I've lived in Falmouth for about three years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to nearby Truro for a reason other than hopping on a train. Two of those trips involved going to see a movie; one involved going shopping; one was to attend a party; and the final one was kind of an accident, since Truro happened to be the final destination on the "Round Robin" trip that I took with my parents up the River Fal. When you can remember every single time you've gone somewhere, you either have a terrific memory or haven't visited nearly enough.
It's actually pretty ridiculous that we don't go to Truro more often, considering that it is an official city (thanks to the presence of Truro Cathedral) and has all the associated commercial and cultural opportunities that you would expect of such a place. When I first had the bright idea to eat my way around Cornwall, I discovered that Truro has a highly recommended gourmet restaurant called the Driftwood Hotel. So, when Sasha's aunt and uncle recently called out of the blue to say they'd be visiting Cornwall, I thought it would be nice if we could all rendezvous at the Driftwood. That seemed like a great plan until we realized that the hotel is only nominally in Truro; in reality, it's at least 20 minutes away down winding, narrow country roads. Since we were planning to meet up at the end of a long day of driving down to Cornwall from Oxford, Sasha and I thought it would be prudent to find somewhere a bit easier to locate.
That is how we found ourselves eating at Gravy Boesti, conveniently located right off the main drag at 8 Edward Street. Serendipitously, we had driven past the restaurant on our way up to Oxford earlier in the week, so we knew exactly where we were heading on Friday night--plus we were aware that there was a public parking lot right at the end of the road. Perfect.
What was not perfect is the fact that we were nearly 30 minutes late for our date thanks to two patches of road construction between Oxford and Truro. This meant that we didn't order until after 9 PM, and, consequently, were the last customers to leave the restaurant. However, everyone was incredibly patient and friendly; if they were irritated at having to stay late on our account, they sure didn't let on.
I'm actually the person responsible for our choice of restaurants, which I will acknowledge since it turned out so well. When I had gotten online to peruse reviews of various Truro establishments, I noticed that Gravy Boesti was consistently referred to as "the best place to eat in Truro," as well as a great place to go for a special occasion. I actually think it's pretty amazing that we got reservations for such a popular establishment at such short notice (only 2-3 days, if I recall correctly). This is especially true given the restaurant's tiny size; most of the space is taken up by the open-air kitchen--a very neat* feature allowing you to see all stages of the food preparation process--leaving room for somewhere between only 6-10 tables max.
Although there were four of us at the table, I only have photos of Sasha's and my dishes, since I didn't want to subject in my poor in-laws to my food-photographing fetish (though, to be honest, they are both so nice I think they probably wouldn't have minded a bit).
For starters, Sasha's aunt Elaine ordered the last remaining portion of the sardines, which she de-boned in an incredibly delicate and efficient manner; she pronounced them very tasty. His uncle Tup and I ordered the pumpkin soup, which was topped by honey-roasted pumpkin seeds and came with a side of homemade bread studded with what appeared to be chunks of olive. I needed to add a bit of salt (I actually found all the courses a bit under-salted, which is incredibly unusual given my tastes), but once I did, it was delicious; unlike my husband, I enjoy a bit of sweet-salty contrast, wish is something that squashes are particularly good for.
For the main course, Sasha decided to be adventurous: He ordered the last portion of the evening's cuttlefish special. I have seen people eating octopus and squid, but I did not realize that cuttlefish was also a cephalopod dinner option. These were prepared in an Asian style, with pak choi and soy sauce and various other Asian flavors; Sasha enjoyed them quite a bit (as did Tup, who had a quick taste).
I also opted for seafood, but my variety was a bit more "tame": I ordered halibut on a potato cake with sweet potato and fennel sauces on the side. According to the menu, the "potato cake" was a "rosti," but I didn't notice any non-potato veggies involved, so really it was a potato cake--which is fine with me, because I happen to love potato cakes. Altogether, the dish had just the right amount of food.
Tup and Elaine ordered more terrestrial meals--Tup had a steak (which came with a side of some of the biggest hand-cut fries I've ever seen), while Elaine had the duck. I don't remember hearing any comments about the quality of the food, but I can guess what their opinions were given that they cleaned their plates.
I don't ordinarily order dessert--since I generally don't have any room left for it--but Sasha's uncle helped me out by giving me a bit of his so that I could get a taste of the lemon Cornish cream ice cream. Fantastic.
Sasha ordered an unusual dish that I've never seen anywhere else: a shortbread strawberry cheesecake. The shortbreads are obvious in the picture below; the cheesecake portion was light and whipped and had been piped in between and on top of the shortbread layers. Overall, the entire thing was quite a bit less dense than your typical cheesecake, and, much to Sasha's pleasure, it had never seen the inside of an oven.
Elaine was struck by a sudden craving for crackers and cheese, but wasn't a fan of the cheeses on the cheese board listed on the menu. However, our waitress managed to rustle up a small portion of acceptable cheese--Stilton--some oat crackers, and a bit of fruit. I should re-emphasize the fact that it was, by this time, fast approaching 11 PM, and we were the last customers in the restaurant; despite this, everybody was happy to not only serve us, but to serve us things that weren't even officially on offer!
All in all, it was a delicious evening, made all the better by the fact that we had the opportunity to catch up with family that we almost never get the chance to see (also made better by the fact that they paid for dinner--thanks again, guys!). I can certainly recommend Gravy to anyone who happens to find themselves in Truro. While it did appear to be a bit on the "special occasion" end of the spectrum, none of us was particularly dressy and we didn't feel awkward or out of place. So, if you are looking to have a top-class meal without having to put on your fanciest duds--or break the bank--Gravy Boesti is definitely a good place to go.
*I was recently told (in a friendly way) that "neat" is a ridiculous Americanism and that I should say "fabulous" instead.