Category Archives: Food

The New Angel ( Angélique ), Dartmouth – Restaurant Review (Update Jan 2011)

Update – January 2011 – The restaurant has now been fully re-opened under the new name of “Angelique”.  When I visited in October this was under the new management/head chef of the “8 in 10 Group” and under its “Soft Launch”.  Due to this I have updated the name in the title to reflect the visit, as of the time of dining it was under the new management/chefs and still applies.

Well after not hearing about the well known chef “John Burton Race” leaving his pet restaurant “The New Angel” located in Dartmouth to concentrate on his TV career. I was surprised when logging on to the restaurants website to find that it had now been closed for some time and had now re-opened under the “10 in 8 Group”, it had also a title of “Michelin dining on a budget” with a tasting menu of 7 courses for £49, having seen the online sample menu I was impressed and decided to book a table.

Having booked the table for 7pm and running slightly early I decided to enter at around 6:50pm, the front of the restaurant is very open with large clear windows for outsiders and diners to get a clear view of everything. When entering we (mother and me… Note must find foodie friends) were greeted by the head of front house, who was smartly dressed and seemed pleasant and was a rarity to find someone English of Origen, as front of house considering the style of restaurant. With our coats taken we were shown to our table and drinks order immediately taken. The front of house proceeded to give us the set tasting menus and having already asked for this over the phone previously he knew this is what I wanted. However out of curiosity I enquired about the “a la carte” menu, to this I was fed a large speech. The speech basically explained how the taster menu is the only current menu and if you did want it you must choose 3 courses from it, this is because when the restaurant opened they struggled with the different  menus so have gone down this route for now. I’ll leave people to make their own views of this, as personally I think a restaurant should offer more than desert etc.

An amuse Bouche of crisp whitebait and a salsa-Verdi was then served, this was a nice light bite, with the crisp fish having a good fresh taste. However the salsa-Verdi was very underpowered with little flavour even when sampled solo.

Half way through sampling the above dish, butter was also presented on the table. At this point I’ll point out the main down fall of this restaurant which is the service but I’ll do a full report later below, but this is a small sample. I asked the foreign waiter who I believe was French from his accent if the butter was made “In House” or local? The response I got is as follows…. “(large laugh) the butter? Ofcourse not! (confused and slightly aggressive look on his face)”. Now I was slightly confused by this and not sure if he was just trying to be clever or not, so asked again where he then confirmed it Is not. More on service later.

With plates now removed, a bowl of warm home made bread was presented. This consisted on 2 White hard crusted rolls and 2 fennel flavored thick slices, the white bread was good to cut with a nice dry and crisp exterior, however the interior bread was undercooked with this being very chewy and having no bounce or spring to touch. The wholemeal slices however were very good with good aniseed flavours. I will refuse to comment on the butter here as for all I know this could be Lurpak, with some shards of sea salt scattered on top.

In between picking up my first roll our second amuse Bouche was placed before us of a “Wild Mushroom Foam”. This was very good and light with the entire cup being made of foam and not half with a pool of liquid on the bottom. This tasted exactly how it should, plain mushroom and nothing special here.

Crab salad, lemongrass jelly,Mango puree & tempura of soft shell crab.

Now from reading this I noticed that some strong flavours were on the plate only to be further surprised when presented with the dish that the crab was dressed with a wasabi dressing and also had a fennel salad. Firstly the plate did look great with the small dots all working well and adding colour. When tasting the dish however my happy thoughts of how it looked quickly disappeared, my initial worries were confirmed with the amount of flavours trying to fight each other was just too much. The fennel immediately overpowered the lemon grass jelly and the wasabi just destroyed the crab to the point it could have been any protein and I would have not known. However the individual flavours were good, but this was in essence a poorly designed dish. The tempura soft crab however was brilliantly crisp and strong flavoured.

Ballotine of smoke ham & foie gras, Butternut squash chutney & potato crisp.

This dish I was really looking forward to as anything with foie gras in I’m a big fan of being a particular favourite of mine, although when reading through the menu i was again slightly concerned with the marriage of flavours. Again these worries came true here, due to the ham being smoked the flavour was just so intense that if there was any foie gras the flavour could not be found which was a major disappointed. Overall the taste was pleasant, and If the menu had not stated frai gras I would have enjoyed this more, not having to look for that flavour.  The ham was strong flavoured and smokey with the mango provided the sweetness, the crisp potatoes provided a good texture and were required to add some crunch.

Pan fried scallop, Sag aloo & cauliflower carpaccio.

The dish smelled brilliant, and also was pleasing to the eye, i let a out a sigh of relief as when the waiter served this he did not add any additional elements of the dish except which was said on the menu.  The cauliflower carpaccio had a good crunch but not so much you knew the item was completely raw, and also had good flavour.  The Sag-Aloo was brilliant with the potatoes having a slight crunch, but the flavour was great and very intense.  The Scallop is one of the best i have sampled of recent, it was incredibly sweet and cooked excellent.  This was a simpler dish of what  have seen so far and was great to see and so far was the only memorable item.

For main course I choose Venison, and my Mother chose Sea Bass.

Roasted loin of venison, Spiced red cabbage, braised beetroot & peppercorn jus.

The main course of the 7 courses was then served, immediately I noticed how rare the meat was and luckily I am very happy with meat cooked in this manner, however some might not be but this was mentioned when ordering.  The Venison was cooked well and good and tender, however you just couldn’t find the flavour due to everything else on the plate, the spiced red cabbage below was something truly special with thoughts of Christmas coming to mind with the warm spices.  The beetroot was extremely good and worked well, with the starch elements and the various dots of beetroot puree were great, but why oh why….. the peppercorn jus was just not needed and just added another element again which confused and meddled with flavours and would have been better left off with a little extra beet root puree, noting the red cabbage added its own beautiful liquid texture.

Pan fried sea bass, confit fennel,Baby artichokes & liquorice sauce

My mum rated this a 6/10, she loved the liquorice taste but this was not that strong.  The fish was cooked brilliant with a great crisp skin but let down with the partnership of the vegetables.

Apple and Blackberry Compot, with White Chocolate Foam and Lime Crumble

The moose was extremely light and had an extremely mild taste so much you could hardly tell it was there, the crumble placed atop of this might as well been left off as this was practically tasteless and provided no addition to the dish. The major let down of this was the compot in the base which was so full of blackberry seeds and so chilled my mother asked “Is this just for looks or can you eat it”, after calming from that amusing comment, I proceeded to taste and it was true it was solid, the taste was there however it was just to chewy to eat and more like a large placement of seeds at the bottom.

Sticky Ginger Cake, Ginger Pannacotta & Carrot Sorbot

Safe to say this was the star of the meal, i have never eaten such a lovely sticky, moist and light cake before this night, it was brilliant with strong stem ginger shining through, only could be made better served slightly warm.  However the Ginger Pannacotta was no where to be seen, and was not worth mentioning on the menu.  The Carrot sorbet was good but i feel a more strong flavour to compliment the ginger would have worked better such as a good Clotted Cream ice cream or something else with very rich/deep flavour.

At this time coffee and petite fours were served, coffee priced at an extremely high cost of £4 each for a straight black coffee which I feel is extreme.  The petit fours were coconut ice which was very good and not to sweet and served chilled, the other was a Vanilla Fudge which was melt in the mouth and again very good.

Total Bill was £123.50, with 2No. tasting menus, 2No. Coffees, 1No. Water and a 12.5% discretionary service charge which if this was by choice I would have not paid, more on this below.

Overall – Im going to split this into food and service.

Food – 6/10.  The food here shows alot of promise and the presentation of the plate is certainly high up there with the best, however I get the feeling that everything is just trying very hard to impress with more and more flavours hitting the plate it just becomes too much.  I think the head chef needs to try and reign back his ingredients slightly and maybe try to have 1 dish on the tasting menu which he can experiment with.  The food was all well cooked and good quality but seemed just to not all merge together at all.

Service – 4/10.  Service here is where the restaurant completely fails, and here are some example of things experienced on this evening.

Waiters/Waitress – While not serving this would just be standing, and Hovering and staring waiting eagerly for your next move, it was just too much and not needed you felt almost rushed to finished to give them something to do.

Clearing of Plates – This is something we experienced on every course, we would put the last fork full in our mouth and while still chewing we placed our forks on our plates, by this time the waiter was there taking them so quickly, we could not even thank him because we still had our mouth’s full of food….. They need to slow up and take some time.  This is not a fast food restaurant and this is not needed.

Food Speed of Service – Due to the fact the head chef is based in the dining room he is constantly watching the diners and awaiting for the next dish, which then causes him to race it seems.  So you experience the speed of light clearing of plates, then by sooner than you have finished your mouth full, your next course is sat in front of you!.  This is demonstrated by the fact we finished the entire 7 course tasting menu with the various additional samples, in under 75minutes!!!, are they turning tables or something here? as the restaurant was only half full and not needed.

Due to the above do please make the service charge optional and not automatically added as its going to be questioned very soon.

Overall Score – 5/10.  Food quality good but needs work.  Service a complete failure.

I will try this restaurant again in a few months and maybe by then the service might have been sorted out.  I am also very curious to see if “The New Angel” can retain its Michelin star in the future as with that service I am doubtful.

Matt’s Baking – White Chocolate & Banana Blondies

Tonight being friday and being the sad Foodie I am decided to do a small spot of baking, being a particular interest of mine.

I decided to try something abit different from the usual Brownie and being a great fan of White chocolate decided to hit the Blondie devision of my cook books and found the below recipe.

White Chocolate & Banana Blondies

Ingredients

  1. 250g golden caster sugar
  2. 100g butter
  3. 100g caramel , from a jar or tin (Nestlé Carnation Caramel works well) plus 2 tbsp for the top
  4. 100g white chocolate
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 200g self-raising flour
  7. 2 ripe bananas , sliced

Method

  1. Heat the oven 180C/fan 170C/gas 4. Melt the sugar, butter, caramel and chocolate together until smooth. Cool a little, then add the eggs and fold in the flour and banana.
  2. Pour into a lined 20cm square tin and add a few blobs of caramel to the top, bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and set.

Well this all looked extremely simple, having decided that these will just be an extremely sweet treat decided to leave my Hotel Chocolat white chocolate with vanilla on the side, and choose the wonderful and old faithful Nestle Milky Bar.  (If its good enough for the Milkybar kid, its good enough for me)  Having an abundance of what seems lower quality chocolate when compared to the likes of Hotel Chocolat etc its always a good way to use the likes of Milka and Nestle.

Having only taken 15minutes to melt down and prepare, the tin was quickly filled and entered the oven, now only the long long wait approach.  At this time I was getting excited as its dinner time and they could be ready to coincide with dessert perfect.  The only thing better than white chocolate blondies, Warm white chocolate blondies.

My hopes soon become true as my dinner is finished and lay before is the this:

They were incredible crispy on the top with a lovely crust, however the insides were very goey and moist.  Excellent.

Only downside being that the white chocolate didn’t really come through at all and i couldn’t tell it was in the mixture, next time im going to try and use Chocolate chips instead and maybe apricots.

La Petite Maison,Topsham (Exeter) – Devon

This is my third visit to this lovely little restaurant located in the small area of Topsham, being my third visit this review will be a combination of all my visits.  On first glance walking past this restaurant in the main busy street of Topsham you could easily mistake it for a large town house, very minimalist signs locate you to the main entrance.  Once inside you are immediately in the main dining area with a small corridor in front of you leading into the kitchen, and 2 small lounges to the left and right with tables and chairs.  The restaurant seats about a maximum of 26 and inside is cleanly decorated with white walls and small warm lighting placed throughout.  Tonight I am also dining with my family of Mother and Father.

You are greeted by front of house “Sara” who is brilliant and very welcoming, from there your coats are taken and you are shown to your table.  The tables are dressed in clean white clothes with nice silverware, and a small pot of green olives in the centre.  Once seated and drink orders taken, menus were handed out.  The menus are printed on standard A4 paper and are clean with around 4-5 selections for each course.  La Petite Maison only offer a set menu with the choice of 2 Courses @ £29,95 and 3 Courses @ £35.95, both come with bread to start and coffee/tea and petite fours.  I do like how this works as it makes the menu look clean with only 2 simple price schemes, and the cost conscious of us are pleased due to they can select any dish of their fancy without having to worry about the cost as its set.

The menus are printed on simple A4 paper due to the fact the menu changes every day and this is due to what produce comes in on that day, this is great and I admire restaurants who do this as it shows their ability to adapt and change with the seasons, and proves the chef cares about local produce.

On this occasion I was immediately drawn to the Seared Pigeon Breast with Bacon, Foie Gras on toasted bread.  Bread was then served on the table which comes in the form of a home made cheese straw, white hard crusted roll and a wholemeal soft roll.  This was served in a small basket and was 1 item each for each person.  The bread is well made and is all done in house, with the cheese draw being very light with a strong cheese flavour.  However the accompanying butter is a let down and does not have a strong taste at all, im not sure if this is home made or not.

Within only 20mins my starter was served, my initial impression was shock at the shear size of the Foie Gras, used to the very minute portions served at previous restaurants.  This had such an amazing taste and flavour its hard to pin point the exact reason for this, if it was the quality, cooking process or just the combination of the jus etc, the toast added a pleasurable difference in texture but this was unfortunately not crisp and had a slightly soggy bread element.  The Pigeon was well cooked and served rare, myself being a fan of meat being cooked like this, however I can see someone else could find this a problem, I did however find that this lacked a great deal of flavour, and really did need the added Foie Gras and bacon to really provide the flavour elements.  The small crisp salad was a needed light element to the powerful and heavy Fois Gras.

My main dish of Roast Duck Breast, Confit of Duck, dauphinoise potatoes, Apple and Summer Greens, arrived only moments later.  I requested my duck to be served Rare and this was perfectly presented as you can see from the photos, the whole dish was presented well.  The apples provided a nice sweet element to the duck and help cut through the fatty duck taste at times, although the duck was very lean by all accounts, however I would have liked the apple ever so slightly more cooked as a crunch was present.  The dauphinoise potatoes were good, but I found it lacked some cheese intensity although plenty of good buttery flavours exploded within the mouth. The confit of duck was brilliant with the crispy skin provided great flavour and the meat just falling from the bone.  The service at this time also needs to be mentioned with Sara in constant eyes views just asking if everything is ok and constantly topping up of drinks, but without her presence being to much.

My mother at this time at Fillet Steak with Sliced Potatoes, Summer Greens, with Caramilised Red Onion and Bacon.  This rated this 10/10 with the Steak being a perfect medium and the asparagus being lovely and still having a slight bite.

Now onto the favorite part of the meal…. Desserts.  Having chosen the Warm Apricot and Almond Tart with Mascarpone Ice Cream, I couldn’t wait to see this as it sounded wonderful.  15 minutes later the dessert arrived and I was not disappointed with a very good portioned size slice of tart, with a large spoon of the ice cream placed on top which at this point had just started to melt from the heat of the warm tart.  The accompanying apricot sauce was a great side and worked well.  The tart itself was very light with a good crisp base of pastry which was sweet but not over powering, the sponge was quite light with large whole and half apricots spread along the base, and a thin layer of preserve in there also.  The Ice Cream was great and a good rich taste to go with the light tart.

My Father had the Lemon Posset, he rated this 8/10, it was extremely light and not sour at all to the point where abit of tang could have been quite a good addition.  This was also a good size portion.

My Mother had the Plate of Rhubarb, the Crumble was great with a good crispy topping and a tartie rhubarb base to it.  The shot of Rhubarb to me was extremely tart and to much for me, however my mum being a love of all things Rhubarb was an immediate lover.  The great ginger ice cream mysteriously found half of its portion on my plate, now how did that happen?, this was great with whole pieces of crystalised ginger placed throughout.  9/10.

Coffee was then served and was good quality, with some home made chocolate truffles also being placed on the table.  These were deep, dark and rich and having just been removed from the fridge you only needed to touch them for the slightly moment to have a runny stream of chocolate pour down your hand.  Very good chocolates indeed.

Overall as mentioned before this was my third visit to La Petite Maison, and im going to give a score of –

9/10

The food is presented well with it not being to fancy or complicated, but still provided the visual shock of a very good plate of food.  The front of house are great and the food is quick and speedy throughout with the food being great value for money.

Will defiantly be coming back for more.

22 Mill Street, Chagford – Devon

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.

Cider Glazed Pork Cheek, Ham Croquette, Greengage, Tarragon

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.

Cornish Turbot, Saffron, Chorizo, Risotto, Basil, Bouillabaisse Nage

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.

Dartmoor Beef Fillet, Slow Cooked Blade, Wood Mushroom, Crisp Shallot

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.

Plantation Rum Crème Caramel, Caramelised Banana, Cinnamon Doughnuts

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.

Hanburys Fish & Chips Restaurant – Torquay

Visited the above restaurant on the 27th September with a table booked at 7:30 for a party of 5 of us. This restaurant also has a take away which is beside the main entrance and this has won many awards for its “Famous” fish and chips in Torquay and has even won country wide recognition.  However the establishment has not entered any of the competitions in recent years.

Upon walking into the restaurant you are immediately put into the main walk way of waitresses and guests, after walking down past several diners you then arrive at the main counter.  After stating my name etc we were shown to our table which was by the window and looked out onto the main road and was certainly good for people watching.  The inside is decorated in a Nautical theme with small boats, sea gulls, large wooden models and even a life size boat steering wheel on the ceiling, this however I found was dulled by the use of tacky fairy/Xmas lights dotted around the place.

The staff here were very polite and seemed to carry out their job well and took our orders etc.  The menu was filled with what you would expect from a “fish and chip” restaurant. However there was some oddities here such as the “fresh bread with oils”, which i would have expected to find in a italian and not in the local chip shop.  Seeing this i decided to place an order, only to regret this later as i was presented with nothing more than a /Sainsburys part baked roll which was then cooked in the oven…… if the item is not fresh please do not state it is on the menu.

Around 20minutes later my main course was then served of Haddock, topped with smoked salmon with a cheese sauce. Hoping this option would be where the restaurant shined, however this was extremely overcooked with the plate full of water still from the poaching pot, and the cheese sauce was safe to say packet…..  The chips were good with a nice taste, however these were no where near as crisp as i was expecting and i was hoping for something special.  I un-eagerly picked away at my dish until i got towards the centre of the fish was was just very too chewy and bland to go any further.  I then called it a day, now this is a variety for myself to leave food…

My fellow diners who had “Traditional Fish and Chips” however did enjoy their meals and found the fish to be good quality with not a greasy outer batter.

Need to point out though the provided Ketchup Sachets are brilliant and alot better than the usual flat hard to squeeze out types.  (You know what they say, simple things, simple minds)

Now moving on I have to put down my biggest disappointment i found was that it seem when you placed your order, the order was then passed through to the take away next door and then cooked like any other standard takeaway order.  This i can understand and almost expect from a fish & chip shop restaurant, however i was then surprised…..

I kept seeing waitresses carrying large boxes from the counter to the kitchen and going backwards and forwards after a while watching this I found this was the food from the Takeaway, which to my surprise was food boxed up for a takeaway (traditional cardboard box/Paper).  The waitress then took this box to the side of the restaurant, lined up plates (cold), and then proceeded to tip/unbag the food onto the plates for the diners, this also involved “chucking” the mushy peas out of pots into serving bowls etc etc. I found this whole setup extremely disappointing, if i am paying £9 for fish and chips i do not expect it to be in take away boxes to then have a waitress serve it up how my mother would at home, also the clanging of plates and forks etc as waitresses attempted to dish up is unnerving.

The waitresses also did not use/ware gloves whilst carrying out this operation of “plating up”, this is a slight concern from myself as these girls have been  handing money, used plates from other guests, etc.  I do think if this operation  has to take place in this manor the girls could at least put on some latex gloves to plate the food.

Overall – 3/10

Overall very disappointed. For 5 eaters the bill was well over £140.00 with drinks and meals etc (Bread Starters / No desserts).

Angels Tea Room – Torquay

This is a post which I wrote actually back in summer but never actually got around to writing it up and checking it over so thought I would finally get around to it.

This was a lovely July afternoon which was surprisingly warm for our ever getting colder summers….  I decided to treat my Granddad to lunch.

Angels is located on Babbacombe Down’s in Torquay, and is set between a 2 local pubs and various other tea rooms etc.  The main difference between this establishment and the others is this one is constantly full, and I mean full.  if you do not have a table booked you will be very lucky to just walk in and grab one, this place wether is be winter or summer is normally fully booked.  i have been eating here for just over a year and try and get here every few weeks/months for a spot of the old fashioned “Afternoon Tea”.

The exterior of the building is clean with the doors and windows frames painted in a fresh bright blue and looks inviting.  There is a small garden in front of the main building which houses several tables for the outside eaters (Brave people).

Upon entering and the ringing of the wind chimes which start chiming as you open the door you find a small room around the size of a large lounge with about 10 tables.  This is all decorated lovely with small “nik naks” and the interior theme is definitively “Angels” with more naked babies, and harps than you need to see in a life time, this all helps add to the theme however.  The counter at the back of the room has various coffee machines and a fresh orange juicer, also there are several cake stands full of fresh home made cakes.  Now these cakes are home made and HUGE!, i’m talking 3 tier Victoria Sponges with huge slices, unfortunately i did not manage to get photos of these but will be sure to get some next time.

Angels pride them selves on fresh locally source produce with all the jams being made locally, and these are also all sold in store.

Upon entering we were greeted by a young girl who ask for our reservation and then directed us to our table, the waitresses are dressed smartly and are not in uniforms which adds to the relaxed feeling.  The table is full of tea cups and various china, all mis-matched purposely, again for that feel.  You are then offered menus which are full of traditional fair, with cream teas, home made scones, and various meals and a large selection of sandwiches.  Also a small desserts was placed on the table full of todays specials, 1 side dedicated to main meals and the other to desserts.  The blackboard had more meals than the main menu, which is good and shows they change the menu often.

After 2 minutes the young girl returned to take our order, she was extremely polite and used a small computer to take our order.  The good thing about the ordering process is you can customise you order to your exact specification, my Granddad requested his “Cod and Chips” to be poached with mushrooms and onions, and this was gladly accepted and not even questioned.  This I find is always a good sign and shows the willingness of the establishment to cater to its customer.  Myself not feeling that hungry decided to go for what I though would be a “Light Lunch” ordering a Coronation Chicken Sandwich on Doorstep bread.

The waitress then took our menus and delivered our tea 2 minutes later, which is served in a small tea pot with fresh leaves and a small strainer to poor your tea through into the cup.

Our food arrived within around 20minutes and considering the tea room was packed this was a surprise as I was expecting a longer wait.  Upon my sandwich being delivered in front of me, my idea of a “light lunch” immediately disappeared…… as the huge monster sandwich lay before me.  Upon taking my first bite i was immediately surprised how packed full of flavour the coronation chicken was, which was packed full of whole fresh apple, Peaches and flacked almonds.  The side salad was a welcome light side, which had a small amount of Balsamic vinegar drizzled over.

 

 

My lunch partner also was surprIsed by the sIze of fish which consisted of 2 large fillets of cod and cooked and served exactly as requested wIth mushrooms and onIons.

I really enjoyed by lunch and consIderIng my huge sandwIch only cost £6.45, I consider thIs very good value for money.

Overal Score – 8/10

 

Apologies – Lack of Updates

Firstly I must add my apoligies for lack of updates latley, I have been visiting restaurants and have many to write up.  Unfortuanrlt I have been on holiday from 27th September until 13th October, then I was greeted to a lovely Hospital visit @Mount Stewert – Torquay, so the operation has been a small set back.

I am now on the mend though and able to type away, so over the next few days there will be a slug of backlog of reviews.  Also I have over 12 top restaurant visits planned for the coming weeks, so im going to be a busy guy with all these write ups to do.

Ode Restaurant – Shaldon – Review

This evenings restaurant review is of the quite small and quant restaurant “Ode”.  Upon arriving and first inspection looking at the front entrance, which looks more like a small town house. With large open windows with small A4 pages listing menu’s etc, and also a lovely stain glass window door the centre of the bay windows.  Just to the left hand side is the entrance and upon entering you then turn a corner and walk directly into the small eating area.

Ode is slightly different from other restaurants as the whole Eos about the place, is organic locally sourced produce, but this does not only mean about the food. This also includes the building its self, I can only guess that upon purchasing the building the owners stripped it back to basics and then filled the place with local materials/goods. A list of such local products can be found on their website site which includes things such as:

  • Tumbled kale travertine floor in restaurant – natural stone from Europe.
  • Tables made from European ash wood from sustainable sources and made locally in Prince Town, Dartmoor.
  • Sourced reclaimed timber and driftwood from salvage yards.

They are also very dedicated to providing only organically sourced produced, although I’m not a fan of the organic type food etc (I’m just not that interested in it), i am pleased to see a restaurant/chef/owner show such caring in his produce and his working environment. This shows a good first impression and I haven’t even seen the food yet!!

Table was booked for 7:45, as this was the only time slot available to me, which shows the popularity of this restaurant as i booked a week in advance.

Upon entering the restaurant i was immediately greeted by a friendly waitress and showed a table which was by the window and had a lovely view out onto the street so great for people watching. The restaurant is very small and cosy and only doing 24 covers, you can imagine has an intimate feel of good homely cooking. Unfortunately I was 15 minutes earlier than my booking however this was not a problem and the waitress was very friendly. Upon seating Claire (Head of Front of House) greeted me and she was a fabulous guide to the paper sheet printed menu.  She was very kind with guiding me through the menu and some of the most popular dishes and personal favorites, I found this wonderful and something that is really lacking in restaurants today, without having to ask.

After having made my selections some flat bread with cumin with an olive paste was served, this was a nice change to the regular bread with oils/butter and the bread. Fabulous and crisp and a real good strong flavour of cumin.

A complimentary amuse bouche was then served of sand eel’s in Japanese breadcrumbs and lemon, with a home-made tartare sauce, this was extremely tasty combined with the sauce worked well on the palette. The tartare sauce was particularly quite acidic which I am a fan of and worked well.  Also with the use of the Japanese  breadcrumbs these were not greasy and had a good dry feel.

My starter of “Salad of Lyme bay lobster and brown crab, with BBQ sauce and marinated courgette” arrived around 10 minutes after the amuse bouche was served. The style of the plating was quite modern, however with the use of the salad leaves managed to keep that home look but very sophisticated style of plating lay underneath. Upon trying the Lobster i found this to be sweet and have a lovely texture which was well cooked. The accompanying BBQ sauce was not what you have come to expect from the local pub, no thick dark brown sauces here. Instead was a lovely and mild sauce which had many different layers of flavour, however I would have liked abit of kick to the sauce and some heat to join the dish. The crab element of the dish was crab lightly bound in a dressing, which seemed to have quite a strong coriander flavour and worked well to refresh your palette, again if the BBQ sauce had a bit of kick to accompany this it would have worked even better. I did find four pieces of crab shell unfortunately while eating the dish, now some times this cannot be helped, however these were quite large but again when having crab one has to expect this some times. The dish was a very good and generous portion but this should be expected for a £13 starter.

My main course of sea bass then arrived, on first inspection I was dissipated by the portion size as this seemed rather small. However once moving the fish I found this to be a very thick cut and I was immediately impressed with the crisp skin and perfectly white rims of the cooked wish. Underneath the main star, was some various mixed vegetables of runner beans etc. This was then following by the spider crab, now having never tasted this before I was a very pleased with my menu choice, the meat was lovely and almost creamy to eat. The oil dressing provided was quite sweet and provided a nice contrast to the Quinoa mixed in within the crab meat. This turned out to be a much more filling dish than I expected and although I think the £22 price tag is quite steep this again has been caught only 2 miles away by the local line caught fishermen. So you need to expect a certain price premium for this quality and local produce.

A dessert menu was then presented to me and immediately my eyes were drawn to the chocolate cake, again Claire was fantastic and upon asking her about the chocolate % etc this was all answered from memory and quickly. The chocolate cake was made from 74% and both there dark and white chocolate come from the Uk and used Beans. However again this dish was quite an expensive example I thought upon ordering, but thought I would hold judgement until this was served. Praying that also I did not stave myself for the whole day to miss out on a lovely calorie ladened dessert. A black Americano coffee was also ordered as well.

When the desert arrived all my worries started to fade away in a chocolate coma.  It seemed how the chocolate cake took a serious back seat on this dish, and the Moose seemed to take more of the 1st place, with a large scoop curled on top of the cake.  The cake its self was very nice and moist and because the exclusion of flour, it was quite dense and seems to fall apart and break into nice little sections to eat.  The accompanying chocolate brittles again very amazing with a rich chocolate and sugar flavour, and were beautiful.  Now on to the moose which was in 2 words “Mind Blowing” the caramel flavours really did shine through this thick and dense moose, i savored every bite of this truly gorgeous element of the dish and found it to be particularly the star of the night.

My Coffee then arrived and was lovely hot and flavoursome, the accompaniments were a delightful fruit brioche which was brittle to bite but then turned into a lovely and chewy bread within the mouth.  Also the chocolate Ganache was very good and very rich and dense, however the over use of Coco powder did overpower the actual chocolate slightly.

Final thoughts:
Service – 9/10
The service here is nothing short but impressive, with your glass quickly and constantly topped up without even having to glance at a server.  The staff here are all very kind and polite and are welcoming to have a chat.  Claire was a particular star of the show whose knowledge of the food, produce and also the building was impressive.

Food – 8/10
The food tonight was a gallery of fine cooking combined with real caring of produce, the local produce and effort gone into finding such special elements really did show.  However little things i believe could have slightly been improved such as the BBQ sauce on the starter and the crab shells found at the beginning as well.  These issues aside though, the whole meal was very good with good and also new flavours being shown.

Value – 7/10
The entire meal came to a quite reasonable £52, which i was pleased with however if i was a larger group or with partner this could soon add up.  I understand the need to the premium prices due to the local produce but i think the costs could be looked at slightly to get the dishes more at even prices.  However at the end of meal talking with the owner i understand they do a “taste of the Teign” menu which is a set cost menu, but this is only served on Tuesday- Friday nights.

Overall – 8/10
A very impressive and cozy restaurant which local produce really is the main star of the show.  Anyone who decides to eat here will find welcoming staff and lovely sea food.

 

The Elephant Restaurant – Torquay

Well here we are first review of the new blog. Firstly I should add that I’ll mostly be dining alone as to be honest I do not know of any other foodie’s that are nearby, hence finding someone to join me can be difficult….

Anyways a lovely warm wednesday night at a table booked for 7pm at the “Elephant Restaurant”, this  is quite a well known restaurant with a single Michelin star to it’s name. The establishment is split between two separate floors the ground being more of a brasserie serving well known traditional dishes with a modern twist and the upstairs being the restaurant area with the Menu being full of mouses and foams etc, this is the known as the “Room Restaurant”.

Well entering the front door which is quite plainly decorated with small menus either side of the door and nicely shown signs as well. You enter the downstairs area of the building which is more of the brasserie type area which is still very nicely decorate. However when you do enter you are not greeted by a dedicated member of staff, I had to stand for a good 2-3minutes waiting for a waiter to finish serving a table to finally come to see me, I know 3 minutes does not sound a long time however this can seem like a lifetime.

Once seated I was offered both a wine menu and the full menu. Having a quick look through the menu I thought most tempting selection seemed to be the ‘tasting menu’ which was shown as:

  • Golden beetroot and Vulscobe goats’ cheese with elderflower dressing
  • Paignton crab lightly bound in chive mayonnaise with watermelon and fennel
  • Hand dived Bay scallops on cabbage and lemon risotto with mussel foam
  • Rump of Cornish lamb with summer peas, roasted artichoke and a thyme jus
  • Selection of the Westcountry’s finest artisan cheese (optional course £7.00 per person supplement)
  • Petit pot of coffee and Baileys mousse with warm chocolate foam, pistachio madelaines
  • Glazed lemon tart with creme fraiche sorbet and minted raspberries

This was priced at a what I thought was a reasonable £55.00 per person, this however do not include for Coffee or tea with petit fours @ £4.00 per person this is always an annoying thing for me, I do think the coffee should be included in the tasting menu costs as these are all part of the experience.

Well having ordered and the menu been taking away. I started to access my surrounding in slightly more detail, I did this this was very pleasant. A very nice area with a relax feeling and the view was truly stunning. Behind my seating area though was a slightly lower area which consisted of large lounge chairs which was a bar area, this was completely open through arch ways into the “The Room” which then made the calming feeling fade slightly with business men being very loud which I can only guess is after a long day on the golf course from what I could hear which was a lot. I found this overall very lowering to the atmosphere of the room.

I was then served what stated to be warm olive bread, however this was more just plain ciabatta without a olive in sight, this also came with oils and a pork and duck rillette (chunky pete) with pork cracking on top which was very pleasant and a nice addition to the normal butter etc. However where is the butter? it was a nice to have a change but I am firm believer in some things should not be changed and a small pot of butter I think should be also served.

Golden beetroot and Vulscobe goats’ cheese with elderflower dressing

Within 10 minutes my first course was serve, which is quite quick and did not even give me chance to get through half of a first slice of bread. However upon viewing this stunningly colourful plate of food and the aroma of such sweetness that came from it I was pleased it did. The golden beetroot which is new to me was ever so lovely just tender and easy to cut, complete with the Elder flower dressing this wa made very sweet indeed and need the goats cheese to add the earthier flavour to the dish. I thoughouly enjoyed this and would order again.

Paignton crab lightly bound in chive mayonnaise with watermelon and fennel

The second dish arrived in minutes of the first being taken away, presented again was a a beautiful colourful dish. I get the feeling the chefs garden must be constantly stripped of flowers as a pattern is starting to form. Tasting the dish I have mixed feelings the crab it’s self was lovely and had a great strong taste, however it seemed the fennel over powered the crab and both elements over powered the watermelon, still a lovely dish with the separate elements, but combined seemed to lack balance of flavours which blended

Hand dived Bay scallops on cabbage and lemon risotto with mussel foam

The third dish which I have been looking forwarded to, being a major fan of scallops arrived, this did take slightly longer than the previous dishes due to the hot elements I would think. However this was a welcome break and was appreciated. This dish was lovely, normally I find that chefs are trying to hard with scallops with adding very strong flavours and to often over power the star which is the scallops. However on this occasionally the balance was perfect with the scallop sweetness shining through from the lovely cabbage and lemon risotto which I thought would be over bearing but gladly was a joy. The muscle foam also added a lovely element when enough was tempted onto your fork. Overall very happy with this.

Rump of Cornish lamb with summer peas, roasted artichoke and a thyme jus

On to the main dish the lamb. I was very interested to see how they cooked this dish as I love very rare meat however lamb is too often over done. Upon cutting into the rump I was a glad to see the lovely pinkness shining through, this sadly was short lived as the deep I dug into the slices the more darker the meat got. I found this entire dish to very bland and under seasoned the roasted artichoke was not season at all it seemed also the mushrooms seemed watery and tasteless. The lamb however was tender and smooth to eat but again seem to lack any depth. The only saving grace was the lovely smooth and creamy mash potato. I was not impressed by the single main dish of the tasting menu at all.

Well the end of the main courses and starters and onto the desserts which is my favourite part.

Petit pot of coffee and Baileys mousse with warm chocolate foam, pistachio madelaines

First up which I have been looking forward to was a small pot of loveliness. And this is the only way to describe this. I almost was to dissect the individual layers of this pot just as the tastes were Devine. However when combined it all matched well with the earthy espresso calming the whole sweetness coming from the white chocolate and baileys. I was a very fond of the added space dust which anyone will admit brings back great child hood memories and was great. The small pistachio madelaine was also again very good, with s soft sponge texture and subtle flavour. This dish is a particular fond memory for me.

Glazed lemon tart with creme fraiche sorbet and minted raspberries

Moving on to the lemon tart, I was glad to see the small size portion as by now I am getting very full. I was particularly interested to see how the sorbet tasted and this was lovely and light and creamy. The tart it’s self smelled amazing with strong lemon scents. The strawberries again were lovely and fresh and not soft to eat. Very good dessert, with the creme brûlée topping of the tart being a very nice not mentioned surprise.

Coffee and petit fours were then served, these were all fudges of varying types, being white chocolate and passion fruit, white chocolate and pistachio, and dark chocolate with salt and sap. These were all very good with a good range of flavours and good sweetness and texture, I only wish my local shop brought fudge was this good. My americano coffee was also very good, very hot and strong with a good depth of flavour.

Ok well thats the meal over with the bill below.

Not bad for a tasting menu, however I would like to see the coffee included.  Also a very nice stick of Rock from a local Bon Bon shop to take home.

Final thoughts:
Service – 7/10
I have mixed views on the service within the restaurant as although plates were cleared quickly and with a smile, when you glass was empty/nearly no attempt was made to fill this. I witnessed one couple even leave their seats to acquire their bottle of water stored in the chilled bar area to fill their own glasses. However when asked about the food my waitress seemed to have good knowledge of what was served, and was more than happy to stop for 2minutes and chat about the dishes and also just general conversation.  Also I was witness to the waitress given an explanation of the various local cheese to a near by table, and I was very impressed with her knowledge and explanations of cheeses.  I think it would be a great benefit to have someone more dedicated to the restaurant however to ensure attention is given.

Food – 7/10
Now this was very difficult to score, mainly because of the whole meal was very pleasant, and enjoyable.  The main let down being the main course, to have a taster menu to be full of starter courses, you should ensure the main course be an absolute star of the show, but the lamb was a real let down on this menu.  If this dish was altered or changed I would instantly score the entire meal 8/9 however due to the lamb and the slightly unbalanced crab dish this will be marked a 7.

Value – 8/10
Overall I think this is quite good value with some very fine food served and not over the top prices the qunaity was good and I leave feel fulfilled.  However normally I have come to expect some little extras from taster menus in the form of Amuse Bouche or a palette cleanser between courses.  The elephant however made sure not to give anything anyway, this was demonstrated by what i believe to be a very high price of £4 for a standard blank coffee and 3No. cubes of Fudge.

Overall – 7.5/10
I would definatly return to “The Elephant” however next time I might try from the À la carte menu.