Tell us a bit about Alba, how long has it been open in St Ives?
Establishing the Alba restaurant nearing 15 years ago in St Ives, we have recently undergone a conversion to the ground floor of the restaurant; converting to a contemporary bar offering a collection of exciting cocktails, craft beers, coffee, cakes and small plates. We have retained the fine dining restaurant on the first floor which overlooks the beautiful harbour of St Ives. We specialise in local produce, line caught fish and seasonal vegetables. Our Chef Patron, Grant Nethercott draws influence from French cuisine – but would class our the cuisine at Alba as a modern British style.
We currently house a great collection of St Ives artists in the first floor restaurant ranging from the likes of Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost to Alfred Wallis.
What made you decide to open a restaurant in St Ives?
The initial attraction to St Ives came from my father being a keen surfer in the the nineties although openly admits that he hasn’t hit the waves since running the restaurant. St Ives is unique and has a lot to offer, whether it’s the beaches, food, art, culture or weather! It’s a great creative town to be a part of.
What are the biggest influences on the Alba menu?
Our Chef Patron, Grant Nethercott draws influence from local seasonal produce teamed with his passion and previous experience with French cuisine. He gained invaluable experience working at the two Michelin star restaurant, Hotel le Centenaire at Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Dordogne in France. It gives him an insight into how a kitchen works at such a high level. He often says that looking back at what they were cooking then, it is more relevant today than it was nearly 30 years ago.
In terms of local produce, what are some of your favourite local ingredients to cook with?
Some of my father’s favourite ingredients to work with include line-caught seabass which are from the local boats in the harbour to Cornish blue lobster which are from the lobster pots that are put down in St Ives bay. So both very much local and sustainable which is an important element to us at the Alba. They are both such widely regards as world class ingredients and we are very fortunate to have these on our doorstep.
Does your menu change from season to season and if so, what will be your biggest influences this Autumn?
Autumn is a great time for a variety of wild mushroom; girolles and cepes to name a few – you will find them popping up in our dishes at the moment. Real autumnal flavours. Our menu is always reflective of the seasons and the menu is tailored to what is available.
To guests visiting St Ives, what would you recommend they do doing their stay?
St Ives is a great area of England to visit. Sometimes you can forget that you’re in the UK.
On a clear blue today you could be mistaken for being in the Mediterranean.
St Ives is renowned for its art culture – we have the Tate Gallery to experience, the beautiful gardens at the home and gallery space of the late Barbara Hepworth who’s stunning sculptures can be found around St Ives. We do have an original Hepworth in our art collection in the first floor restaurant. We have Academy and Port of Call a mere two minutes away from the restaurant where you can pick up the latest fashion trends and stunning Skandi inspired homeware. Walking around the old part of the town in Downalong you can stumble across an array of creative art spaces from The Sloop Craft market which houses a number of exciting artists from all disciplines to Fish Pi Pottery on Back Road East – all perfect places to pick up some local art and memorable pieces.
The design of Alba’s restaurant and bar is incredible! Talk us through the design inspiration and process?
Thank you, late last year we underwent our full refurbishment. Which allowed us to transform the ground floor level of the restaurant into a contemporary bar serving cocktails, craft beers and small plates along with coffees and cakes throughout the day while still holding on to our core values upstairs in the restaurant. It creates an exciting new dynamic which is a little bit different for St Ives. We worked with Kathryn Tyler from Linea Studio in Falmouth who has worked on same amazing projects who has also been featured on Grand Designs. She very much understood our vision of creating something new and different for St Ives.
What’s in-store for Alba in the near future?
We have some exciting events in the pipeline for both Alba and A-Bar which will include a dining experiences perfectly paired with wines in our restaurant to regular tastings in our bar. We have previously collaborated with Brooklyn Brewery on a five course dining experience which were paired with Brooklyn brewery’s finest to a Japanese whisky night, to a Champagne and bubbles evening in the A-Bar which are accompanied with light nibbles designed to compliment each tasting.
We have some exciting projects we are working on for Easter 2017 – but I am afraid you will need to keep posted on those as we’re unable to release any information yet. You can keep up to date on our website www.alba-stives.co.uk