If you don’t know what a Cornish pie is, it’s a pastry made from shortcrust pastry and traditionally filled with meat and vegetables. Today, you can find Cornish pastries filled with all sorts of ingredients, including curried and vegan pastries. The first documented mention of Cornish pasty dates back to the 13e century, but they’ve probably been around longer than that. They were originally made by Cornish housewives for their husbands to eat for lunch in the tin mines and while fishing.
The sturdy shortcrust pastry made this a sturdy lunch to take along while working. The edges are a thick rolled baked dough that you can grab with one hand and eat on the go. The thick pastry rim was designed to be held by men’s dirty fingers and then thrown away, although today we wouldn’t dream of throwing away a piece of this delicious pasta.
Although you can now eat a Cornish pie anywhere in the UK, there’s nothing quite like eating one in Cornwall, where they were first invented. In no particular order, here are my 9 favorite places for a Cornish pie in Cornwall.
Lavenders is a family run bakery and grocery store in Penzance that bakes and sells traditional Cornish pastries as well as many modern versions of the original. Here, everything is done by hand, which can be seen when tasting the pastries. The pastry menu includes steak and stilton, cheese and mushroom pies, as well as a whole vegan pie.
There’s also a cafe on site, so you can grab a pâté for lunch at the cafe, buy some from the deli counter, or take your pâté and eat it wherever you like. They even deliver their pastries all over the UK, so you don’t have to go to Cornwall to eat one, although you should. The Lavenders have been making and selling their pastries in Penzance since 1978, and the deli and bakery are still run by the same Lavender family today.
2. Malcolm Barnecutt
Freshly baked on site daily, Malcolm Barnecutt’s pastries are so good they now have 12 patisseries across Cornwall – and even one across the border in Devon. Barnecutts is now run by James Barnecutt, the fourth generation of the Barnecutt family to take over the reins. I can only speak about the Newquay branch as that is the one I visited, but I’m sure all the other branches of this bakery are equally good. They also sell sandwiches and cakes, but those are the pastries that most people prefer. The steak and the stilton pasty are particularly good.
3. The Count’s House Cafe
Geevor Tin Mine Museum, Pendeen
There are many reasons to visit the Geevor Tin Mine Museum. This is a great opportunity to explore and learn about the history of tin mining in Cornwall, the industry that once made this area rich. The mine was closed in 1990 and some areas of the site have remained exactly as they were that day.
But once you’ve toured the mine and learned about tin mining, you’re in for a treat at the Count House Café. Although the cafe menu has a great vegan section, they are still traditional here when it comes to pastries. The pastries are freshly baked daily, and if you buy nine to take away, you get one free!
Pro Tip: Traditional Cornish steak and vegetable pastries are very popular at this cafe, and as the museum gets a lot of visitors, they sell out quickly. If you want to buy some to take with you, you must order them at least 24 hours in advance, otherwise the cafe cannot guarantee that you will get one.
4. Sainte-Agnes Bakery
First opened in 1905, St Agnes Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in the UK still operating from its original site. A family business passed down from generation to generation, St Agnes Bakery still makes its traditional Cornish pastries to the same recipe as its great-grandparents. They also offer a range of other toppings in their pastries, including vegetarian and vegan options, as well as scones and other cakes and pastries. There’s a huge selection at this bakery, but the traditional Cornish pastries are so good here; you shouldn’t miss trying one during your visit.
Philps is a bit of an institution in Hayle. The bakery has a beautiful family history behind it, which everyone in the region really responds to. The bakery’s founder, Sammy Philp, started his own fruit and vegetable handcart when he was just 15 years old. He was a smart businessman – even at such a young age – and along with his cousin, Everett, the baker, the Philps family quickly branched out into baked goods.
Everett started making Cornish pastries in the 1950s, and Sammy took them to local pubs, who loved them and started selling them to their visitors. The Cornish Arms was the first pub to sell Cornish pastries, and they were Philps pastries. Today the bakery is run by Sammy’s grandchildren, and they still make their Cornish pastries using the same Philps family recipe. The chicken pot pie is particularly good here. Philps is dedicated to sourcing the highest quality ingredients, and it really shows in their baked goods.
6. Etherington Farm Shop
When you first enter the Etherington Farm shop, you will notice the emphasis on the meat counter. The butcher’s counter at Etherington is certainly predominant; they have such an impressive supply of meat that it’s hard not to be drawn to it. It’s a great butcher’s counter, but on top of that and shelves full of preserves, spices, teas and a mini bottle shop, they also sell the most amazing Cornish pastries.
A good Cornish pie relies on a mix of things. The filling, of course, but also the dough. The shortcrust pastry should be crumbly, but some Cornish pastries don’t quite have that crumble that a good pastry needs. At Etherington, baking is what really sets their pastries apart. The crumble on the dough is perfect! Their pâtés are made with a century-old recipe that they keep secret to this day.
7. The Little Bay Cafe
When you first enter Little Bay Café, your eyes will most likely be drawn to the array of amazing cakes. The cakes are prominent and displayed so you can’t help but linger over them. And the cakes are what this cute little cafe is known for, you could even say they are famous for their cakes, at least in Cornwall. The cakes are amazing, and you should definitely try some while you’re there, but don’t overlook the Cornish pastries at this seaside cafe.
Everything here is handmade by the owner, who is very friendly and will go out of her way to keep her visitors happy. The pastries, sandwiches and cakes vary depending on what was freshly baked that day, but I would recommend a pastry of your choice and a slice of cheesecake.
Pro Tip: The cafe accepts dogs. Visitors can bring their dogs anytime and the staff will take care of them – they clearly love dogs. But if you have a dog with you, be aware that from March, for the summer season, dogs are not allowed on Pentewan beach.
8. Morris Pastries
Morris Pasties started life as a butcher in the 1970s. Love the story of how the business changed when they started selling handmade pastries from an old lady near St Columb . I couldn’t find this old lady’s name – it may have been lost over time – but she is definitely remembered through these nipple pasties. She prepared them according to a secret recipe, which was fortunately passed on to the family.
The original owner, Peter Morris, died in the 2000s and his son, David, took over. David’s wife, Emma, is making the pastries today. The newest addition to the Morris Pasties range of pastries is the Breakfast Pastry. This unusual version of the traditional pâté contains sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and baked beans. Definitely worth a try!
9. St Buryan’s Farm Shop
If you love produce fresh straight from the soil in which it was grown, you’ll love St Buryan Farm Shop. They have an impressive display of fruits and vegetables that are grown on site or sourced locally. The butcher’s counter is also full of fresh meats either from the farm or from local suppliers. I love a good farm shop, but a farm shop with a cafe is even better.
In St Buryan you can buy local produce and then have lunch at the cafe. So you can buy your pastries to go or relax and eat them while you rest at the cafe. The pastries are all freshly made on site by hand. The menu is short, but what they lack in choice they make up for in taste. I would recommend the minced dough. Simple, traditional and really good!
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