As we know, 2020 has certainly been a year of strain and challenges in the hospitality industry but in turn many venues have shown great resilience and innovation; one such venue has been Rockbeare Manor.
Situated on the outskirts of Exeter, a successful exclusive wedding and event only venue, Rockbeare Manor is a Grade 1 Regency manor house and has opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 260 year history due to the current COVID climate limiting their industry.
Following the lockdown, the initial ban on weddings and then the following restrictions on numbers attending events, owners Andy and Aimée Carveth of PM Hospitality, decided to adapt their offering to open the Grade I Regency manor house up to guests. Now people can book for dinner or take in the delights of the house and 100 acres of parkland, with a ‘dine, stay and unwind’ break.
‘Whilst we have been able to host small weddings, we wanted to offer something which would ensure we could keep our wonderful venue busy by entertaining guests – which is what beautiful properties like ours were originally built for. It also gives us the best chance to retain our fantastic team, which is very important to us. It’s been so well received and wonderful to see couples who were married at Rockbeare Manor return and stay with us. We’ve also had lots of people curious to see the house and enjoy the amazing, high quality food our chefs have created for this special menu.’Aimée Carveth
Rockbeare have been open in this way successfully since August and we were invited to experience dinner back in November, but Lockdown 2.0 put the brakes on our visit, so we couldn’t wait until our new mid-December date. They are planning to continue until the end of January (maybe Valentines if you’re lucky…) and you can enjoy Friday or Saturday dinner, Sunday lunch and even add to the experience by staying overnight.
At the end of the meandering long drive a manor of this proportion deserves, we followed the lit pathway towards the glow that was emanating from this majestic building, and were welcomed into her warm bosom, greeted by the face masks we’re now all accustomed to, sadly hiding many a hospitality smile but thankfully with smiling eyes. A roaring fire, velvet sofas and gorgeous Christmas tree filled the beautiful entrance.
We were led upstairs to another equally gorgeous room for our pre-dinner drinks whilst we browsed the menu. The room would normally be where the bridal party get ready and with floor to ceiling windows, a crystal chandelier, incredible regency detailing yet with a modern touch – I can imagine this room to be exquisite when filled with glorious daylight filled windows, nerves as well as laughter on a brides most important day.
Time for dinner! Now, usually a manor experience can be fairly quiet and reserved, you feel you need to be on your best behaviour whilst delicious but petite food is served. This of course, is what some people enjoy, but for me I’m pleased to say this was not the case at Rockbeare Manor. I sat in my window seat on a plump cushion base, observing the whole room before me (I love people watching) and listened to the lovely gentle chatter from the other dining couples with soft but jazzy music in the background. The dining room continued the grandeur and glamour of the rest of the building but it felt really relaxed and comfortable with service to match.
Onto the food…. with great quality produce from the likes of Dart Fresh, Greendale Farm Shop, Westcountry Meat Box, Salcombe Dairy and Country Cheeses, Topsham, we had high hopes for what the chefs would create.
- Canapés of chicken & chorizo terrine and mushroom aranci
- Spiced butternut and parsnip soup (not pictured)
- Turkey, leek and chestnut terrine with cranberry chutney
Delectable bites to get our taste buds tantalised, the soup was smooth, well spiced and hearty and the terrine was a handsome slice of tender meat with a well judged sweet chutney for contrast and pea shoots, rocket and nuts for texture.
- Rump of Devon beef, confit tomatoes, watercress pesto with a balsamic jus and a side of triple cooked chips
- Creedy Carver chicken supreme, gratin potatoes, parma ham crisp, savoy cabbage and tarragon veloute
The chicken was a tender triumph with a top notch soft potato gratin and delightful flavours and textures supporting it, the beef cooked medium rare as requested was chargrilled and with some of the tastiest chips I’ve had in a while (crispy outer, fluffy middle, no oiliness!) with plenty of fresh greens to add freshness.
- Warm chocolate fondant, hazelnut praline, raspberries and clotted cream ice cream – we both had one!
Well what a finale… this little chocolate bomb was everything we’d hoped for – soft outer, oozy middle, tart raspberries, creamy Salcombe Dairy clotted cream ice cream, a nutty sugary sensation of a brittle and some lemony herbage for a fresh dimension.
You can stay overnight too if you want to add to the experience…. with 13 rooms to choose from.
With 100 acres of grounds to explore, cosy fireplaces to hunker down beside, a billiard room to show off your ball skills plus the relaxing yet sumptuous feel of the offering, you can certainly let 2020’s stresses and strains fade away for a while.
We had a really lovely date night, the first in quite a long time!
Rockbeare Manor is perfect for a couples treat, a family household Sunday lunch and explore (children welcome), or a mini break staycation. Relax in the run up to Christmas, escape and let someone else do the cooking post-Christmas or even a perfect option for those lucky couples wanting to celebrate a Christmas or New Year engagement!
As we left the manor, into the night air, with stones crunching under our feet we felt reinvigorated and spoiled… which is exactly what great hospitality should do. Don’t delay, snap this opportunity up before it goes back to those lucky brides, grooms and event organisers!
Dine, Stay and Unwind:
Two course dinner is £35, three course dinner £45 – running until the end of January. Sunday lunch is £29.50 per adult, £14.50 per child – last one 20th December. Dining info: https://www.rockbearemanor.co.uk/dine-stay-unwind/dine-with-us/
£280 per couple (Inclusive price for two guests) includes overnight stay for two, in one of the luxurious bedroom suites, mulled wine and mini mince-pies on arrival, three course à la carte menu with coffee and sumptuous breakfast: https://www.rockbearemanor.co.uk/dine-stay-unwind/
Rockbeare Manor, Nr Exeter, EX5 2FE
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The meal provided in this review was gratis. Views expressed are independent of the business and is not seen or approved before publication.