Ugly Butterfly Restaurant & Bar

Ugly Butterfly Restaurant and Bar is an award-winning restaurant in the picturesque Cornish Atlantic setting, just a couple of miles from St Ives. It offers spectacular views across one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Carbis Bay. The sound of the ocean and the simplicity of perfectly-cooked local food makes every visit and unforgettable one.

Thoughtful interior adds to the experience at Ugly Butterfly

Thoughtful interior adds to the experience at Ugly Butterfly

Chef Adam Handling

Ugly Butterfly showcases chef Adam Handling’s passion for converting locally-sourced, quality ingredients into mouthwatering dishes packed with flavor but that are also so Instagrammable. Adam also owns the Michelin starred Frog by Adam Handling restaurant and Eve bar in London’s Covent Garden and The Loch & The Tyne in Old Winsor.

Chef Adam Handling & George Hersey. Photo credit John Hersey

Chef Adam Handling & George Hersey. Photo credit John Hersey

Scottish Chef of the Year

Scottish-born, Chef Adam, discovered his love and passion for food at the age of 16, as a young apprentice at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel, in Scotland, and never looked back. He then became Fairmont’s youngest-ever Head Chef and has won a number of awards including Scottish Chef of the Year, British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year, Chef of the Year in the Food & Travel Awards. Adam was (and still is) the youngest person to be one of the Caterer’s ‘30 under 30 to watch’ in the 2013 Acorn Awards. Most recently, Adam received Restaurateur of the Year in the British GQ Food and Drink Awards 2020, voted both by the public and a selection of esteemed industry judges, and he was awarded a Michelin star at Frog by Adam Handing in 2022.

Food or art?

Food or art?

Adam’s cooking is all about celebrating incredible produce– his dishes are packed full of flavor to really make those ingredients shine. He has shared his philosophy and recipes in three books that he has recently published which are on sale at his restaurants, Frog, Why Waste? And Perfect, Three Cherries.

Masterpieces in food form

Masterpieces in food form

Ugly Butterfly

Adam explains the reasoning behind the name Ugly Butterfly: “The restaurant is built on sustainability and zero-waste. Our team believes that food waste shouldn’t exist – it’s a passion that runs through all our veins since I really learned and understood the concept of zero-waste from my time spent in Japan. The point is both food waste and butterflies are beautiful.”

Why waste?

Why waste?

He says there is no such thing as an ugly butterfly, in the same way, that – with skilled people – there is no such thing as food waste.

The Ugly Butterfly bar uses trims and offcuts from the ingredients used in the restaurant to create delicious drinks and bar snacks.

The Menu

The restaurant offers menus for meat eaters, Vegetarians, Pescatarians and Vegans and a comprehensive wine and cocktail menu. A visit to Ugly Butterfly is more than a meal or drink, it is food theatre as the open kitchen allows diners to see chefs at work and at the vibrant bar there is usually a patron filming the bartenders at work, ala Tom Cruise in Cocktail style.

Ugly Butterfly was opened in September 2021, and the Adam Handling Restaurant Group team themselves came up with the design and décor, which beautifully reflects the location and the Group’s sustainability ethos.

The menu

A visit to Ugly Butterfly is more than a meal or drink, it is food theatre

The Wine List

Creation of the wine list is a collaborative process, with input from the Group’s sommeliers and from George Hersey, Restaurant Director, who has extensive knowledge and love for wines, and who organizes the very special wine events at Ugly Butterfly.

“We design our wine list primarily to complement our menus, and we offer wine pairings for each of the courses. The wine list is easy to navigate and understand, regardless of prior wine knowledge. We have a good list of wines by the glass, and for bottles, we header the sections; Effervescence; a celebration of champagne and sparkling wines, Quintessential; a selection of classical and recognizable varietals and regions, Adventure; a discovery of the unusual, lesser-known varieties, regions and growers and lastly, Opulence; fine, rare and vintage wines. We find that separating into these subsections immediately makes the guest feel comfortable, and if they need any more help, we can give individual advice when we talk to the diners,” says Adam.

A wine list fit for any oenophile

A wine list fit for any oenophile

Wines From Across The Globe

The wine list is compiled by and comprises some of the world’s best wines from South Africa, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Chile, Australia, Portugal, Spain and England and a section for adventurers with wines from Cyprus, the USA, Japan, Canada and Hungary. Among the premium South African wines on offer is the Waterkloof Mourvédre Cape Coral Rosé and Glenwood The Vignerons Selection Chardonnay. Find your guide to South African wines here.

The Ugly Butterfly at night

The Ugly Butterfly at night

The Location

The venue’s beach location offers easy access after a long day building sandcastles with the children and situated directly on the beach, the lodges at Carbis Bay Resort, where Ugly Butterfly is situated, combine seaside chic with hot tubs and roof or beach gardens. The lodge boasts spacious open-plan lounges with floor-to-ceiling windows leading to private sun decks.

Gorgeous views await diners at the restaurant

Gorgeous views await diners at the restaurant

The interior

Seaside chic

Chef Adam’s Recipe For BBQ Mackerel, English Peas & Their Husk

Serves 8


Prep time: 30 minutes


8 fresh mackerel fillets, cleaned and boneless 30g table salt

1lt water

100ml white wine

30ml nasturtium vinegar

30g caster sugar

5g white peppercorns, cracked

2 fresh bay leaves

4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

3 thyme sprigs

3 mint sprigs

2 bay leaves

15g smoked sea salt


Prepare the mackerel by running your knife down the spine of the mackerel, whilst it’s on its side. Continuously run your knife down the back of the fish to remove the fillet from the spine. Using tweezers, remove all the pin bones and then, using a sharp knife, remove the bloodline. Brine the mackerel in salt and water for 10 minutes. Make the pickle by incorporating all of the remaining ingredients and warming in a saucepan. Chill the pickle and pour it over the brined fish.


Prep time: 10 minutes


150g watercress

150g parsley

50g lovage

50g rocket

0.23g xanthan gum

2.3g table salt


Blanch the herbs in boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into ice-cold water.

Remove and squeeze dry. Put through a soft fruit juicer. Add the xanthan gum, or 0.1%by weight, to 200ml of the juice. Heat the mixture in a saucepan until slightly thickened. Chill immediately, over an ice bath, to retain that beautiful green colour.

Pea Panna Cotta

Prep time: 3 hours


300ml white chicken stock

4 gelatine leaves

200g English pea pods

9g table salt

150ml double cream

50ml chlorophyll


Blanch the pea pods for 45 seconds. Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and warm. Bloom the gelatine in an ice bath, squeeze to remove all the water and add it to the chicken stock. Pour the mixture into a blender and add the pea pods. Add the salt, while blending the mixture, and then leave to chill over ice. Whilst chilling, semi-whip the cream and then add the chlorophyll. Combine the chilled mixture with the chlorophyll cream. Pour 85g of pea panna cotta into bowls and freeze.

Pea pod oil

Prep time: 12 hours


300g pea pods

300ml sunflower oil


Make equal weights of pea pods to sunflower oil and, in batches, blend on full speed for 3 minutes. Pour out the oil into a tray, on an ice bath. Repeat the method until all the pea pods and oil are used up. When cold, place into a superbag and hang in the fridge overnight. Hang at an angle, so that the following day, after resting, we can retain the oil and leave the water.


Prep time: 10 minutes


800g fresh English peas

100ml pea pod oil


Add the peas to boiling, salted water for 1 minute and then refresh in ice-cold water. Dress in the pea pod oil.



Fennel sprigs

Alyssum flowers

For serving

Remove the panna cotta from the freezer. Top with the dressed, seasoned peas. Place 3 pieces of the mackerel fillet on top. Finish with the herbs and flowers.

BBQ Mackerel, English Peas & Their Husk

BBQ Mackerel, English Peas & Their Husk

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BY Maryke Roberts | April 7, 2023

Maryke is an award-winning, Cape Winelands based journalist who has been writing about local and international wine and travel for over three decades. When she's home, her days are almost exclusively concluded with a walk on the beach and a glass of South African fine wine or spirits.

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