John Dack and Lamorna Curtis, Dax Delicatessen
Sat at a pavement table on a bright sunny summer’s day, watching the world go by, I could have been anywhere on the continent. In front of me was a delicious, frothy cappuccino and freshly baked ciabatta bread filled with straight-out-of-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth pork. Behind me was a glass counter brimming with delicacies like lobster, crab, olives, prawns, mussels, cheeses and a variety of hams and other meats.
It was my second lunch at Dax Delicatessen in Camborne’s main street and I came with a list of requests. The shop’s Portuguese custard tarts have proved a particular hit in the office so Lamorna Curtis, who assists owner John Dack, promised to put a new batch in whilst I munched happily away.
John opened his deli just before Christmas last year. With long experience of the food industry, he is particularly fond of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian products – a passion that’s obvious in the vibrant, colourful display of food on offer. It’s good value too. My sandwich and coffee came to just under £5 and the bill to a lady who came in whilst I was there and ordered three crab claws and two langoustines was just £4.54. No wonder the couple at the table in front of me were studying the Mediterranean cookbook they had brought in with them – their recipe no doubt chosen according to the ingredients available.
Dax Delicatessen has quickly become popular judging by the number of people coming in and out whilst I was there but it’s by no means a food anomaly in today’s Camborne. Wandering down the street, I found the weekly produce market. It wasn’t big but it transformed Commercial Square with its well set out stalls brimming with appetising homemade cakes, bread, pies, locally reared meat, cheeses made from Cornish milk and locally made jams, honey, crafts, flowers and fruit. I could have been in France or Italy were it not for the fact that fellow customers were speaking my language and I was only about ten miles from home.
A further stroll took me past takeaway outlets Delight 2 Bite and the newly opened Camborne Deli. The former was set up by Sharron Lipscombe-Manley who was Catering Manager at the Hall for Cornwall for ten years before starting her own business and the latter by Sarah Leggett who used to work for the National Blood Service. The shops are situated in different streets and both are reportedly doing a brisk trade with their mouth-watering array of freshly made, locally sourced food. The Algarve Delicacies cafe and takeaway in Cross Street – specialising, as its name suggests, in Portuguese cuisine – is fast-gaining a great reputation too, with its platters of very large prawns on a bed of rice and the great customer service particularly worthy of mention.
A restaurant that is making a big impression in the town is The Italian in New Connexion Street. Described as a pizzeria, the extensive menu includes starters like Melanzane Parmigiana (baked layers of aubergines, with basil, tomato and mozzarella), Cozze alla Marinara (steamed mussels, garlic, tomatoes and white wine) and Gamberoni all’aglio (pan-fried king prawns in garlic sauce) and mains that include a variety of pasta, risotto, fish and meat dishes – as well a range of pizzas. Trip Advisor reviews are almost universally excellent and have earned the thriving business an official Trip Advisor recommendation.
It was good to see several independent butchers, a greengrocer and fishmonger in the town – all with people browsing and buying – plus many other independent cafes, restaurants and take-outs, alongside big chains like Subway, Costa, Table Table and Wetherspoon. Indeed, Camborne has become so busy that Wetherspoon had to increase the size of their kitchen and have now built 35-room accommodation in The John Francis Bassett – their first hotel in Cornwall. Not to be out done, the Premier Inn has applied for an extra 46 bedrooms to be built – adding to the 63 it already has – and the town’s two longer-established hotels, Tyacks and the Lowenac, offer a high standard of non-resident dining as well as rooms.
“Camborne is really changing and improving and that is particularly evident in the range and quality of its food businesses,” said Manager of BID Camborne, Mel Martin. “Prices are good, as is the choice, and that is all contributing to attracting more people to the town centre. It helps too that Camborne is situated centrally, midway between the north and south Cornish coast and it’s easy to access from the main A30. “As a Business Improvement District, we’re delighted with the increased footfall and, having just launched a new town website and a new town guide, we’re looking forward to helping even more visitors and residents discover Camborne’s diverse culinary, commercial and cultural treasures.”
Clutching my bag of freshly baked Portuguese tarts and my waistband a little tighter, it’s an experience I wholeheartedly recommend.