryside and so here Ben and Matt will look to both for inspiration.

‘I have so much faith in the quality and reputation of the Cornish food and hospitality scene’

Ben said: “As ever, we’ll be guided by seasonal cycles and our love for the finest local produce, but we’ll be working with local butchers and smallholders, as well as growers and fishermen. So, as well as superb seafood, guests can expect grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and outdoor-reared pork, as well as colourful and creative vegetarian and vegan food.”

The menu will be in a ‘small plates’ format, encouraging diners to order and share a wide variety of dishes rather than the traditional three courses; the drinks offering will also be hard to resist dipping into, with a carefully chosen selection of local ales, ciders, and spirits, plus a larger-than-usual list of wines by the glass.

Referring to their decision to launch a pub during one of the most uncertain periods in living memory, Ben said: “I will always be an optimist; I just can’t help myself! I have so much faith in the quality and reputation of the Cornish food and hospitality scene, in the talented people who deliver and supply it, and in the level of support and appreciation from the public, that I can’t help but feel we’ll come out of this stronger eventually.”

Matt added: “The timing is challenging and there’s not many people launching new enterprises right now, but The Packet will be very accessible — both in terms of location and price — and the site lends itself well to adaptation and social distancing. It’s really great to be doing something positive — our staff and suppliers have received a much-needed boost as a result of this launch.”

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