It’s hard to visit Topsham and not notice The Salutation Inn. Its stunning three story façade has stood proudly in the centre of Fore Street since 1720 and since then has witnessed history at its most alive – from Regatta balls to attempted horse jumping in the dining room, the Inn has seen it all and stands proudly today to tell the tale.

Stepping inside on a very rainy day in January, we got the unusual but exciting feeling of stepping back in time but with a modern twist; while the surroundings are undoubtedly historic, there are no seamen from the local port demanding a swill of grog here – rather, you experience the very best that 2016 has to offer in a stylishly restored setting and exquisite hospitality. My friend and I were seated in The Glasshouse, a glorious glass atrium that is light, airy and beautifully decorated, which we felt would be equally a very comfortable setting with the rain pounding down as it was that day, or on a warm summer’s day.

We took quite a while perusing the various menus; the Prix Fixe menu which offers two courses for just £16 or three for a very reasonable £21.00 and the light lunch menu, from which we eventually chose Duck Liver Parfait (£7.50) and West Country Moules Marinieres (£7.50) to start with. Both were served with generous helpings of fresh sourdough and butter on the side, and frankly, both dishes were exceptional. The duck liver parfait was perfectly complimented by fruit bread and pear chutney and each bite yielded another spectacular flavour combination – I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten anything quite so well balanced before. Beautifully presented, I tried my first edible flower and was pleasantly surprised! The moules, we mutually agreed (as naturally we tried and even swapped courses at some points to try) were some of the best we have ever tried; delicately flavoured and equally as well cooked and a very generous portion, we thought they were excellent value for the price.

For our main courses we chose Glazed Confit Duck Leg (£16.00) and The Salutation Hot and Cold Meat Platter (£19.50). I think I expected a few slices of Parma ham and other antipasti on the platter as the menu doesn’t specify, so was genuinely surprised, excited and curious when a selection of exquisite meats was placed in front of me. Chicken terrine, chorizo, pork cheek, duck leg and parfait amongst other delights literally adorned the platter and sampling the various delicacies was both an adventure in taste and luxury. The confit duck leg was declared divine – the meat fell away from the bone and like the parfait before it, was perfectly balanced in flavour and presentation.

We were very excited about dessert – the skills of the Salutation’s patisserie chef had been lauded before our visit there and my oh my, we were not disappointed. When we asked to see the desserts, a waitress presented a platter of the choices for that day and my instinct was to say “yes please!” to the lot! At just £3.50 a piece, we agreed that the patisserie stole the show – we opted for a salted caramel and passionfruit log that was insanely good and a chocolate, hazelnut and lemon creation that ticked every box. So often, the dessert menu is what lets a restaurant down, but this was a far cry from the run of the mill crumble and custard and chocolate fudge cake – this was French patisserie at its finest and a real treat to eat.

There are so many things to love about The Salutation Inn; the glorious history that seeps through the walls, the chic surroundings and the spectacular food – for every one of those reasons I’ll be crossing its threshold again.

By Mary Bennellick

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