Snugly tucked in to the rolling hills of Mid Devon lies the beautiful yet relatively untouched town of Bampton. This is not a place that is dominated by a supermarket; it has a Costcutter but it has a green grocer, a butchers, a football club and a beautiful church that also acts as a Heritage Centre.
There is something undisturbed here, like the world hasn’t quite caught up, but it’s OK because the phone reception is good…
If I was going to Exmoor, I would most probably go through Bampton.
It lies close to the North East border of Devon and Somerset – this is the part of Devon that really lures people, with it’s sparse ruggedness. The surrounding countryside conveys the bleakness of Lorna Doone, but still invites you to stay and drink some more wine.
We were invited to visit the recently refurbished restaurant-with-rooms, ‘Peter Mundy at The Ginger Peanut’.
On the restaurants Facebook page, one diner had written:
“Wonderful food, friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere. Gorgeous surroundings, comfy seating and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. If it can be done, they do it!”
So clearly they must be doing something right…
The first thing to be noted is that they have their own parking – but even if that wasn’t the case, much of Bampton is unrestricted parking.
A walk through the town shows a well kept, proud place. Full of greenery and flowers, the nooks and small back streets are a delight to explore. The buildings are constructed from local stone and there is nothing out of place or controversial. It is manicured yet welcoming. Like an inland version of Topsham.
Peter Mundy’s restaurant has been open for just over a year, the rooms have been refurbished – they look fresh, and inviting. The chique interior, which Tori loved, was a pleasure to look at, with big comfy chairs and dark woods, it really put us both at ease.
We arrived early evening, it was a weekday and you could feel the heat of the day starting to ease. The welcome was as warm as the air outside, and we went straight to our room to do the customary ‘Tori-flopping-on-the-bed shot’ which we seem to do each time we stay over somewhere.
The bed was, as expected, super-comfy. Upon inspection you realise that there are no tea & coffee facilities. Those are located in the Guest Pantry – not only is there a complimentary tea and coffee, but also a wine fridge to keep your champers cold, and sweets and snacks to graze on when one feels peckish.
I love this touch, and the distance travelled isn’t too far from the room. Much of what we enjoyed about our stay was not just the elegant surroundings, but the details.
Porlock Bay oysters with Shallot vinegrette and fresh lemon on Ice (£2.50 each or 5 for £10)
Tori – House smoked Duck Breast, roasted Orange puree, pickled walnut, baby watercress, honey dressing (£8.95)
Chris: Chef’s homemade soup of the day, Asparagus and Truffle with homemade breads (£6.25)
Tori – 7oz 28 Day Aged Matured Fillet Steak, Portobello Mushroom, Vine Cherry Tomatos, Celery Salt & Truffle Oil – Chips (£23.95)
Chris – Pan roasted maize fed Chicken Supreme, Potato and Panchetta Terrine, butter poached Asparagus, Chicken Jus (G) (£16.95)
The eye for detail that threaded through our room continues in the restaurant. Hallmarked cutlery, cloth napkins and the food itself.
Peter took a few moments to come and say hello. It was good to meet Peter, orginally from Derbyshire, he moved to the South West eight years ago. Training by renowned chef Peter Groom in Classic French and Modern English cuisine, Peter also runs an award winning catering business too, they have (within a few days of writing this review) taken on a new head chef in the form of Vincenzo Gallitto from Sicily. It’ll be fascinating to see how his Italian roots influence the menu.
After our visit from the chef, he came back with a tray of five Porlock Bay oysters. This was a special dish for us as our honeymoon had been in North Devon, and one of the special photos that we have mounted on our wall at home was taken at Porlock Weir.
It was also special as this was going to be Tori’s first experience of Oysters.
Needless to say she found the experience interesting, although I ended up finishing the oysters myself as she conceeded that one was enough for her.
My previous experience of Oysters had been at an unnamed chain seafood restaurant, they were ice cold and the vinaigrette was refreshing and savoury.
The starter was a real contrast for me. From the ice cold freshness of the Oysters. I dived into the Soup of The Day, an Asparagus and Truffle with fresh home baked bread. I always find great variation in the seasoning of Asparagus soups but this was a well balanced soup which warmed the deep parts of the soul.
Tori’s starter with the House smoked Duck was a flavourful quartet of flavours playing on the classic combination of Duck and Orange.
Main courses did not disappoint either
Tori had her 7oz 28 Day Aged Matured Fillet Steak and was very happy. It was tender and had a great flavour profile. I nicked some of the chips, they were fluffy and crispy in all the right places.
I had seen the Maize fed Chicken Supreme on the Ginger Peanut’s Instagram page the day before. I knew I wanted it, and that is what I decided to have. This is the power of Digital Marketing and using social media for your food & drink business.
Not only was the chicken succulent and exactly how you’d want it (crispy skin for the chicken win – I wanted to say it was Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, but I feel this reference might be lost on most of my readers) but it was accompanied by a Potato and Pancetta Terrine, pancetta layered between the potato cunningly.
The terrine was cooked perfectly (often I’ve had these and the potato hasn’t cooked properly) and helped support my feeling that here at the Ginger Peanut, there was great value in the little details.
After a nice wind down, we decided against dessert. I was full – I know my limits, and I had definitely reached them. We returned to The Hare room, looking forward to a peaceful night’s sleep.
After working out how to use the coffee pod machine in the Guest Pantry, we sauntered down to breakfast. Although you can have anything that is on offer, you can also have a full English.
High quality sausages and thick bacon made for a satisfying and perky breakfast which set us up for the day.
The Ginger Peanut are doing many things right. For me, they are one of the stand-out names on the Devon foodie scene. Even though they are in a relatively quiet part of Mid/North Devon, there is stiff local competition.
Peter has created a classic menu with that emphasis on seasonal and local that makes places like The Ginger Peanut such a draw to local foodies. The fact that you can have such a good food experience, and then rock into a comfy luxury bed makes this destination even more attractive.
19 Fore St, Bampton, Tiverton EX16 9ND
The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.