For those who relish in dining out, whether with friends, solo, as a couple or for those who make it a perfect opportunity to spend some time with family, this year has us truly appreciating those sumptuous delights only the most talented of chefs can create.
Though many of us seized the opportunity to learn new skills in the kitchen, we all know that home prepared food doesn’t come close to what the hard-working and well-trained professionals can whip up. When Super Saturday came blissfully apparent, those of us who had so missed the restaurant experience gleefully got booking and our favourite restaurants readied themselves for a summer of trying to recoup what they had missed out on.
Though some had turned their hands to takeaways and now potentially faced fewer covers with Covid rules in place, the restaurants were geared up for what they did best – providing their faithful diners with an array of welcome treats designed to please our palates and whet our appetites for more.
One such place was The Angel in the country’s South West coastal town of Dartmouth in Devon, where the kitchen is headed up by award-winning chef and MasterChef finalist, Elly Wentworth. This 2AA-rosette-holding eatery serves up some pretty impressive dishes and wines and one Friday evening in September I was headed there to have a taste for myself.
Upon arrival I was greeted by Jordan and immediately spotted some of the Covid-safe measures the restaurant has put in place: hand sanitiser at the door, personnel wearing face shields, spaced out tables, the removal of table cloths, and I was also aware that staggered dining times were in place to ensure people aren’t gathered and waiting at the door. They are taking it seriously and all in name of offering their guests a comfortable environment in which to enjoy their top-quality victuals.
I was lucky enough to be offered the tasting menu with accompanying wine flight for the evening and I didn’t have to wait long at all; service was quick, and this continued for the rest of the evening. Starting the meal with a glass of 2016 Sparkling Sharpham Blanc from a local vineyard, this light and fresh tipple paired perfectly with some tasty little canapes, which melted in the mouth with their delicate nature. Next up was an amuse bouche of red cabbage and apple gazpacho, served in a branded espresso cup – a nice little touch – along with some sourdough and salted butter.
Upon enquiring about the espresso cup, I was informed that there are plans to sell them, and this isn’t the only branching out The Angel is doing; along with some flats upstairs (it would be so tempting knowing that this food was being served up below), there is a new gin on the block, and it is lip-smackingly good. The spirit has been made in collaboration with Conker Spirits and uses Devonshire black garlic, honey and ginger in its creation, I had a little sample and really enjoyed the savoury essences in there.
Back to the food and the next course was roast diver scallops with iceberg lettuce and lobster velouté paired with a glass of Bianco, A mano 2019 from Puglia in Italy. A divine little dish with plenty of moisture, the flavours, delicate textures – with black caviar too – were mouth-watering. The velouté was rich, sweet, salty and flavourful and allowed the meaty and succulent scallop to shine. I couldn’t fault this, and the creamy wine was the ideal accompaniment.
A cool beetroot tart was up next and was served with relish, sorrel and goat’s curd as well as a serving of Mandrarossa ‘Costadune’ Nero d’Avola 2019 from Menfi in Sicily. The pretty food was made all the more aesthetically pleasing by its placement on a thick, curved stone dish, which kept the ingredients cool. Little pickled discs of beetroot sat under a delicate pastry case which held tiny cubed beetroot pieces, the creamy cheese and bigger pieces of the root vegetable with a smattering of puffed rice to add texture. The wine pairing was spot on again, complementing the food so well and adding an additional element, as it should.
Red mullet with caramelised fennel, quinoa and bisque was the next course and this was served with a glass of 2018 Framingham Pinot Gris from Marlborough in New Zealand. Another top wine, I enjoyed the full, fruity tipple with its pineapple hues, and this was a good pairing to have alongside the meaty flavours on the dish. Served on another great plate – I am loving the dishes on which the food is presented – the fish was chunky; the bisque was meaty and the fennel crunchy.
Perfectly cooked pieces of top-quality Creedy Carver duck from Crediton in Devon greeted me next, and this meat was elevated by charred hispi, salted granola, a delightful potato terrine and gorgeous smelling jus. This was accompanied by a glass of 2018 Zorah ‘Karasi’ Areni Noir from Armenia and I revelled in the thorough descriptions that came with each serving of wine. The array of flavours and textures on this dish, the wine; it was all there, making for perfect course. The sweet and sticky jus worked so well, a smokiness, and the potato terrine with its seemingly thousand layers and crispiness made for a divine plate of food.
Dessert was a Devonshire clotted cream parfait with pear sorbet, sesame and aero and this was paired with a lovely helping of 2016 Pieropan ‘Le Colombare’ Recioto de Soave from Veneto, Italy. There was a pleasant blend of sweet and savoury and crunchy and smooth within the food and the dessert wine was very drinkable, something I can’t usually finish!
A smooth cappuccino and a selection of chocolate petit fours were a great way to end to the meal, even though I struggled to get those last little bites in. The meal had been utterly delightful and if I could have done it all again the next evening, I would have.
In a nutshell
The perfect way to forget any worries and woes, this gem on Devon’s south coast provides all the elements you could wish for from a meal out. Great quality, local ingredients prepared in innovative ways, wonderful wine pairings, friendly and knowledgeable personnel and scallop and duck dishes to revel in.
The tasting menu costs £80 with an additional £55 for the wine flight, if desired. There is a vegetarian tasting menu too, and this requires 24-hour notice. Lunch and dinner a la carte menus are also available as is a Sunday roast takeaway menu for lucky locals.
Address: The Angel, South Embankment, Dartmouth, TQ6 9BH
Phone: 01803 833488