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Gidleigh Park


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15/10/03

Gidleigh Park is in a wonderful location but this is really dining for the rich territory because of the high price of the rooms and the food. We chose to stay in a B&B in Chagford an take a taxi to the restaurant. If your going to go make sure you book the car in advance – there is only one taxi Chagford!

The dining room is small and on the night we visited full of what I presume to be hotel guests who were suited and booted and ate there in a reverential silence – something that puts me off.

We chose the tasting menu at £75 per person for 8 courses, the a la carte is £70 per person.

A small cup of Jerusalem artichoke and truffle soup was a pleasant starter, slightly peppery and velvety smooth. Ballotine of foie gras wth girolle mushrooms and soused beetroot with honey, five spice and balsamic vinegar was suitably rich and wonderfully balanced – very good.

Braised Turbot and Scallops with leeks, wild mushrooms an chive butter sauce was again very good, I would have preferred to see the scallops left whole instead of being chopped, the butter sauce was not overpowered by the chives and the Turbot was cooked to perfection showing the fish of to its best. Normally I think Turbot is overrated but when cooked perfectly it stands up well.

Roast Local lamb with tomato fondue, fondant potato and onion puree, with a tapenade jus and rosemary oil was very pretty, two small discs of lamb either side of a disc o buttery fondant potato. The dish was fne, well executed, perfectly cooked but I could have kicked myself for ordering the set menu. I would have preferred something a little more adventurous. This is standard fare in Restaurants across the country and although prepared beter than most of them does not show much imagination for a 2 star kitchen.

I chose a good Roquefort, average Montgomery Cheddar and disappoint Epoisses.

A miniature palette of sorbets was a nice cleanser, unfortunately I can’t remember the flavours.

A duo of Chocolate; dark chocolate mousse on a chocolate sable biscuit an white chocolate ice cream was a good finish to a good if unadventurous meal that lacked the WOW factor to gain a third star.

Service was knowledgeable, the waiters knew the answers to my questions about preparation without reference to the kitchen, the wine waiter chose a great bottle of Lynch Bages 1997 at £50. I’m no expert on wine but the list seemed to be excellent value for money, something Gidleigh Park are very proud off.

Overall the meal was very nice but lacking the WOW factor to gain that 3rd star, I now wish I had ordered a la carte. It a shame that the rest of the room wasn’t a little more vocal, I swear 2 couples didn’t speak a word to each other throughout the meal – more

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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the a la carte is £70 per person.

Sorry to lower the tone, but 70 quid!! A fiver more than Ramsay. How can they possibly justify that? That's also £26 more than Le Champignon Sauvage and £21.00 more than Pied a Terre, both of which are 2 star establishments the same as Gidleigh. I bet that taxi wasn't cheap either!

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  • 11 months later...
Anyone been recently? I'm thinking of a sneaky lunch there soonish - Nov.

Sneaky in that anyone could join in. As opposed to a dirty lunch, you see. :wink:

And why can't anyone join you in a dirty lunch? Wouldn't that make it that much dirtier?

How might one get there, from London, by train...or would that just be asking for punishment?

Edited by magnolia (log)
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Thanks for the post – it neatly reflected my (one) experience at Gidleigh in March this year – delightful setting and very enjoyable food – indeed a great day all round - but, as you say, that ‘wow !’ factor proved elusive. Except when the bill arrived, of course.

However, if you’re in the area you might also want to check out 22 Mill Street in Chagford – the following post refers. Mill Street

Oh and a tenner for the taxi sounds more than reasonable. Gidleigh may be only a couple of miles from Chagford as the crow flies, but it feels like a good afternoon’s drive once you add in all the bumps and bends !

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And why can't anyone join you in a dirty lunch? Wouldn't that make it that much dirtier?

How might one get there, from London, by train...or would that just be asking for punishment?

I'm all for dirty in its various hues, but for god's sake by PM, not on the UK forum, dear.

Exeter by train is from Paddington or Waterloo - both direct - and Paddington usually quicker, but worth a check. 2 hours at least, then by taxi/car to Gildleigh Park.

Miles. But worth it.

****Thinks: 'We could always do the Royal Clarence in Exeter instead....but I fancy Country House Grandeur, particularly daytime.'****

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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  • 3 months later...

I went there end November and decided to stay in the hotel for the night. Reception is very welcoming. The room we had was decorated in a flourish style and spacious with a beautiful view on the park. Because they only have twelve rooms, the waiters remember quickly who the customers are and you can forget about all the little bills (lunch, tea, etc.) and other such details which tend to pollute a stay by bringing you back too frequently to the harsh reality. Well you do get the total at the very end though. Not cheap for sure!

The overall atmosphere is very relaxing and quiet and the customers seem to be mainly young couple coming for a romantic week-end in the Dartmoor National Park or elderly people.

We had a light lunch in one of the lounges. Despite the rather informal setting, the service was fully attentive and we got all the tableware we would have had in a dining room. I had a Jerusalem artichoke soup with some bread. Bread was terrific: nice crust, light ‘mie’ and warm. Soup really good.

Thankfully for dinner we were sitting in a room where a party had booked a large table. This created a bit of animation in the otherwise glacially quiet dining room (couple whispering so other tables cannot hear).

Service was attentive and the sommelier very helpful at recommending suitable wines by the glass for our courses. Now, I must say I’m not a great wine expert so he could have brought anything and given any wonderful description this would have been probably just the same to me – I like or I dislike that’s it :-( As for water they offer still or sparkling water from their spring.

Anyway. Food. I had not had foie gras for a while and decided to try the millefeuille of foie gras. Imagine layer of turnip, toped with seared liver, toped apple, toped etc. you get the idea. This small lukewarm tower was surrounded by some meat glaze and baby onions and mushroom. I don’t remember the exact details because my main focus was the liver: homeopathic taste of foie gras and grainy texture similar to calf liver. Very disappointing indeed.

I had asked for a small extra course of turbot. Beautifully cooked (medium, still firm). Serve with beans (peeled) and other little balls of veg. Classic.

For the main I got some venison. Extremely tender. Server with cabbage, pork belly, chestnut purée and other standard garnishes. Nice jus. Very good.

Cheese trolley had about twenty cheeses. Mostly British. Waiter was knowledgeable but really had a problem with cutting or spooning them (not enough space and did not really know where to put the dirty cutlery). He was new I think.

Dessert: none of the dessert really appealed to me. Usual apple tart, trio of chocolate, crème brulée, etc.

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  • 6 years later...

Stopped for lunch at Gidleigh Park on the way to a few days in Cornwall.

Having eaten in Michael Caines restaurants in Abode Chester and Manchester and been impressed, we decided, as we were almost passing, to give Gidleigh Park a try.

We ate from the lunch menu:

Canapés were Foie gras with apricot and almond and a dish of tiny mushrooms as a fricassee.

A trio of good breads and butter.

Amuse was a generous dish of asparagus soup with sweetbreads and asparagus.

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Starters we ordered Chicken terrine with truffle mayonnaise, hazelnuts and salad leaves.

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Salmon rillette with soy honey dressing, wasabi and a scattering of baby leaves.

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For mains we opted for new season Devon lamb crusted with olives and served with fondant potato stuffed with tiny diced vegetables, roast garlic and baby onion.

P1040597 (1).JPG

The second main course was Cornish cod with roasted cauliflower, spinach, lemon thyme puree and cumin in the form of powder and a frothy sauce.

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We passed on dessert, opting instead for coffee and petit fours. Petit fours comprised of a mixed fruit donut with a little custard, a pyramid of apricot parfait and a chocolate brownie with a little chocolate ice cream.

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It was more or less exactly what we expected. Everything from the tiny mushrooms to the custardy donut was done well. Service was very good, lots of staff but not too stiff.

Pricewise it is a little expensive; two courses come in at £37, the signature menu is £120. Wines range from £9 a glass upwards, bottles from about £25; we took a half bottle of Californian Viognier at £19.

Martin

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15/10/03

Roast Local lamb with tomato fondue, fondant potato and onion puree, with a tapenade jus and rosemary oil was very pretty, two small discs of lamb either side of a disc o buttery fondant potato. The dish was fne, well executed, perfectly cooked but I could have kicked myself for ordering the set menu. I would have preferred something a little more adventurous. This is standard fare in Restaurants across the country and although prepared beter than most of them does not show much imagination for a 2 star kitchen.

For mains we opted for new season Devon lamb crusted with olives and served with fondant potato stuffed with tiny diced vegetables, roast garlic and baby onion.

P1040597 (1).JPG

I may be being a little unfair in singling out Gidleigh park for this, but it was unimaginitive back in 2003 and it remains so today, dozens of decent restaurants are still serving combinations like this (especially when it comes to lamb dishes). Sure it is slightly different to 8 years ago but can't they think of an entirely different preparation? If it didn't win them 3 stars then, I'm not sure why it would now.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I always thought stars were awarded for execution and consistency, whatever the style and nature of cuisine. Just because something it based around a more traditional approach doesn't mean it's any less worthy. I personally think those pics look rather good.

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Consistency in quality yes, but surely not consistently serving up the same dishes? Fair enough if you've already won your 3rd star and you're happy to put your head down and retain it year in year out but if you really have ambitions to gain the 3rd star then I think he needs to be a little more adventurous. I've got no problem with the way the dish looks.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Matthew, unless it's obvious things just don't work then retaining dishes, signature or otherwise, simply isn't a factor. Look at the likes of L'Amboise, Ducasse, Gavroche and many more. All recycle tried and tested recipes according to season. We're back to this debate of trailblazing gastro-fireworks vs a more traditional approach. I guess it comes down to what your subjective preference is at the end of the day.

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FWIW I love traditional cooking, my point was that if the dishes aren't winning him 3 stars now it is unlikely to unless he changes something. L'ambroisie and Ducasse already have 3 stars - why do they need to change anything? On the other hand Gavroche and Gidleigh Park aren't changing and nor is their rating - go figure! Maybe they don't want 3 stars, in which case that's fine.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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The big question is what are you looking for? Do you want classic cuisine or do you prefer the modern presentation of at least half a dozen elements on the plate which often don't gel.

We went to the Waterside for lunch last week, warm sunny day by the river, fantastic venue, great service, impeccably presented food perfectly cooked, wonderful BUT boring. OK we had the set lunch, as you say Matthew to get anything different we should have gone à la carte but it wasn’t a special occasion, we joined some American friends on a stop over, so I think £150 for lunch is enough. I had lamb and Mr B had halibut but why couldn’t they be a little more adventurous?

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We stayed at Gidley for a special occasion a while back, Michael was in the kitchen at the time and the dinner was superb - we are still talking about it. Just because a menu is traditional it doesn’t have to be boring. Marco was the classic example of that he was always a traditionalist but with a modern twist.

Have a look at the food at the bottom of this link:

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Is this what you are looking for when you dine out? Some of it reminds me of what my kids used to produce when they were small - playing with food, we used to call it ‘doing a Mossimann’, but it was never as way out as some of these.

In this type of menu there are some elements of the dishes that are good - at the Fat Duck, HB’s salmon with liquorice is a great combination but some combinations are nonsense.

Texture plays as large a part in a good dish as flavour combinations, something that is often forgotten. I find eating out very disappointing these days.

The last set light lunch that I had that was worth raving about was last year at The Old Mill at Shipston on Stour. The main course ticked all the boxes, good well thought out flavour combinations, different textures and appealing to the eye and it was only a beef salad!

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Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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