Just a week ago, after a long walk along narrow cobbled streets and a visit to the playground nearby Penlee gallery, my guys and I had lunch at Admiral Benbow in Penzance.
Admiral Benbow is one of the oldest drinking places in Penzance. It has a unique history and an extraordinary interior design.
We first visited this pub in 2009, when Sasha was the same age as Eddie now, and Eddie hasn't been born yet. My in-laws were travelling with us then. It was a horse-riding holiday, and we have very fond memories of staying at The Old Vicarage in St Hilary. If you are looking for a great place to do horse-riding in Cornwall, check out The Old Vicarage.
Eddie knew of this place, as he has seen our old photos.
|Sasha and I in Admiral Benbow, 2009|
|Admiral Benbow, 2017|
The pub was nearly empty when we arrived.
When we have taken seats around one of the tables, the lady who brought the menus snapped at Sasha as he had a half empty bottle of Pepsi with him, saying that he's not allowed to drink anything bought elsewhere. Fair enough, but she could have been more polite about it.
We did get drinks for everyone in the pub, including one for Sasha which he didn't touch. Being autistic, he has his own ideas on which drink is acceptable while going out to a cafe or restaurant, and that in his opinion is Pepsi (which they didn't have).
The menu wasn't very inspiring. I wanted something light and ordered soup of the day, which was borlotti beans and savoy cabbage. At about a fiver, it was reasonably priced. The bread was fresh and tasty, the soup could do with more flavour.
I asked for half a pint of local ale, and it was lovely. I think it was called Proper Job, or something funny like that.
Kids had chips and sausages. Eddie enjoyed the chipolatas, but didn't finish the chips, saying they were not very good. He did nick some of ham from his Dad's plate though.
My husband had ham and eggs with chips. When he asked for some bread, it took ages for it to arrive. He almost finished his meal by the time bread was brought to the table.
The food is the typical pub grub, nothing special.
What you pay for is the ambiance. The pub is a maze of small rooms and enclosed spaces, with maritime ephemera covering all the walls.
In that, it is a pretty unique space, with some amazing finds, from beautiful vintage artefacts to total kitsch. It can compete with any local museum.
When we had lunch, the pub wasn't very busy, so the staff wasn't rushed off their feet. Yet they were not very friendly, and the service was pretty slow.
Also I don't like loud muzak, when I am eating. I found it quite annoying.
So, a mixed bag: a fascinating place with an average food and mediocre service.
We visit Penzance every year, and we might come back, if boys decide they want to see it again.
Eddie certainly wanted to explore its nooks and crannies, and apparently there are lovely views from the rooms upstairs.
And of course, for fans of Treasure Island this pub holds a special place, as Jim Hawkins' parents own it. For that reason alone I would suggest visiting it. As long as you don't expect much food-wise.