It’s been 5 years since Torquay’s redevelopment of what is now the Abbey Sands site, containing various eateries, coffee shop and flats, following the curve of the sea wall. More recently, there has been news of another hotel being redeveloped into an even larger site, in order to take advantage of the local, national and international visitors to Torquay and the Torbay area (or Torbaydos as some people affectionately call it).
With easy access by car but also by train to this harbour and seaside town, and a very accessible and wide promenade to meander along, there is plenty on offer for everyone including the independently owned Pier Point Restaurant and Bar. Positioned even closer to the sea wall than the Abbey Sands site, it has been feeding Torquay residents and visitors since 2006 and is well positioned next door to the Princess Theatre. Torquay is beautifully lit of an evening, and the outside of the restaurant certainly has some kerb appeal, although it’s name could be lit up to be more obvious so customers don’t pass this gem by.
We recently ate a delicious fish dish at The Pier Point as part of the Seafood Week 7 Restaurants event and were delighted by the sunny disposition it enjoys – sea views from it’s glazed frontage, or if the sun is out, patio seating allows you to make the most of the ocean view and fresh sea air.
As Torquay does rely on alot of tourist trade on top of the locals, winter can be a slightly quieter time but The Pier Point have released a lovely Saturday Night Winter Menu by Candlelight to add to their normal daytime and pre-theatre custom – available from 7:30pm throughout November and January..
Light bites of crispy pigs ears, spiced apple puree and sesame prawn toast, jalapeño mayo.
These prawn toasts were not measly triangles but never-seen-before plump crunchy mini-loaf style bites, with plenty of prawn filling and topping with a finer texture added thanks to the seeds. The jalapeno mayo having just the right hint of warmth to cut through as well as adding to the flavours – this was an impressive start.
Following on from complimentary in-house baked focaccia and homemade butters, our starters were:
Ham hock ballotine, quail egg, apple, faux crackle, black pudding puree – a tender, slightly sweet and generous portion of ham hock, accompanied with an earthy puree, texture from the crackle and the delights of a runny quail egg yolk, a really lovely dish.
Moroccan butternut squash soup with coconut ginger cream, pomegranates, pistachios and curried scallops with coconut & coriander dhal, apple salad.
Both cooked with care and showcasing the flavours that had been sold to us on the menu. Soup was consumed with satisfaction, murmurs of the comforting flavours and solid soup-making skills, which many don’t always get right, but this was spot on. Sweet, tender scallops on a tasty pillow of dhal were offset with delicate apple pieces; I would have liked a tiny bit more on the plate for this dish.
Mains up next, we opted for glazed rack of lamb, honey roasted beetroot, confit baby turnip, carrots, rainbow chard, pomegranate, port reduction – a handsome black plate showing off the colourful, well prepped and perfectly cooked veg. A tasty sauce and juicy meat made for a yummy plate of food; my only critique was that it was hard to eat very lady-like or cut apart without making a mess so maybe some help from the chefs by pre-cutting it in some way, and also a warmer plate next time please.
Other main events of 8oz beef fillet, sautéed wild mushrooms, bearnaise sauce, triple cooked hand cut chips and a brown butter poached halibut, celeriac puree, caper crumb were served.
A handsome steak, with an equally handsome king oyster mushroom and some more delicately sized fungi friends. The bearnaise sauce was delightfully acidic, herb-filled and creamy.
The halibut was cooked perfectly, on a lovely bed of garlicky spinach but the caper crumb that was dotted sparingly could’ve been more generous. The fish skin shouldn’t have been there – it is not edible and also dampened the look of the dish against the black plate background, but it was a tasty dish with excellent fish cookery otherwise.
Desserts…somehow we decided we could fit these in, and oh boy were we glad we did. Our meal so far had been pretty tasty but we were about to end on a cliff-top high.
Dark chocolate delice, honeycomb, peanut brittle, yoghurt, raspberry sorbet and treacle tart, lemon curd, meringue, raspberry espuma, seasonal berries.
First of all – treacle tart dismantled and reassembled shouldn’t work…don’t mess with tradition (most of the time) – but this was a corker. The savoury palate amongst us went for this instead of cheese; as far as puddings go, treacle tart is one of very few that will make him choose a sweet and he was super happy. Treacle tart filling, in a thin, crispy, cannelloni-like tube, stood up to grab your attention, whilst the zing of lemon, crunch of meringue and tartness of fruit added dimension and delight.
The delice was sublime – for a chocoholic (pudding-aholic really) this super smooth, chocolatey slab was surrounded by an incredibly full flavoured, tart sorbet (made in house!) with a salty peanutty nuggets for contrast. Honeycomb is usually just golden syrup, sugar and bi-carb but this clever comb, made in house, actually contained honey and was just beautiful.
What a way to end a meal!
Joint head chefs Stephen Brown & Darren Rockett have put together a great menu full of local produce with local veg from Totnes, fish from Brixham and meat from the local butchers – our advice would be to shout a bit more about the produce on the menu, as customers nowadays share in the passion of local and seasonal produce.
When we asked Chef Steve, who has been at Pier Point since 2014, to explain a bit more about their produce and ethos, he said:
We may spend long working days together, but still choose to fish and go to the Pier Point Allotment together in our free time – growing over 30 different fruits and vegetables fresh for personal use. I strongly believe that the South West has some of the best produce in the world and we ensure that Pier Point only buy MSC approved fish and as local as possible – championing hake which is usually only caught 100 miles off the coast.
Service during the evening had been attentive, time between dishes was really well judged (we hate to be rushed), and it was all of a great standard. Dimming the lights could add even more ambience, to allow the candlelight to really shine, but this is certainly a great venue for a cosy and delicious Saturday night dinner, after the pre-theatre dinner flurry which occurs up to 7pm.
If you can’t make it during November or January for this special menu, be sure to visit sometime during the day and enjoy the sea views this glazed building has to offer.
The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.