Restaurant Review: The Trevilder Restaurant at Thurlestone Hotel, near Salcombe in Devon
Fine dining isn’t just about eating nice food – though that is the main draw, of course – other elements play a part such as the location and décor. Don’t get me wrong, I’d take a really decent meal in a poorly decorated windowless eatery any day over a restaurant with a view and substandard food. But take a minute to consider those occasions when the stars seem to align and you find that place with THE VIEW, the atmosphere that makes you truly relaxed and the food that fills you with such excitement or contentment that you can’t wait to share those photos.
The Trevilder Restaurant set in the 4 star Thurlestone Hotel in glorious South Devon comes rather close to that. My guest, Nick, and I were lucky enough to be spending a night at the hotel with dinner thrown in so we made the most of the good weather, which was on our side and started our evening with a tipple on the bar’s terrace. The early evening’s summer sun was glancing down upon us and we took in the hotel grounds, nearby bouncing green fields, beautiful beach and view of Bigbury Bay beyond.
We were offered to sample the tasting menu and dare we refuse! Seven courses of some lip-lickingly good food to taste (£70 per person to include coffee or £105 with the wine flight) with delights to include lobster and fillet of beef was not going to be denied! Before the main contenders arrived we had a sampling of bread and a little cool and refreshing red soup of watermelon and chilli.
The first course from the menu was Salcombe crab with pickled cucumber and saffron aioli. This very light, fresh and summery dish was also flavoursome and delicate and had a generous helping of crab meat with a claw too. A nice combination of textures were present as well and this was an excellent start for us both.
Course two was pig’s cheek with a black pudding bon bon and burnt apple. This immediately elevated itself to my favourite course and stayed there for the entirety of my meal! It smelled and looked fantastic and I proclaimed on the night that I could eat it every day. A celebration of the pig; the crackling was fantastic, the bon bon rich and the cheek had a wonderful texture. Sweeter elements lifted the heavier parts and a white potato mash soaked up the gravy. Ten out of ten.
Course three was a cauliflower cappuccino with Godminster cheddar and summer truffle. Small chunks of cauliflower and finely grated truffle sat in a lightly cheese flavoured cup of delight. With a foamy top and a good balance of flavour, this was a very nice dish.
Course four was a colourful plate of lobster Thermidor risotto with tempura claw and sea vegetables. Each course had been served on a white, clear or very pale grey dish to allow the food to stand out, and here it worked best. Red, orange and green shades greeted us and I loved the tempura claw. Samphire is about the only sea vegetable I can bear (apart from perhaps the crispy seaweed from my local Chinese) and the sweet, delicate lobster was delicious. The risotto was good but there was maybe a little too much cheese considering the previous course.
Course five was Devon fillet of beef with pomme purée and Bourguignon garnish. A gorgeous piece of meat was complemented with ever-so lighter flavours in the shallot and carrot. A rich gravy was drizzled over, while bacon and mushrooms joined the party to create a gorgeous plate of food, with the beef as the star. At this point I started to struggle as the portions had been generous in size and I had consumed two lots of white potato and risotto. I would perhaps consider reducing the amount of potato and perhaps making the portions a little smaller so the diner can make it to the end comfortably. Having said that I enjoyed each dish greatly and I loved the thoughtful presentation and the classic ingredient pairings that were prepared and presented in such a delicious way.
Course six arrived soon after and the pre dessert of pineapple panna cotta was just the fruity dish needed. The delicate and creamy panna cotta had little chunks of pineapple and pieces of crispy meringue to accompany. The final course of chocolate fondant with cherry purée and honeycomb ice cream was beautiful. The fondant was light and perfect and the sweet purée, cool ice cream and little crumb added to this very well. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish this as I was so full from the previous courses.
The hotel was established in 1896 by the Grose family and has been extended, cared for and improved greatly over its lifetime. The family moved from Trevilder in Cornwall to run the hotel and the recently refurbished restaurant pays tribute to this. The décor harks back to a bygone era of glamour and opulence with a light and fresh take on the Art Deco theme. Predominantly white walls with shutter effect panels sit alongside metallics, pearl and mirrored features. Tables are clothed in white and curved armchairs are a subtle pale blue. We were seated in a low backed two-seater booth, which faced out to the sea and I felt very relaxed to have my own space. Looking out at the wonderful view was mesmerising at times and the floor to ceiling windows in the restaurant allow you to make the most of the South Hams scene. There are unique design features with small, round gold mirrors set at different heights, which line the back edge of the restaurant in front of the wine cabinets. The area is split up with a front section, back area, chef’s table for special occasions and an area for groups.
The restaurant, which has been awarded with 2 AA Rosettes, is run by Hugh Millar. He has spent 20 years working with the Grose family, having previously worked on the QE2. His style of cooking involves taking classic ingredients pairings and presenting them in the most delicious of ways as can be seen on the tasting menu.
All staff were friendly and the food came out quickly but the service could be improved upon slightly – at times dishes were put down with no explanation so I asked to see the menu. I would consider slightly smaller portions with less carbs so the diner can truly enjoy this wonderful food – you really don’t want to have to waste a single bite!
In a nutshell
Classic ingredient pairings are served up in a delightful way – it’s difficult not to enjoy everything that is put in front of you. The restaurant itself is elegant and the view you get is worth going for alone!
Natasha Heard was hosted by Thurlestone Hotel, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity). Situated on the South Devon coast near Salcombe, the hotel is a short stroll from a beautiful beach and its extensive facilities include the Voyage Spa, outdoor pool and new restaurant ‘The Trevilder’, which opened in May following a million-pound refurbishment. A one-night stay in a Sea View room costs from £230 (two sharing) including bed and breakfast. Dinner, bed and breakfast rates also available. The seven-course tasting menu costs £70 pp and £105 pp with wine flight. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (prideofbritainhotels.com).