Devon is a foodie county – it’s in no doubt that we have some of the UK’s best restaurants, pubs and producers located amongst our rolling green hills. Within this pool of choice for diners and gourmands like me, are some fantastic destinations that are worth a visit. Every time I get to write about one of them, I feel so grateful I am able to call Devon my home and that we are surrounded by such a bounty of delicious ingredient and talent, all in the same place within a couple of hours from my doorstep.
Paschoe House is an award winning, five star, boutique country house hotel, set in twenty-five acres of gorgeous Devon countryside. A short drive from Crediton, there is an idyllic charm to the surroundings that can only be found in a setting like this. That long driveway, the country house emerging from behind the trees, the crackle of gravel as your tyres gently settle. There should be a name coined for that unique feeling of excitement inspired by crackling tyres.
Explorers who come to visit, can choose from an array of packages. Midweek Indulgence, The Full Paschoe Experience, Delightful Dartmoor (which includes a chauffeur driven tour of Dartmoor), are just some of the packages on offer. There is even Petaway rooms which allow guests to bring their four legged love ones to their pet friendly accomodation. Altogether, nine individually styled rooms, all en-suite and most of them with bathrooms, welcome guests to this hotel in a beautiful part of Devon.
At the helm of their food is Chef James Checkley, South West Chef of the Year Finalist and former Head Chef at The Coach House; he is now heading the team at Paschoe House and firmly planting them in the minds of foodies as a place for exquisite food. Their social media is a veritable array of foodporn, curated and mindful of their brand – follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (links at the bottom of the page).
As we found ourselves driving up the long driveway, we imagined what owning a house like this must be like. Most people’s point of reference would be Downton Abbey, or Remains of The Day, but a large house like Paschoe is a momentary trip back in time. Great country houses like this could be lost for good, if they did not find new leases of life. It has been lovingly preserved and restored by Tabitha Fern, the current owner, after a long history which you can read about on the website.
For us the crackle of gravel was there, and so was the excitement. The interior is an elegant fusion of modern elegance, with a classic country house style. It retains an air of grandisosity, but it is humanised by the modernity and tasteful style of the decor.
Dining Devon had been invited to sample their tasting menu. Starting at £80pp, add a wine flight for £55pp for a curated and carefully selected alcoholic accompaniment. Naturally, full disclosure, we paid for drinks but the meal tonight was gifted.
Our menu looked like this:
- Pan Fried Scallop with Curry Veloute, Shallot, Kaffir Lime and Almond
- Chicken Ballotine with Truffle, Confit Yolk, and Shitake A La Grecque
- Cured Salmon with Pickled Ginger, Honey & Soy, Wasabi, and Cucumber
- Cod Fillet with Poached Leek, St Austell Bay Musssels, Pancetta, and a White Wine Foam
- Venison with Cornish Blue, Pear, Celeriac, and Red Wine Jus
- Vanilla Panna Cotta with Hedgerow Berries, Pistachio Cake and Pistachio Ice Cream
- Banana Souffle with a Banana and Passionfruit Sorbet
Wine: Calusari, Pinot Noir, Viile Timisului, Romania 2018
Here in House Gower, we are big fans of pan fried scallops – with a curry and lime combining to create a flavourful contrast to the silky smooth taste and texture of the scallop, this was a strong opening to the meal.
The chicken bellotine provided a beautiful contrast to the smoothness of the scallop. A chilled meaty island of flaked chicken, with a chicken skin ‘crisp’ as a garnish. The confit yolk was a creative addition that really brought the plate together.
For me the Cured Salmon was a flavourful dish that I enjoyed thoroughly. Although smoking and poaching salmon is often the method I see the most, curing salmon takes away a lot of that typical salmon-earthy palette and gives it a much more meaty tone. Mrs G is not a fan of salmon in any form but she took the plunge and thoroughly enjoyed this one. The texture of the salmon was smooth and delicate, you could almost inhale it.
The Cod Fillet was a blast of flavour. The white wine foam covers the fish and hides the pancetta and poached leek underneath. The burst of umami from the pancetta with the fish, and the slight onion from the leek was more of a suprise than it most probably should have been! A really excellent fish dish.
When I saw this on the menu, it took my interest as I was intrigued how two strong flavours would work together. Venison can be quite strong in taste, and naturally blue cheese is a tricky one to incorporate into a dish without it taking over completely. This was balanced and flavoursome, plate that brought two strong flavours together in a harmony along with the tenderness of the Venison.
Our first sweet was the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Pistachio Cake and Pistachio Ice Cream – pistachio is often a really delicate flavour, a flavour that can sometimes be an afterthought, rather than the centre stage. This dessert felt like the talented bit-part actor being given the leading role, the pistachio really spoke out but in such a way that it harmonised with the rest of the flavours of the hedgerow berries and the vanilla.
The final course was the Banana Souffle, a wonderfully created hot cloud of sweet banana as the fork broke the delicate skin. It was rich in taste, with a wafting aroma – an expertly created dessert, the skill was evident in it’s creation.
The culinary standard that Paschoe House achieves is as elegant and luxurious as the surroundings. The Three AA Rosettes that they have achieved and proudly uphold should be a good indicator that this is a place that knows exactly how to create a luxury, yet relaxing environment that understates the opulence. The attention to detail in service and food sets Paschoe House apart.
Due to the times we live in, the 10pm curfew came about all too quickly and we left sooner than we might have wanted to in any normal circumstance. The winding lanes, bathed in a cold darkness that, for the first time this year forced me to put the car heater on.
Our cosy table, the inviting surroundings and the wealth of activities that are on hand for the diners and residents alike make Paschoe House a must-go destination for any visitor to the region, as well as Devonians too. Whilst we dined, we discovered that the couple who shared our socially distanced dining space, were themselves on a little staycation. I couldn’t think of anywhere more perfect.
Paschoe House Bow, Crediton, Devon EX17 6JT
Instagram – Facebook – Twitter
The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.