Just a few years ago, legendary Launceston butcher Philip Warren was on his own flying the foodie flag for the town. While places like Padstow and St Ives had already cultivated excellent reputations among holidaymakers, Launceston was somewhere those looking for quality Cornish food tended to bypass. Those in the know are no longer flying past on the A30 as they head west, stopping instead to sample the exciting range of foodie delights which are opening at an increasingly regular pace in Launceston town centre.
As well as smoking our own pork from the Penpont Brewery pigs, here at Firebrand Bar & Restaurant we serve a variety of meat from Warren’s – a Launceston institution run by a family which has been farming and butchering since 1880. As well as opening a successful butcher’s on Pennygillam Industrial Estate they’ve stayed loyal to Launceston town centre, knowing what a huge draw their flagship town square shop is and recognising the enormous impact it has on the local economy. Its not surprising that Launceston people, top London restaurants and Michelin starred chefs alike recognise the outstanding quality they’re getting from this absolute gem. The meat is still dry aged and matured traditionally on the bone and comes from the family farm, as well as farms on Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley.
The focus is on suckled native breeds, including Red Devons, South Devons, Galloways, Welsh Blacks, Aberdeen Angus, Red Herefords and Dexters. Rare breed pigs range from Saddlebacks to Tamworths to Berkshires. Walking into Warren’s is a chef’s dream. Cut after cut is lined up before your eyes and anything not on show is available by request.
We serve good quality coffee from Voyager Coffee Roasters at Firebrand, but we’re very happy to point those looking for speciality roasts from across the world towards Liberty Coffee. Nestled at the bottom of the old Liberal Club with the castle looming overhead sits one of the best speciality coffee shops in Britain. Local Launceston man Ben Statton opened up in September 2012 as the scene was beginning to make its way outside London. His meticulous attention to detail, varying brew methods and ever-changing selection of coffees has rightly earned him a place in the South West Independent Coffee Guide.
An excellent selection of homemade cakes, loose leaf teas from Brew Tea Co and real hot chocolate provided by Kokoa Collection make Liberty Coffee an essential stop off on your Launceston foodie tour. You’ll find it easy to see why it outranks many top London coffee shops.
Little Bakehouse is the newest addition to Launceston’s town centre foodie scene. Opening shortly after Firebrand on the site of an old sweet shop, the artisan sourdough bakery serves up fresh breads, soups, cakes and coffee, as well as the occasional quiche. It’s been wonderfully done out with lovely touches such as a big farmhouse table for you to eat at with beautiful old crockery and cutlery.
The bakery is the second from Philip Hiscott and his wife Suzanne who already run the Little Bakehouse at Downgate. They always sold out when they brought their bread to Launceston’s monthly market in the town square so it made sense to look to Launceston when they decided to open a town centre bakery.
As members of the Real Bread Campaign they bake without any processing aids or artificial additives. If you’re self catering you’d be well advised to stop off and pick up a loaf or two.
If beer or cider your tipple of choice then a visit to The Beer Cellar is essential. Opened by Penpont Brewery, it offers a wide selection of some of the best Cornish craft beers and ciders for you to stock up on your way home. It’s not limited to local ales, however. Venture up Chings Alley and you’ll find a cellar full of beers from around the globe, ranging from Belgian Tripels to German Weissbier. Tarquin’s Dry Gin is also in stock for £30 per bottle, alongside their Cornish Pastis and Xanté cognac-based pear liqueur. The newly-launched Cornish deli range is also worth checking out if you enjoy interesting Cornish produce and gifts.
When Joe Thomson opened Firebrand, he did so out of a desire to serve up great American-style food using quality Cornish ingredients. His Rick Stein-trained brother Eddie came on board as head chef and the result was a being shortlisted for the title of Best Burger Joint in Cornwall within three months of opening and a fantastic response from foodies.
Back then, Jericho’s Kitchen – or Jericho’s Brasserie as it was known – was a good local cafe serving hearty food to the Launceston community. Recognising the desire for a more foodie-orientated offering, they’ve begun to make big changes and are focusing on promoting the provenance of local ingredients. Their Twitter feed is full of beautiful pictures of ingredients laid out before they are transformed into the final dish. Change is continuing a pace, with a new chef, new menu and new opening hours launched on 23 March. We’re looking forward to seeing its continued evolution.
Launceston is becoming an essential stop off for any foodie heading into Cornwall. Whether you want a quick bite, or your family would like to spend a day in a beautiful town to round off your trip, it’s ideally located on the A30 next to the Devon border.
Parking is just £2 all day Monday to Friday and £1 all day Saturday in the Upper Cattle Market car park. On Sundays all the car parks are free. For details of attractions including Launceston Castle, Lawrence House Museum, the 13th century St Mary’s Church and Launceston Steam Railway, visit Launceston Tourist Information Centre.
The Bell Inn – one of the town’s oldest pubs which dates back to the 15th century – is currently being refurbished as a real ale pub. We hope it will warrant inclusion on our Launceston town centre foodie list when it reopens later this spring.
Where to visit:
Firebrand Bar & Restaurant – lunch, dinner and drinks – 5-7 Southgate Street, Launceston, PL15 9DP
Little Bakehouse – lunch, cakes, bread – 26 Church Street, Launceston, PL15 8AR
Philip Warren – butcher – 1 Westgate Street, Launceston, PL15 7AB
Liberty Coffee – coffee and cakes – 4 Northgate Street, Launceston, PL15 8BD
The Beer Cellar – craft beer, cider and Cornish deli products – 3 Chings Alley, Launceston, PL15 9TD
Jericho’s Kitchen – lunch and dinner – 4 Northgate Street, Launceston, PL15 8BD
June 13 – Launceston Food and Drink Festival
July 25 – Lanson Grill Fest
Click to view all events at Firebrand Bar & Restaurant