Tabb's in Truro: No better time to eat at Cornwall's hidden gem

Your hosts Nigel and Debbie at Tabb's in Truro
-Credit: (Image: Lee Trewhela)


Those who know, know. Like the couple sat next to us who visit every week, as regular as clockwork, while others have no idea one of the best restaurants in Cornwall is right under their noses. Tabb's in Truro. It looks like a normal residential house and could be overlooked if you miss the sign on a jaunt up to the nearby railway station.

It's been here for 18 years making fans of regulars, but it's amazing how many people still don't know this incredible place exists. In a world of celebrity chefs Instagramming and TikToking themselves into oblivion, all Nigel Tabb relies on is an email list. He'll update you on any special nights or changes of menu when he feels the need. Other than that you won't see him on social media. That's why his restaurant in Kenwyn Street is still a well-kept secret among many food fans.

That's not to say people don't brag about dining at the 16-table laidback haven of gourmet wows. Tabb's has a full five-star rating on TripAdvisor. The most recent review sums it up really: "Nigel Tabb is an amazing chef. He's cooking exactly what we like but always with the element of surprise/excellence. It is a privilege to be able to eat at his restaurant. Service is always the best. The wine list complements the food brilliantly. This is the best all round restaurant in Cornwall."

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You want to book a table now, right? Well, this month is the best possible time to visit if you're a Tabb's newbie. Nigel, and partner Debbie (it's just the two of them running the place, from cooking to serving and pot-washing), are offering a special deal throughout June - two courses for £30 or three for £36. You don't get food this good at that price very often these days.

My starter alone was almost worth the price of the whole meal. Glazed goats cheese on a tower of shredded olives and pickles with a mustard dressing and portion of garlic bread. Bleddy exquisite and as unique a way of serving goats cheese as I've ever known. Strong, bold flavours which don't talk over each other unlike political leaders in televised election debates.

The exquisite bream dish on the June menu at Tabb's
The exquisite bream dish on the June menu at Tabb's -Credit:Lee Trewhela

The Nurse went for the other starter option - grilled fillet of haddock with smoked bacon, cauliflower cheese cream, beetroot stir-fry and duck jus. Fish and pig, shouldn't work, does, beautifully when Nigel's cooking.

While Tabb's errs on the side of fine dining it's not in a pompous way - this is easy dining with lovely hosts, who make you feel more than welcome. In fact, their relatively new Sunday roasts see fans making a whole afternoon of it, crosswords on tables. No one's turned up in a dressing gown yet, but Nigel says the events are so relaxed he wouldn't be surprised if that happens one day.

Grilled fillet of bream served in a pea and ham soup with baby gem and mint dressing for my main; delicate flavours which complement each other perfectly, with sharing portions of paprika poatatoes and deep-fried courgettes. Opposite me, a pot roasted belly of pork got the thumbs up. Served with cabbage, cumin, tomatoes and peppers, like many of Nigel's dishes it's a slightly unusual tweak on the norm.

There's also a vegetarian option on this special June menu - crisp polenta with vegetable fricasse, mustard salsa and balsamic glaze. There are a few choices for dessert too, but the dark chocolate marquise with black treacle ice cream and chocolate sauce begged us to devour and we did, but very slowly as every mouthful is bliss. That black treacle ice cream is so deep it jumped off the plate and dived into the bottom of the Atlantic.

Heaven for chocolate fans at Tabb's
Heaven for chocolate fans at Tabb's -Credit:Lee Trewhela

It doesn't get much better than this in Cornwall. Of course, you don't have to go for this set menu, the a la carte one boasts such delights as deep fried egg with red pepper pilaff and spiced mayo and roasted breast of duck with celeriac hash and hogs pudding. Starters from £11.50 and mains from £20.50.

Put Tabb's on your tabb. You won't regret it, especially with these June prices. For more details about the restaurant see the website.