Tonights restaurant visit is to 22 Mill Street located in the small town of Chagford. One thing which amazes me about some locations is how they seem to attract high value and good quality restaurants, for example “Bray” the location of such places as “The Fat Duck” and the “Waterside Inn (Soon to be visited)” not mentioning the other 1 or 2 well known restaurants. Chagford it seems is no exception being home to the very well known “Gidliegh Park” home of Michael Caine’s Michelin star restaurant, which amazes me how such a small village houses both of these amazing places, where some local town of “Newton Abbot” etc have no real spectacular places to mention.
The restaurant is located just off the main village square, and Unfortunately as I found out has no dedicated parking and the village is not luckily enough to have plentiful local parking, however a 5 minute walk away is a small car park. Women should note though that the walk to this car park is not something that should be braved in heels.
Upon entering you are greeted by the lovely “Chantel”, who is the head of front of house, and on this quiet Tuesday night was also the only waitress having only 2 other tables booked. “Chantel” is also the partner of head chef “Dave”, to me this is a great partnership of front of house and kitchen.
After introductions and greetings you are invited into a small lounge area to sit and relax, drink and view the menu. Having previously spoken to Chantel over the phone I already knew the tasting menu would be my immediate selection. After this myself and dinner partner (mother…. Being single sometimes one needs company, and beggars cannot be choosers) were shown to our seats in a lovely bright eating area with around 8 tables housing about 18-20 seats. This was a quiet evening with only 1 couple currently dining, this however was great as it allowed me to chat with Chantel and discuss the food.
Immediately after being seated a small Amuse Bouche was brought over of “Parsnip Crisps & Parmesan Disk”, being not the greatest lover of parsnip I was not sure how I would find these, however I was surprised as these were lovely. They were lightly spiced and light as a feather, I only wished I could have hid these from the person sat next to me… The parmesan disk again was very light and strong flavored and reminded me of cheese and toast I used to eat as a child especially the very crisp edge bits with that slight burnt cheese flavour.
The bread was then delivered which was a selection of fresh White loaf and a tomato brown loaf, both of these being served warm. These were fantastic with my favourite being the wholemeal tomato bread, the accompanying salted butter was also good being very creamy but surprisingly mild in flavour. The dips/pastes as well were also well done, and were nice to be served along with the butter for a good choice.
The second Amuse Bouche was then delivered of Cauliflower soup with truffle, this was so fantastic I can’t even begin to describe, and extremely rich. Using the delicate spoon to slowly and carefully sip the soup it was great, however the large bit of brown loaf was just calling to be dipped into the small pot. Now being in a fine dining restaurant I was resisting the urge to “dunk”, however Chantel came over and encouraged me to “enjoy the food how you want to enjoy it”, which to me is how it should be and I proceeded to “dunk”…. I was in heaven.
When the dish was presented I was immediately impressed by the presentation, the small leaves used to dress the glass plate with the smears of sauces showed things off well. I was very surprised to find the “Crisp Pig’s Ear” rested on top of the dish, as this was not stated on the menu, however I did find this was not crisp and the outside cracking was very soft and extremely chewy, however the taste was superb. Moving onto the Pork Cheek, this was the most tender piece of meat with the most intense flavour I have sampled in a while, with the meat just melting in the mouth and the cider really punching in your mouth. The Ham Croquette, was also very good however with the sauce been poured over this, the crisp exterior had now been replaced with a slight soggy bread crumb effect. Overall the dish blended well with the textures and flavours all resulting in a very good dish, and a extremely good start to the main event.
The dish had the most striking yellow colour, which would impress anyone on first glance. The fish which was cooked to perfection just fell apart, which showed the risotto placed underneath, this was executed well however I found the Chorizo overpowered the delicate flavour of the fish and was too pronounced on the tongue.
Having requested my Beef “Rare” I was pleased to see this was cooked as I requested, however my Mother’s beef which was requested medium was still slightly under for what I class as medium, this is down to personal interpretation though. I was surprised to find Barley placed under the beef blade which is a rarity to see on todays plates, and provided the starch element of the dish, this was a good surprise and proved to be one of the most well executed part of the dish. The shallot puree however I found extremely salty, which then continued to overpower even the most dominant of flavours of the beef etc.
Selection Of Cheeses – Sharpham Brie, Exmoor Blue, Godminster Cheddar, Vulscombe Goats Cheese, Charwood Smoked
Unfortunately I will point out that I am not the greatest cheese lover and if a cheese course is optional I will normally avoid, this could be due to the fact I am unsure how to taste cheese and find the flavours all to dominating, which reminds me to try and find a cheese tasting master class. The board was well presented on a wooden block, with home made oakcakes which were truly amazing and crisp, fresh grapes, and small squares of the above cheese. I tried all the cheeses on offer and did enjoy this as much as any cheese reluctant person can, however upon trying the Exmoor Blue this tipped me over the edge with the burning in the throat sensation still strong in my memory and I called the cheese course a day there.
This was one of the main disses I was looking forward to, being a desert lover. The Crème Caramel had a subtle flavour of rum which personally I think this could be given an added “Umph” to try and show what this flavour really can do. The banana was slightly disappointing as this was quite undercooked, and only had the most slight hint of caramelisation. Now being a very big kid at heart the crisp doughnut was saved until last, I was extremely happy I took this approach as this was fabulous, not greasy at all, very dry but still ever so slightly moist inside.
Clotted Cream, Amaretto Affogato
Now due to the way this dish is served (Hot Amaretto Coffee poured over Ice Cream) I was too excited and also concerned about the ice cream loosing all structural stability to wait and grab the camera. This dish however was brilliant with Chantel, pouring on the hot coffee at the table and leaving the coffee/amaretto filled jug on the table to allow for additional topping up of hot coffee. I was amazed how well the clotted cream ice cream was done, with the rich and deep flavour being very pronounced and was a brilliant and light ending to a very large meal.
Coffee was then ordered and a brilliantly hot black coffee was served and this was enjoyed, however I was slightly disappointed as no petit fours were served. This is myself being greedy as my belt was bursting, however I always think its nice to be served something small even if only to request for it to be taken home to be enjoyed the next day and continue the fabulous dining experience.
Overall – 8/10
An extremely good meal was had at 22 Mill Street, made even better by the wonderful front of house team of Chantel (Only). It concerns me slightly that if all of a sudden many off street diners did decide to come and dine that evening and Chantel being the only server, things could get slightly out of hand, but im sure a plan is in place to allow for this. The food was carried out well, with only some small down falls and with only such small down points there would be not worth mentioning to most, however I do feel the biggest let down for myself was the Crème Caramel which I believe does still need some work.
The Bill came to a total of £128.64 which for 2No. taster menus, 2 Coffees, 2 Large bottles of water I think is very good value.
Cant wait to return and sample the new November Menu, and look forward to seeing Chantel and hopefully meet the chef Dave on my return.