I like discovering the hidden gems. There are always some culinary pockets of the unknown in any part of the world, and the latest discovery for me is The HH Restaurant in Broadclyst which, for me, is one of the most underrated fine dining restaurants in Devon. That was a statement wasn’t it? But I hold to it happily.
Years ago back in my yoof, I used to attend Clyst Vale Community College and each day we’d drive past The Coachman’s Rest (as it was) as part of our bus route. A strange and quirky tea-room, it never seemed to be open but had been on this spot for absolutely years.
When it was sold, I was intrigued to hear that it was going to be turned in to a restaurant, and since it opened I have heard from other foodies it is actually really good. How good is it? It is Taste Of The West Gold standard, having won a gold award in 2013. It has won or been short listed for a raft of other commendations as well such as:
Michelin recommended 2013 and 2015
Best Fine Dining Restaurant” Food & Drink 2013
Devon Life Best Restaurant Runner Up 2011
And a quick look at Trip Advisor shows the usual spread and variety of comments that any restaurant tends to get, but a strong consensus on the fact that this is, according to TA, a fantastic restaurant.
So I was quite excited to have been invited over to see what they do well, and after a lovely evening I really want to help this place gain the recognition that it deserves amongst foodies in Devon.
The day-to-day operation is headed up by Head Chef, James Nightingale who met us and had a quick chat with us before the meal. Having started off at The HH Restaurant, he left to hone his skills at other fine dining restaurants before coming back as Head Chef a few years ago. Since James returned he’s been skillfully and carefully creating seasonal menus using fine local produce from producers near and nearer.
The menu changes regularly, a nice touch is that they put a recommended wine with each dish. It is a really good British menu with a nice variation with fish, pork and a vegetarian option all included. Fancy something off the menu? Then given everything is from scratch, they are accommodating to all tastes and diets.
The HH Restaurant is also doing a Steak Night on a Wednesday night which is really staggering value! and a Sunday Lunch offer too.
We kicked our meal off with a complimentary Beetroot Velouté with Fresh Bread. A delicious and complex palette, the sweetness and the earthy tones balanced nicely and contrasted well with the fresh bread.
For starters I had the Ham Hock Terrine accompanied by a Pea Puree (not avocado Chris..), my able assistant going for the Mushroom Velouté which was scattered with tiny mushrooms and edible flowers. The Ham Hock Terrine was full of lean cuts of ham and a wonderfully colourful puree was blended and presented wonderfully. As with these sorts of dishes, the presentation itself is an art form. Tori’s Mushroom Velouté inspired many satisfied noises from the other side of the table.
For the mains I had to go for the Devon Day Boat Fish, which today was Bream with tomato & caper dressing. I’m really becoming quite a fan of Bream, which for me is quite an achievement as I really am not a fan of seafood. Given I don’t eat fish at home, its always a treat to come out and have it cooked expertly.
But Bream? I would happily choose this again, a lovely fish that wasn’t too fishy (those who are like me about fish will know the score) but had a good texture to it. It flaked like soft pillows, the potato puree underneath gave it a diverse palette that resulted in a gorgeous sauce with the juices mixed in by the end.
My able assistant went for the Pork Loin served with haricot beans, bacon, mushrooms & tender stem broccoli. The meat was tender, the vegetables were beautifully steamed and the whole thing looked amazing.
Dessert is always, for me, one of the highlights of any meal. But go to a chain restaurant and you’re faced with a disappointing affair, often bland and overpriced so often I don’t even bother. But this is fine dining, and there is no such thing as ‘pre-made’.
My dessert was a luscious Ginger Loaf served with butter scotch sauce and homemade vanilla seed ice cream. It looks gorgeous in the photos, and it was as delicious as it looks. The warmth of the loaf and the coldness of the homemade ice cream was sweet but not overly sweet, a well balanced dessert with a variation of temperature that really worked.
Tori went with the Homemade Rhubarb Crème Brulee, a brulee that kept its shape, crunchiness and texture beautifully on the plate. This for me, really showed the technical skill that James Knightingale posesses as a chef, given this is one of the harder desserts to get right. It wasn’t just right, it was pretty much perfect.
Fran, the waitress has to get a special mention as she was brilliant. We had a good conversation with her, and she’s quite the artist too!
Tel: 01392 461 472