Restaurant Review: The Horn of Plenty, Tavistock in Devon
During a stay at Devon’s four star hotel, The Horn of Plenty this January, I was invited to dine at the hotel’s 3 AA Rosette rated restaurant.
The hotel sits in the Tamar Valley and offers amazing views and a luxury stay with fine dining thrown in for good measure. After my guest, Nick, and I spruced ourselves up for the evening, we took a seat in the hotel’s reception room to enjoy a glass of rose Champagne and peruse the menu. An open fire greeted us and we took our seats among the comfy armchairs. The classic décor was a far cry from the modern style of our room with pictures of flowers and country scenes adorning the walls and the ornate fireplace housing the roaring fire, making us feel very relaxed and cosy.
While sipping on our Champagne (Ayala Rose Brut – Majeur NV) we had a glance over the menu and made our choices each for the evening. The menu had a wintry feel to it – offering up earthy tones with beetroot, mushrooms, truffles and game. Heavy Far Eastern influences featured as well with mango, coconut, satay and variations of spices appearing throughout, with a good mix of vegetarian options as well. Head chef, Scott Paton has gained 3 AA Rosettes during his time here by offering fresh flavours and fine quality ingredients – 90 per cent of which are sourced from the West Country.
After our choices had been taken we were brought an appetiser of sweetcorn and chilli muffin with paprika mayonnaise (light at first followed by a kick), game sausage with damson gel (very tasty with a perfect sweet gel to accompany) and a four cheese gougère (light, airy and tasty). We finished these off then made our way through to the restaurant to take our seats before enjoying a taster of apple and celeriac with chives. It had a lovely flavour with a good balance of sweetness and warmth to it, with the chives adding an earthy taste.
Our starters arrived soon after looking very delectable – top marks for presentation! I had opted for the roast Brixham scallop with satay, chicken, watermelon and lime. The peanut satay flavours worked wonders with the crispy edged and plump scallops while dots of lime cut through the peanut nicely making it a very enjoyable set of flavours for me. Watermelon is not my favourite and the cold pieces of chicken didn’t add anything to the plate but the other elements were delightful together. Nick had chosen a belly of suckling pig, pear, turnip and winter spices, it all looked wonderful sat there on the plate and he very much enjoyed it. He said there was a good balance of meat and fat on the pork with a deliciously crisp side of skin. The turnip added a nice crunch and the pear offered a sweetness, which balanced out the dish. Both starters offered few ingredients but proved that, when cooked well and paired with the right accompaniments, that can be a glowing success.
My main course arrived and I was presented with my delicious smelling Creedy Carver duck with fig confit, fennel and anise. It was accompanied with Brussels sprouts and a polenta cake containing duck. The duck was of fantastic quality and tender and the cake was crispy, while the fig and gravy were sweet. Anise and fennel are not my favourite flavours but they worked really well with this dish matching the fig and meat beautifully. The fig confit was the winning element on the dish for me as it was sweet and full of flavour, and the plate of food as a whole was tasty and fresh. Nick enjoyed a main of Hatherleigh Estate fallow deer, woodland mushrooms, alliums, mushroom purée and beetroot. He said it was a very good dish with the tender and mouth-watering meat being rich in flavour and beautifully cooked. The beetroot added crunch and earthy flavours while the rich, tasty purée and onions were flavoursome.
After two successful courses and a few glasses of Pinot Noir each we were eager to see what the dessert course could offer us. I had chosen the Valrhona dulce delice, opera gateau and hazelnut ice cream. The gateau consisted of delicate layers of dark chocolate, chocolate sponge and cream with coffee flavours. The hazelnut ice cream had gentle flavours and matched the other flavours on the plate well, while the dulce delice (milk jelly) was nice and had a lovely gold decoration on top. Little crunchy pieces of chocolate crumb rounded the dish off to make a well textured and flavoursome dessert that I thoroughly enjoyed. Nick’s dessert made me rather jealous as it was another chocolate feast, consisting of Guanaja chocolate, salted caramel textures and caramelised clementine sorbet. He said the flavours combined to remind him of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. There were elements of smooth, hard and crumbed rich chocolate, which was nicely paired with the sharp sorbet and caramel shards.
We both agreed that top marks had to be given for the delicate and eye catching presentation on every dish. Lots of colour, textures and smells radiated from each plate of food, meaning we were satisfied before we had even tasted the what was on the plate. It was a very enjoyable evening of dining for us both and we were thrilled to be able to take our time with the meal and leisurely stroll back to our room with pleasantly full bellies and a satisfied smile on our faces.
In a nutshell
The food here lives up to the expectation. Every dish has been carefully thought through and offers traditional British cooking with occasional exotic flavours. The location is fantastic, the staff are friendly and the food is delightful.
Address: Gulworthy, Tavistock PL19 8JD / 01822 832528