I packed for all eventualities in St Ives. Big coat and little coat. Cardigans, t-shirts, waterproofs and scarves. More bottles of wine than pants but only one pair of trainers. A notepad, some books, and no idea what I was going to wear for the fancy dress spectacle of New Year’s Eve. In truth I needed little of them, getting out in the carpark at the top of the hill to a beautifully balmy December evening. It feels perpetually warm down here, the palm trees feel in place and the mere suggestion of snow as something mythical. I unashamedly love St Ives. Been coming here for twenty years. That iconic view of the harbour which swipes in from Carbis Bay, with the technicolour of homes and shops that roll up the peninsular and back over towards the surf of Porthmeor beach. I love the easy culture and how reassuringly expensive it is. St Ives is a classy place. Well, maybe on all nights except New Year’s Eve when I became a little tired of praying for the safety of the drunk kids who dance on roofs and paddle in the sea dressed as jellyfish. I never wore an outfit if you were wondering, so consider that I was dressed as either Jude Law or Jack Black from The Holiday, depending on when the last time you saw me.

We ate pretty well considering how under prepared I was. As with any resort filled with tourists, the results are variable. Here is what I found from a few days in the most beautiful of spots.

Little Palais

I ended up in Little Palais every day. Sometimes on multiple occasions. Great drinks – really great drinks – that have the ease of somewhere like ‘Bar with Shapes For A Name’ in East London. All natural wines and a small team who just get it. The food is excellent, from ‘nduja on aerated cheesy toast with a lick of honey, to the crab rarebit which was easily the best thing I ate in Cornwall. Stick this place anywhere and it will be a success; make it smack-bang-central of the harbour with the prettiest of views and you have a bar which is really very special.

St Eia

A natural wine bar I was sent to by the good folk at Grace and James, who, let’s be honest, will know a great natty wine bar when they see one. Superb selection of wine and great aperitifs in a lovely, chilled setting. I gather they do very nice food, though on the day I visited they were not serving so you’ll have to take Henry’s word for it.


The coffee is excellent, I need to make that much clear. They really understand how to get the best from the beans. The food, sadly, was nowhere near as good. I tried one dish on the all the veggie/vegan menu and it wasn’t great. An incredibly rustic beans on toast with grated cheddar, it lacked depth and seasoning and is hard to justify some fairly punchy prices when this is the result.

Harbour Fish and Chips

The overly romanticised notion of getting the best fish and chips by the seaside is blown apart by Harbour Fish and Chips. Fundamentally flawed from the off, the batter was so thick the poor haddock had tragically overcooked to cottonwool by the time it came out the fryer. I liked the chips that were cooked to a sugary bronze and reminded me of home, though the tartare sauce was a lazy embarrassment. Apparently far better can be had from a chippy on an industrial estate in Carbis Bay.

Source Kitchen

We swung by for snacks on the last day and would have spent more time here had we known how good it was. A good flatbread sprung to life by a muhammara full of purpose, and arancini of cauliflower cheese loaded with flavour. They have a team here that understand how to cook as well as how to mix a drink. Extremely likeable and very affordable.