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harryb

Good places to eat in South Devon (South Hams)

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I'm looking for recommendations of places to eat in South Devon, ideally the south hams area.

Like many EGulleters I'm looking primarily looking for good food rather than fancy decor. So I'm up for anything from seafood shacks (like the one near bigbury) to restaurants.

Far too many times I've not been impressed by many of the local places and ended up at the seafood wholesalers in plymouth picking up some nice fish to cook ourselves, but I'm resolving this time is going to be different!

We're actually staying near Bantham/Thurlestone.

Cheers,

Harry

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the seafood restaurant at the rose and crown in yealmpton always does well and for a light snack effings in totnes. fish and chips are usually good in slapton. simon

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Was going to post nearer time but we are also off to Suoth Devon on our hols in July - Newton Ferrers to be exact. So would be interested to hear of any more recs.

Have heard of the Oyster Shack - but sure I read a so-so newspaper review about it.

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there is also the plantation house in ermington which i have nt heard many things about. there is a place in salcombe that is called restaurant 42 but last time we were there we were put off by the very high prices . subsequently it is now up for sale but i am not sure if they are still open. unfortunately next thing is plymouth and apart from the 2 tanner restaurants there is nt much there. simon

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In Totnes there is a place called Rumour, its a really nice place to eat, not too expensive and a good atmosphere. The head chef used to work for us in Padstow and then ran John Burton race's cookery school. I had a lovely meal there the other day.

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Am off to Devon in two days, does anyone have anymore to add?

22 Mill Street Chagford

www.22millstreetrestaurant.co.uk

Agaric, Ashburton

www.agaricrestaurant.co.uk

Both good local restaurants, been to both and can thoroughly recommend them.

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Well if you're going to check out Totnes for Rumour there's also Effings - which rather rubbed me the wrong way but is well regarded (and a favourite of my mother) and Willow, a rather fine vegetarian restaurant.

Effings is a tiny restaurant in a deli on the main street, the kind of place you could easily pass over if it weren't for the excellent reviews from both local and national press posted in the window.

Unfortunately I found the service to be rather off-hand, perhaps because we arrived just before the switch from lunch to the afternoon menu, but the food was good.

I went for an antipasto plate at ~£15 which was loaded with more quality meats than I could manage, and a small selection of cheese and artichokes too. Aparrently the goat cheese and potato tart was good too.

Overall, the prices were perhaps somewhat higher than the service and ambience deserved but I really enjoyed getting a good look at the tiny kitchen when I went to the bathroom. I'm pretty nosey when you get a chance to look at restaurant kitchens!

A bit further out of the way is the excellent Orestone Manor, where I'm going again in a couple of weeks. It was changing owners around the time I last went there and I'm not sure what new imprint might be on it now.

I had fishcakes with poached eggs to start - the lightly bound fish reminding me of a more rustic version of Thai fishcakes. Confit of duck leg followed and was as perfect as the dish can be. I went for a cheese plate rather than a sweet dessert but tried the strawberry gazpacho, which was delicious too. The cheese plate was remarkably substantial, particularly bearing in mind that we were eating the set lunch menu at ~£20 a head.

Overall Orestone Manor really hit all my buttons - a setting with lots of character, charming service, a good bar and excellent food. Worth a detour for.


Edited by dharold (log)

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So I tried Rumour last week thanks to CaptainJack's recomedation.

The printed menus just contain a selection of pizzas and sides -- the real action is on the boards, where the daily menu is updated. All the produce is local and I could have happily chosen any one of the half dozen options for main course.

The vegetable tempura was excellent. A pork rillette could have done with rather more fat for my taste but was probably right on the money for the rather more health conscious locals.

My main course was a flavoursome steak with fries; Kate had a sea bream curry, which had great feel and taste.

I had a jelly of strawberries and balsamic vinegar with basil ice-cream served on the side in a filo shell - very special indeed. I had half a mind to immediately order peach melba as well, but the afternoon was wearing on.

The meal (two starters, three main and one dessert), including two bottles of Devonshire water, was ~£45. Good value from a place I'll be revisiting.

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I had a very good meal at Orestone Manor on 29th June 07, we stayed the night and were well looked after.

My only, very small quibble was the rather small portion of turbot that was served for one of the mains but I know it is expensive so perhaps understandable. I had a very generous portion of guinea fowl which we shared to balance it off. The apple calvados souffle dessert was beautifully cooked and presented.

The company I work for are organising a large 5 day conference in Torquay this September so if anyone has any recommendations for Torquay town centre I would be very interested. I have eaten at the Elephant and that is on the list of good places to eat but there will be over 400 at the conference all looking for evening meals!

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The company I work for are organising a large 5 day conference in Torquay this September so if anyone has any recommendations for Torquay town centre I would be very interested. I have eaten at the Elephant and that is on the list of good places to eat but there will be over 400 at the conference all looking for evening meals!

The Elephant is pretty clearly the best I've eaten at in Torquay, but since they only have 80-odd covers in total (24 fine dining and 60 brasserie) you could extend to The Orchid at Corbyn Head Hotel and maybe No 7, which is almost next door to The Elephant.

Or if you want to try and get large groups together the Grand Hotel and the downstairs restaurant at Corbyn Head Hotel are decent.

Sadly most of the places in downtown Torquay are Brewers Fayre/Hogshead-style dives. There are one or two mainstream places that are ok, Prezzo for example is fine and Pier Point is acceptable.

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dharold - I am very grateful for your ideas for eating in Torquay, all very useful.

The Grand Hotel in Torquay are doing the food for the ice-breaker party on the first night - they did a sample menu for us when we were choosing venues but that was a year ago now. We have been back a few times since but things can change so quickly - good to see them on your list.

Can anyone can nominate a good fish and chip shop/restaurant in Torquay? I am expecting a few of our overeseas visitors, in Britain for the first time, to want to try this and would hate for them to get a really bad example.

many thanks

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Beat me to it!

Absolutely Hanbury's - there's a good reason it keeps getting in chip-shop top 10 lists. But they will need to book for the restaurant, or they can go to their take away next door and eat it on the sea front (cliff) at the end of the road. Anyone who's going, there's a large car park next door, cheaper to park after 7pm.

I recommend the mushy pea fritters too!

d.

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The Grand Hotel in Torquay are doing the food for the ice-breaker party on the first night - they did a sample menu for us when we were choosing venues but that was a year ago now.  We have been back a few times since but things can change so quickly - good to see them on your list.

I mentioned them because my mother ate there last week, in the private dining room, a group of about 10 I think and said the food was very good. Indeed I think they've now booked the same room for New Year's Eve so it must have impressed.

BTW, I've posted my full review of The Elephant to my blog today.

Here's the heavily edited highlights, since I think the whole thing is a bit long to post...

The dining room is well appointed and has views of the bay from most of the tables. Amuse bouche consisted of truffle-flavoured popcorn, chickpea hummus with bread sticks, and fat stuffed olives, served just after we ordered. Fun, summery fare.

To start Kate had Paignton crab 'martini' with creamed avocado, mango and mint salsa and warm crab beignet. My mother went for open ravioli of beetroot and Vulscombe goats' cheese with Somerset cider syrup and I took the ballotine of foie gras with peach chutney and granny smith jelly.

I tried all three, and they were each as delicious as they were beautifully presented. My mother in particular was very excited by the presentation of her sensitively deconstructed dish, but we all thought the plates looked great.

For main I tried the rump of Cornish lamb on celeriac puree with braised neck croquette. The lamb was perfectly-pink and the puree made it into a splendid dish. The neck croquette was rich, dark, and of mouth-pleasing crispness, I could happily have had four of those as a dish in itself. Kate and my mother both went for pan roasted day boat John Dory on parsnip puree with a verjus and spring onion butter which we'd read was a speciality of the house. The bit I tried was delicious.

Dessert for me was dark chocolate truffle with olive oil, hibiscus jelly and served with a huge glassy piece of moreish sea salt caramel. Kate's was rose and almond tansy pudding with lemon verbena ice cream which she was so enamoured of I didn't even get any of the pudding.

My mother took a selection of Westcountry Artisan cheeses which was so substantial we all got to share.

Cafetiere coffee or tea and petit fours are complementary and consisted of a good, lightly flavoured medium strength coffee with a soft chocolate ganache, a fruit jelly and creamy biscuit each.

Service was nicely pitched. The maitre'd showed up a couple of times and the two young ladies serving were good humoured.

The meal was £39.50 a head for three courses; rather embarrassingly I've forgotten what wine we had, a Pinot Grigio, but there was a good choice in the ~£20 range. Overall excellent value and a jewel in dining not just for Torquay, but Devon as a whole.

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Thanks for the Hanbury's fish and chip recommendation - I'll warn people they have to book to sit down and eat. I'm really hoping the weather will be good enough for folks to eat outside - good fish and chips by the sea - magic.

I know there is a large group from the conference booked into the Elephant for lunch one day - lucky them!

I might console myself with a mushy pea fritter.

many thanks

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Lunch at The Elephant is fun too - though I'd recommend dinner first of course!

I hadn't exactly planned to go to The Elephant twice in two days, but we were leaving the next day so what other chance whoud I have, and I had left my umbrella the night before so I needed to drop in... and that being the case surely there was time for the Set Menu at just £17.50 for three courses?

I started with the soup of the day, a sharp citrus foam sat on a carrot base, while Kate decided to skip the starters - avoiding the tasty looking mussels because she once had a bad experience with Pernod, which which they were flavoured.

We both had the Guinness battered fish & chips for main. Excellent fish, crisp batter and a tower built of chunky, perfectly shaped, chips.

Dessert was Sticky Toffee Pudding for me, served with a scoop of ice cream, and more of the Elephant's fine cheese selection for Kate. I got a running commentary on the status of the espresso machine (unwell) from our charming waitress while my coffee was prepared and when it came it was very good with a thick crema and just the right amount of bitter, biscuity flavour.

While I was enjoying the coffee chef Simon Hulstone appeared from the kitchen, evidently to check on deliveries being made at the front, and stopped by to chat about the effect of the weather on trade ("at least we don't have tables outside"), the whereabouts of Darron Bunn from Orestone Manor (Chasers Restaurant in Stokeinteignhead) and the changes he'd made to the place since we dropped in the previous summer (splitting the place into brasserie and fine dining). Hulstone was charming and self-effacing, particularly on the subject of the excellent PR the place had been getting lately (he'd not seen the Conde Nast Traveller item I mentioned). I forgot to ask about his collection of menus. Doh!

Hulstone, who grew up locally and was Roux Scholar in 2003, is the only British chef to win gold at the World Chef Championships in France, and was a head chef at just 22. He seems to be enjoying being in Torquay. "When I first started here", he told us, "I asked why I got my fish deliveries at lunchtime, when at my old place they'd be there at 6.30 in the morning. Ah well, they told me - you get today's fish."

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to add a little info to this thread...

I ate at a cafe on the beach at Blackpool Sands last week - Venus cafe I think it was called. They bbq meat and fish. Most food locally sourced. Had a really good steak and lobster surf n turf. Basic stuff, served with small salad and fries and a garlic butter.

Awesome location, with the glass wall facing the beach folded back.

I would return.

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