Category Archives: Restaurant Review

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.