Nestled in the beautiful South Devon coastal village of Maidencombe, not far from Newton Abbot, is the stunning family-owned Georgian country house of Orestone Manor. Throughout the 1850’s, Orestone Manor would have been the setting for many family gatherings, candlelit dinners, music in the parlour, children’s games and perhaps croquet on the lawn, but today serves as a relaxing retreat and restaurant with the quaint feel of a country house plus the additional lure of the sea. Its striking exterior is complimented by its warm and inviting ambience inside and offers spectacular views over Lyme Bay and beyond.
With the English Riviera becoming ever more accessible thanks to the completion of the new A380 bypass, we were pleasantly surprised that it took us a mere 20 minutes from Exeter’s junction 30 of the M5 – no time at all when you have an award-winning restaurant awaiting your presence, boasting 2 AA rosettes, a 5/5 rating on Tripadvisor and a gold winner of the South West’s Taste of the West Awards.
Although the manor boasts 14 charming rooms to stay in if you so desired, it is the award-winning restaurant that was the focus of our visit. Chefs Neil and Catherine D’Allen really have a passion for food, and that emanates through everything they do. Some of their sensational recipes have even been chosen to feature alongside those from the South West’s finest chefs in the 200-page food bible: ‘Relish South West Second Helping’, a new book that looks behind the scenes at what it takes to serve the South West’s best loved dishes, headlined by the twice Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw.
Before entering the restaurant we were warmly welcomed into a beautifully furnished lounge where we sank into huge sofas while we perused the menu – which contains only the finest local produce, some of which having even been grown in the hotel grounds – while enjoying our drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
To start we opted for the Brixham Crab Martini with Avocado, Mango Ice and Poppy Seed Straw (£10.50) and the Chicken Liver Parfait served on Toasted Brioche with Red Onion. The presentation of both dishes was simply sublime. Never have I been reluctant to damage the way my meal had been laid out in front of me, but both myself and my wife were genuinely taken aback by how our meals were brought to us. When we finally did, we were treated with a symphony for the taste buds. The flavours of the avocado, mango and crab were perfectly balanced to really make my palate sing.
I must admit, I can’t resist a steak wherever I dine. Because of this I’ve had more than my fair share of overly rare, or over cooked meat when requesting a steak that is medium to well-done. Orestone met my requirements perfectly, bringing me two delicious Fillet Steak Medallions with Hand-Cut Chips, Confit Tomatoes, Mushroom and choice of sauce (£16.50) – delicious. My wife selected the Double-baked Cheese Soufflé (£14). Light and tasty and accompanied by a fresh tossed salad, cream sauce, and choice of potato, this made for a light yet very satisfying main meal.
For our final course, our choices couldn’t have been more different. Almost full to bursting, I felt the need for something light and refreshing and knew that the Strawberries and Cream (£6.50) would fill that final gap. My wife, after choosing a lighter main, had trouble deciding between the Crème Brûlée (£6.50) and the Banoffee Plate (£6.50) but in the end, the temptation of the delicious tasting caramelised banana, salted caramel ice cream and coffee panacotta was simply too much to resist while still looking fantastic!
If you’re looking to sample a taste of fine dining in a historic setting where coast meets country, make a trip to Orestone Manor – you’ll not leave disappointed.
Words: Paul Veysey
Visit Orestone Manor online at: www.orestonemanor.com