The Harbourside Refuge recalls the time when the south Cornish coast was a notorious black spot for shipwrecks battered by the prevailing so’westerlies that sweep up from the Atlantic. The harbour was created not only to provide a safe haven for passing ships and for its own fishing fleet, but also to serve as a base for the shipping from local quarries of pure white china clay, rich in kaoline, destined for the British bone china industry.
Cornish heritage and gastronomic culture come together in The Harbourside Refuge by Michael Caines. You can’t help but be aware of the beauty and power of the sea when you come here, and also of the rich bounty that it has perennially yielded to those intrepid fisherman that brave its wrath. With fish and shellfish landed directly on Porthleven’s harbourside, and with good things to eat and drink coming from the Cornish hinterland, Michael Caines has created a special restaurant that celebrates Cornwall and its bounty.
Here he offers a flexible and family-friendly dining experience that uses the freshest, locally sourced produce and ingredients. This is a place to come to enjoy foods prepared with skill and care by Michael’s team, on the rooftop terrace or indoors looking out on the harbour. Start your day with the perfect latte or flat white, or visit in the evening for a glass or bottle of Cornish sparkling or still wine, or a bottle of local ale or cider. We are here to welcome you throughout the day and evening.
The Harbourside Refuge is Michael’s second venture on the south Cornish coastline. This rugged outpost is located in a remarkable and breathtaking position, just up from The Lizard, the most southwesterly point in mainland Great Britain. Here you cannot help but feel completely immersed in nature, yet also wonder at how man has managed to shape and try and control it. When huge waves break over the harbour wall, seemingly almost a high as the Bickford-Smith Institute’s 70 foot clock tower, you can’t help but feel powerless in the face of such grandeur and majesty. Porthleven’s harbour wall dates back to the Napoleonic era, constructed mostly by French prisoners of war. Visit Porthleven and explore the South West Coast Footpath or enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Visit Lizard Point, discover Helston or St Michael’s Mount.
Here at The Harbourside Refuge we are very proud to support local charities and all the fantastic work that they do.
At the restaurant, we charge a 50p discretionary donation, with all the proceeds going towards our selected charities.
We are delighted to be working with RNLI Lifeboats, The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity and The Fishermen’s Mission, to raise funds for their brilliant causes.
Our Restaurant Manager Andrew was born in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham and attended a boarding school from the age of eight when his parents moved to Africa and then the Caribbean with his father’s job.
After leaving school he went onto a Hotel Management college and studied a National Diploma at Stafford College. For his 18th Birthday his parents bought him a flying lesson and he went on to pass his pilot’s licence before his driving licence and subsequently decided to enrol on a commercial pilot’s course at Flight Safety International in Florida.
However he felt too young at 19 to become a pilot and returned to his first passion in hotels and restaurants, moving back to the UK taking his first full time role as senior chef de rang at the Island Hotel on Tresco, on the Isles of Scilly, where he spent two wonderful seasons on the beautiful isles.
He has continued in the hospitality industry for over 25 years, predominately in the South West in a variety of roles and most recently, Andrew was General Manager of a four-star hotel and two rosette restaurant in Penzance.
Having lived in Cornwall since 2004 with his two children growing up here this is now his home.
Andrew is relishing working with Michael at the Harbourside Refuge and integrating himself in the local community of the beautiful fishing village of Porthleven.
Gareth is delighted to be back in Cornwall, especially working under the guidance of chef Michael Caines.
A big influence of Gareth’s is his family, who owned a small hotel with his Mum as head cook. Her traditional menus encouraged Gareth to start cooking.
His first role was at Porthminster Beach Cafe in St Ives, followed by a role at Porthgwidden Beach, where he helped establish the successful Blue Fish Restaurant that specialises in Spanish, seafood and tapas.
Having worked in a variety of restaurants and establishments throughout the United Kingdom, Gareth also has experience in Europe, working in Switzerland at a Dutch Bistro and Sushi Bar.
Gareth said: “Cornwall is my home and I’m so excited to be a part of this fantastic restaurant and team.
“The variety and quality of the produce here is second to none, from the seafood to the farm food Cornwall has on its doorstep.
“I’m thrilled to be here in Porthleven working towards providing the best dining experience for our guests at The Harbourside Refuge.”
Cornwall, the most westerly county in England, is a place many people deeply love. Whether from childhood holidays, beachside festivals, visiting quaint fishing villages or hitting the surf; the county has a little something for everyone. With over 400 miles of coastline; the English Channel to the south, the Celtic Sea to the west and Bristol Channel to the north; there is so much to see, do and discover. There are lots of things Cornwall is loved for besides its dramatic coastline; the spectacular beaches and pounding surf that provide a natural playground for a variety of watersports, the wilderness of Bodmin Moor with its captivating panorama of big skies, a dynamic art scene found in West Cornwall and a world-class food scene that has, in recent years, started to rival even London. Despite being renowned, along with Devon, for the infamous cream tea, Cornwall has a multitude of award-winning local food producers and stellar chefs putting the region well and truly on the ‘food lovers’ map
Rich in history and culture Porthleven is the southern most port on the mainland of Great Britain. Its picturesque harbour was originally created as a safe haven for sea vessels travelling along the beautiful yet rugged south Cornish coast. The harbour faces south west into the prevailing wind, and during the winter storms, people visit the town to watch the waves crashing over the sea defences. The west of the harbour is the perfect spot for rock pooling at low tide and up high on the cliffs, the abandoned engine houses of the tin mines can be seen. Back in the village, you can look up to Tregonning Hill a now extinct volcano and the spot where china clay was discovered and shipped out.
The unspoilt fishing village has been inhabited for over 1000 years and is now a popular place to visit for walking holidays, discovering the coastal path and popular nearby attractions. For the more adventurous and skilled surfer the southern outlook is the perfect spot and the nearby Praa sands a family friendly sandy beach.
Our location puts us in the heart of two of the regions most beautiful heritage coasts. Roseland Heritage Coast, easily one of the most picturesque and unspoilt parts of Cornwall has golden beaches, delightful rivers, quaint villages and dramatic cliffs which all combine to make this area the perfect setting. Visitors can walk the Coast Path, take a dip in the Atlantic, browse the shops or most importantly, sample the Cornish cuisine.
The Lizard Heritage Coast stretches from Porthleven to Ends Head and possesses the warmest climate in Britain. The peninsula, while generally rough and ragged, is a place of gentle heath and coastal grassland and has an abundance of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – a reflection of its unique plant and wildlife. Sub-tropical vegetation grows along the cliffs, a tribute to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, and the peninsula is home to one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds, Cirl’s Bunting.