I always look forward to my annual trip to Torquay, mainly because it involves eating out every night! Now I could not blog every thing I ate this week but I would like to mention my top three places to eat. Alas, no photos from this trip as did not have camera with me, so hope the links to the places help.
Probably the best fish and chips ever……
A trip to Dartmouth gave us an opportunity to experience Mitch Tonk’s Rockfish. The tag line of the restaurant is “Fish so fresh, tomorrows is still in the sea”- a fantastic advert in itself. The fish is caught locally and cooked in an open kitchen. The informal cafe style setting and cardboard serving trays make it a great place for families and the menu offering lots of different types of fish cooked in either batter, breadcrumbs or grilled, had the old favourites but also some new fish to try. I went for the battered halibut, which was a chunk of meaty fish in a golden, delicate batter. The chips have to be some of the best I have ever eaten but I struggled to eat the portion I ordered and maybe would have been better off sharing with a friend! We also ordered a portion of sand eels, the special of the day, as none of us had tried them before. We were all expecting large chunks of eel, but were pleasantly surprised when long, individual battered eels came up, reminding me of whitebait especially with the mayo dip. Great fish and chips, simply done but in a much better setting than a greasy chippy. Would love to see more of these types of places all over, as Dartmouth is so far away from me for it to be a regular haunt!
Views and Vino
After several recommendations and being unable to secure a booking last year, a visit to The Cary Arms had been planned for a long time! The wait was well worth it, if only for the view (please do take time to visit the website as words just cannot describe it!). We got to enjoy the view from our table by the window as we perused the blackboard menus. The food is gastro pub fare done extremely well. My prawn and crayfish cocktail had a twist of a Bloody Mary sauce which gave a tang to the succulent seafood. My tuna steak was cooked to perfection, which made up for the fact that I had not been asked how I wanted it cooked! A fellow diner complained that his portion of hake wrapped in proscuttio was too small but I think he had just picked the wrong thing as everyone else was very happy with the size of their plates. To finish the meal off, I memorized the desserts board for our table, proud of myself, but then our waitress brought over the mini menu board! The caramelized pears on toasted brioche was divine and rounded the meal off well.
I would love to visit The Cary Arms hotel but think that may have to wait for a very special occasion!!!
The Orange Tree
After visiting Torquay every year for ten years, this is a firm favourite and one I look forward to visiting all summer. It is everything a restaurant should be and more and if I ever were to own my own place, I would want it to be like The Orange Tree. The service is second to none, friendly but not overbearing. The setting is serene and calming. The menu is seasonal and well thought out and often needs deliberating over to make sure the right decision is made! It always is!
This year again lived up to the high expectations. From the outset with homemade olive and parmesan bread to the moreish petit fours, the night of ideal food was excellent. A crab bisque with king scallops was creamy and fishy with the perfectly cooked scallops adding an extra hit to the foamy soup. This year, we decided to go for the sorbet course- my mojito sorbet had the right limey hit; however my friend’s pink grapefruit sorbet was too sharp and hit the back of the throat. But that was just one glitch.
Now as a pescatarian, I usually go for the fish, but the sweetcorn polenta with creamed mushrooms and tomato and pine nut sauce sounded too good to turn down. Having sampled Roast Potato’s Mushroom Polenta, inspired by Ottolenghi’s Plenty recipe, I knew it should be something good. And it was, so good that I found it hard to eat the legendary Orange Tree mash!
The restaurant makes choosing dessert easy as they offer a trio of mini desserts-a selection of their best. I had to have this and enjoyed a mini creme brulee flavoured with Tia Maria and a homemade crumbly shortbread; a slice of dark chocolate tart with pineapple and coconut ice cream; a mini summer pudding with creme fraiche and homemade honeycomb. All three were to die for desserts but the highlight had to be the honeycomb.
Anyone in the Torquay area at any point should make a big effort to visit The Orange Tree, to me one of my favourite top 5 restaurants.