Cover photo credit at the end of the blog post
Tiverton lies within reach of the dramatic North Devon coast, the rolling majesty of Dartmoor and the fossil laden cliffs of South & East Devon. Being in the middle, it makes Tiverton and Mid Devon a good choice to stay when visiting our gorgeous county.
Located in the small village of Huntsham – just a few miles from Tiverton – this elegant country house not normally open for guests as it is a prime destination for hosting weddings and events. However with the pandemic, this historic venue is diversifying and adapting.
Huntsham Court has created the Huntsham Court Pop-up Hotel, allowing paying guests to come and stay in one of their gorgeous rooms. Dining is hosted by The Milkshed Kitchen, created by Milkshed Catering who are long-standing partners of Huntsham Court, normally providing food for many weddings that take place there. If you’re looking for a winter getaway, Huntsham Court is an absolute must, not just because the venue is comfortable, welcoming and the food is excellent, but because this experience will only last until February 2021 and is an absolute one-of-a-kind opportunities for visitors.
It is a Grade II listed country house. Built in 1870, it was designed by Benjamin Ferrey, a student of famous Victorian architect Augustus Pugin. Ferrey built a few houses throughout his career but he is mostly remembered for an extensive repertoire of church design and restoration. Huntsham’s kitchens are rather unique, being octagonal in shape, based on Glastonbury Abbey’s very own kitchens.
Huntsham became a hotel in 1978 and it was accepting guests until 2004. During this time, it accepted many famous guests including one that particularly resonates with me. Douglas Adams stayed for ten weeks in 1984 as he was writing his iconic novel So Long And Thanks For All The Fish; according to his biographer, he had intended to visit to spend time writing the novel, but got distracted by expensive wine instead. In the front of the book, there is a dedication to Huntsham Court and it’s owners. Fair play.
Getting to Huntsham is easy. It’s close to the M5 and a matter of minutes away from the North Devon Link road. In previous reviews I have spoken about visiting country house hotels, and the very real feeling of excitement when you approach the house from the drive, the car tyres coming to a rest on the loose crunchy gravel. That feeling was definitely there again.
The fact it was dark and raining outside just enhanced the cosiness of Huntsham. There is something exceptionally special about visiting a country house near Christmas. The beautiful large tree, the decorations gives a certain richness to the experience.
Our greeting was as warm as the roaring fire – the first thing that meets the eye are the large luxurious sofas, the gorgeous wood paneling (some of which is Tudor in origin from the original pre-Victorian building), the sky high Christmas tree and a tasteful elegance that a destination like Huntsham exudes.
The following meal was a review meal. There was no cost to Dining Devon.
After we were seated, we were treated to an Amuse-bouche of Truffle-set Chicken Veloutte. A sensual cylinder of alluring and flavourful smooth chicken and truffle pieces.
Our menu for tonight looked like this:
Kiln Roasted Salmon served with compressed marinated cucumber and flying fish roe
Venison and chicken liver terrine served with red onion marmalede & toasted brioche
Roast Guinea Fowl served with Brussel sprouts, pancetta lardons, potato and celeriac dauphonoise, sumac sauce
Oven baked Trout served with leeks, parsnip, baby beetroot, marsala and rosemary cream
Vanilla and Contreau Creme Brulee served with glazed figs and orange shortbread
Christmas pudding served with gingerbread crumb and clotted cream ice cream
I love salmon. Unfortunately there is no shared love of salmon in our household, so when I get to have salmon in any form, I head straight for that. This was an expertly cooked piece of fish, with a punchy smoky flavour that contrasted nicely with the compressed cucumber.
Tori’s Terrine was a delightful meaty slab, served with a lovely crispy brioche. She is a fan of patte and this scored well from her side of the table.
My main course was a flavourful trout with leeks, parsnip and an eclectic palette that worked well together. The trout was cooked well and flaked off beautifully. The taste of trout is more meaty than fishy as it’s a freshwater fish, and this worked really well with the vegetables.
Tori had a guinea fowl; it was the first time she’d ever had one and from all accounts, it won’t be the last. She is a big fan of brussels sprouts, so this was a definite winner.
Our meal this evening included a dessert as well. I am not always the first to have dessert, but after these I am glad I did. Because it’s Christmas, I had to go for the Christmas pudding. It had little popping candy on the top and was served with a silky clotted cream ice cream, with gingerbread crumb. I had great joy loading up the spoon with cream, crumb and pudding in different sequences; each mouthful was slightly different, yet equally as flavoursome.
Tori had a classic Creme Brulee that had a good crack to the shell. It was sweet and smooth, and the orange shortbread was soft as cloud.
A visit to Huntsham as a diner is perfect for a date night; the dining space is an intimate and cosy atmosphere that lends itself to snuggling up in one of the gigantic cosy sofas after a relaxing meal. As the curfew restrictions currently apply, then you can’t stay too late, but the roaring fires make this a perfect night away. If you’re visiting from outside of the area, or if you fancy a stay-cation, then Huntsham has a lot to offer for visitors and locals alike who want to stay a couple of nights (minimum stay).
The three course menu that we had this evening was £39.50 per head.
We all need a bit of cheering up after a year that has been, without a shadow of a doubt, utterly shockingly crap for everyone in one way or another. Those of us who thrive on going out, being around others and take a lot of support from friends and seeing those we love outside of our house, this has been an immensely challenging time. In the new year, let us hope we can start seeing more of those we love.
The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.
Booking & Info
If you wish to book a table for dinner (Wednesday to Saturday night’s only) then visit the Huntsham Court website here to get more information and place a booking.
If you fancy an overnight stay, then visit the Huntsham Court booking page here.
Follow Huntsham Court on their social media
Follow Milkshed Catering on their social media
Cover photo courtesy of Boddah at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons -This image has been adjusted. Vignette added. Colour reduction. Exposure reduction.
Boddah, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – unadjusted