On the square with chef Paul Ainsworth
Paul Ainsworth is probably best known for his wildly over the top 'Trip to the Fairground' dessert he created for the BBC's Great British menu series this year. You can try it for your self at Ainsworth's smart No 6 restaurant in Padstow if you've got the odd £21 burning a hole in your pocket. As that feeds two, and the prices on the rest of the menu are hardly greedy, you can't begrudge the chef cashing in just a little bit on his telly fame.
However, if you're after a more relaxed, affordable and family friendly experience, then his new venture, Rojano's on the Square just around the corner from No 6 might better fit the bill. Ainsworth has taken over a Padstow institution that's been around for three decades and bought it bang up to date. The smart, modern interior is decked out with black and white Rome-themed photos and Warhol-style screen prints of Lambrettas.
The menu is somewhat in the tradition of Jamie's Italian-olives are 'the best', tomato bread is 'really garlicky' and fries with garlic and parsley are 'funky'- but Ainsworth beats Oliver at his own game. Presentation, quality of ingredients and portion size are all a notch above the famous high street chain. But that's as it should be - this is a one off after all, although the price point is very close. Service is utterly charming and attentive.
Nearly everything delights, with only some lower quality pitted black olives on a 'rustico sottile' ultra thin pizza and an overly-large and less than thrilling accompaniment of peppers, chorizo and potato with some beautifully cooked fillets of lemon sole falling short of the mark.
An antipasto of parma ham, salami milano, spianata calabrese, bresáola, salami napoli, baked cheese, porcini relish, pickles, olives and rosemary toasts sounds expensive at £20 but would easily satisfy four as a starter or two as a light lunch.
Ainsworth has filled a gap in the Padstow market for high quality, casual Italian dining with the sort of easy style that could happily translate to the high steet; the first floor 'grazing bar' is a nice on-trend metropolitan touch. Watch out Jamie?
Calamari, garlic mayo (in the bucket) sweet chilli tomato salad
Mozzarella arancini with Arrabiata sauce
Capricossa pizza - ultra thin crispy base but what's with the cheap pitted olives?
Linguini al gamberi e rucola
Rock fries with truffle and parmesan
Fish of the day - lemon sole with potatoes, chorizo and peppers
White chocolate pannacotta, berry compote and honeycomb
Rojano's in the Square
9 Mill Square
01841 532 796; rojanos.co.uk