Paschoe House by Lauren Heath

There’s a new kid in town, well west of the city, and it’s called Paschoe House.

Having been a family home for the Amadors since 2000, daughter Tabitha decided the buildings future was as a hotel and wedding venue and, along with her father, has worked very hard for around 5 years to get it to where it is today with a bigger push over the last year. We recently shared their news of the appointment of Alex Gibbs as their head chef.

I visited in September to try their foodie offering on behalf of Crumbs Magazine (write up due out early October), for whom I am a guest writer.  The hotel had only been open a couple of weeks so I was open minded as to how the evening would go and what level of finish and service there would be. It was also my birthday so I felt very lucky with the timing!

With autumn fully on its way, the sun had already set by the time we arrived for our dinner but the warm glow exuding from the building gave me a good feeling inside of what was to come.

The open entrance hall with soft pink tones and beautiful grey geometric tiled floor caught my eye instantly along with the obvious connection to this Grade II  listed buildings heritage as well as the current outdoor pursuits on offer, thanks to the taxidermy animal heads dotted about.

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The ostrich on the wall in the gorgeous duck egg blue lounge bar is something to behold – ostriches are a firm memory of my South African childhood (my brother even raced on one once as a child) – and I was both taken a back and fascinated by this specimen coming out of the wall.  I guess it’s a bit like art – there to create conversation and a different interpretation for everyone.  In the end I grew quite used to him whilst we enjoyed our drinks and delightful trio of pre-dinner canapes in this comfortable and suave space, his black and white plumage proudly showing off.

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This may not be to everyone’s taste but I can assure you the dining room is animal free. The dining room itself is of a much more masculine stature; rich dark turquoise wallpaper with silver geometric design that bounces the light gently, matching suede chairs, original fireplace, understated chandeliers and crisp white linens bringing it together.

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Connected to the lounge bar was a sitting area with original fireplace, walls adorned in butterfly wallpaper with a fabulous purple settees. Certainly a room that would cheer you up on even the greyest damp winter day whilst cosying up to the fire with a good book and a drink. Saying that, with the outdoor activities on offer here, you could don your mac and head out instead and embrace it – it is amongst 25 acres of land after all, on the edge of the Two Moors Way footpath.

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A broad staircase crowned with antler chandelier leads you to 9 beautiful bedrooms, all with a different personality; it’s all about style and comfort for the staying guests but they are also geared up for weddings, boasting a lovely conservatory room for such event and plenty of lawns and acreage for exploration and photo opportunities. The venue is open to non-residents too of course, for lunch, dinner or even afternoon tea as a reward, for a special occasion, general good behaviour or to relax after a long walk.

Anywho – let’s get on to the good stuff – the food!

Evening menu choices include a three course a la carte menu for £50 with six choices for each course, or you could opt for the no holds barred six course taster menu for £65 where you can technically have twice the food (2 x 3 = 6 see what I’m saying?), maths aside, you don’t have to miss out and you can have a bit of everything.

We dived into starters of salmon mi-cuit with beetroot, horseradish, lemon and mustard  and Devon scallops with pea, bacon, black pudding and shallot; both fishy friends were cooked perfectly, surrounded by flavours that respected yet enhanced every mouthful, and I declare that I have found the best black pudding I’ve tried so far, thanks to local supplier Pipers Farm.

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Spiced Creedy Carver duck breast with heritage carrot, confit leg and duck sauce as well as lightly salted hake, clam, broad bean, sweet pea and beurre blanc were next in line. A plump duck breast and a crunchy bon bon were happily living side by side – until I devoured them with gusto. The hake was a delicate yet meaty dish that was respected by not being over complicated and was cooked beautifully.

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Pudding was described in four words – milk chocolate, banana and hazelnut; I was intrigued! A generous pudding of unctuous milk chocolate cream, with added textures of a mille feuille type pastry layers and sticky bananas – it was sooo good.

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I was then delighted by a little birthday treat of petit fours and birthday wishes – the macarons were delicately crispy , flavoursome and as light as air!

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I had a quick chat with Alex, who was happy to have some of his previous brigade with him, front and back of house, and it showed – service was excellent, relaxed yet professional and they really were a knowledgeable and smooth team for such a new opening. In this demanding industry, experience and good leadership really does show.

Sadly we couldn’t stay that evening, but it’s on my list for a child free night! Being only 20 minutes west of Exeter, you can find this new country house hotel retreat waiting to embrace you – and I urge you to let it.

Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton, EX17 6JT

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10 Questions with John Burton Race – by Lauren Heath

John Burton Race is well known for being a passionate chef with a reputation that precedes him.

Having worked under chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, back in the 80’s, and gaining his first Michelin star whilst heading up the restaurant and kitchen, he has since moved to France and back, had books published, worked in television and owned and run his own restaurant ventures. In 2016 he co-founded a private catering venture, Two Grumpy Chefs, with Totnes based chef Chris Shervill.

With one of his previous restaurant ventures being in Dartmouth, he previously lived in Devon from 2004 to 2010 and he has now returned to enjoy the quiet that Devon’s countryside has to offer whilst enjoying an exciting and busy role with Richardson Hotel Group.

At the end of 2016, it was announced that he would be heading up the kitchen and restaurant at the newly refurbished The Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay – also with a reputation that precedes it, the hotel with a haphazard owner was the star of a Channel 4 television show, called The Hotel. A match made in heaven you may say.

At the end of the day, chefs work incredibly long hours in a job they do more for love than money, otherwise they wouldn’t do it – so passion and drive is what’s needed and can often be mistaken for a difficult personality (I too, am married to a chef, and I know how passionate they can be). Either way, whatever drives John – it works.

We thoroughly enjoyed his incredible food and delightful service at the refurbished Grosvenor earlier this year, which you can read here.

In between John Burton-Race wrestling with lobsters, and dishing out divine Michelin level food, he was kind enough to answer 10 questions for us:

1 – In your spare time (probably rare, we realise) what do you like to do to relax?

Fishing, walking, riding and shooting.

2 – With nearly a decade since your last cookbook, any plans for another on the horizon?

Yes, I’d love to write a new cook book and base it on my dishes at the Grosvenor.

3 – The Grosvenor was the venue for Channel 4’s infamous show ‘The Hotel’ with the funny but hap-hazard Mark Jenkins; did you ever watch it and, if so, is it strange being there?

No, I never watched the show nor have I met Mark Jenkins. However, I am aware that it used to have somewhat of a reputation, this however has already changed.

4 – As seen on the telly, the hotel has great potential with the event room, large restaurant, bar area and swimming pool. Are you looking forward to the variety of menus you can offer?

Yes, absolutely and new menus for all occasions are in place.

5 – I love a well laid out kitchen, and some mighty stainless steel.  With a complete redesign of the kitchen, what is your favourite piece or gadget or is there something you’ve had put in that you’ve always wanted?

I have lots of gadgets but my favourite has to be my water baths and my Paco-Jet.

JBR (27 of 53)

6 – Is there a seasonal favourite, old favourite or signature dish that you hope to put on the menu?

All of my dishes are my favourite dishes, however, I am a self-confessed chocoholic, therefore something chocolate will be at the top of my list.

7 – My husband and I enjoyed being guests on Market Kitchen in 2009 when you were cooking a brown shrimp dish with Tom Parker Bowles; do you miss doing television or is it too tiring in comparison to the adrenaline of the kitchen?

I love doing television and hopefully will do some more in the future. It’s a different type of pressure, but I love it.

8 – We shared your news about the hunt for some talent for your kitchen team, how’s that going?

The Hunt is going really well, in fact there are only two positions that I need to fill now.

9 – Once you have a great team in place, are you still hoping to fit in your private catering Two Grumpy Chefs occasionally?

Occasionally. Possibly.

10 – It must be refreshing that Richardson Hotels Group is privately owned, with just a few well picked establishments here in Devon and Cornwall.  How did the opportunity come about?

Mr Richardson found me. And what a treasure he found! (I think he was contacted by my agent, Sue Hesketh)

Thanks to John for his time and answers; we highly recommend you hot foot it down to Torquay and sample his tasty offerings!

*Photos courtesy of Richardson Hotel Group.

 

Ex Royal Clarence chef heads up restaurant at new luxury Devon hotel

BRAND new Devon luxury hotel and events venue Paschoe House has appointed Alex Gibbs as Executive Head Chef.

The stunning 10-bedroom manor house on the edge of Crediton throws open its doors to the public for the first time in its 800 year history this month.

And Tabitha Amador-Christie, Owner of Paschoe House, believes her new chef will play a vital role in the hotel’s success.

Alex Gibbs and Tabitha Amador Christie. Picture credit Neil Gratton Photography
Alex Gibbs & Tabitha Amador-Christie; Image Copyright of Neil Gratton Photography

She says: ‘Alex has an excellent reputation. I am excited about his creativity in the kitchen and can’t wait to see what delights he and his team produce from our brand new kitchen at Paschoe House.

’Alex previously held the position of Executive Head Chef at The Royal Clarence in Exeter. He sadly lost his job when the world famous hotel and restaurant burned down in October 2016.

‘All the staff from The Royal Clarence, many of whom had worked together for years and years, became unemployed overnight. It was soul-destroying, not to mention incredibly sad, to watch the venue that we’d loved, burn to the ground,’ says Alex.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and it was a supplier whom Alex had known for a number of years, who suggested that he contact the owners of Paschoe House, a brand new restaurant, hotel and events venue near Crediton who were looking to serve beautifully cooked, locally sourced food from their country house base.

He adds: ‘As soon as I heard about Paschoe House, I realised that this was exactly where I wanted to be. I fired off my CV and met the owner that same week. We open shortly, and I’m currently busy setting up the kitchen and creating our menu.’

So, what is it about Paschoe House that makes it such an appealing prospect for a chef such as Alex?

Alex Gibbs at Paschoe House. Picture credit Neil Gratton Photography
Image Copyright of Neil Gratton Photography

‘At the moment we’re busy planting up our kitchen garden, so it’s wonderful to be part of something from the very beginning. I have the opportunity to create the sort of menu that will make the food at Paschoe House stand out from its competitors, and that is very exciting indeed.’

Tabitha adds: ‘As soon as I heard from Alex, I knew that I’d be a fool not to appoint him as our new head chef. The food at The Royal Clarence had such an excellent reputation, so I knew that we’d be in safe hands.’

For more information about Paschoe House visit the website at www.paschoehouse.co.uk

The Magdalen Chapter, Magdalen Road

Being a student means that I don’t often have the chance to visit fine dining restaurants, not just due to the high prices but as the vast majority of my friends are also students, the opportunity doesn’t pass me by all too often. So when I was invited to lunch at The Magdalen Chapter, one of Exeter’s most exclusive restaurants, for an old work friends hen party, I couldn’t wait to sample the food.

The first things you notice upon arriving at the hotel is how unlike a hotel it actually is! Entering the former eye hospital you’re first greeted by some amazing contemporary art work, which spans the extent of the hotel. My favourite piece was a fantastic collage of a spoon made from beauty advertisements, which I was advised by one of the staff, depicted the way in which women were spoon fed societal values by the media. I thought this was great, supporting original artists and something a little different!

The hotel cradles a beautiful court yard, complemented by the glorious Devon sunshine, which is over looked by their stylish, glass panelled restaurant. As we were a large party we had a private room at the front of the building which was modern and spacious. The room held a wide wooden table which was a perfect fit for the 15 of us, meaning we could all interact and no one was left stranded at the end of a table.

We kicked off the festivities with drinks in the lounge bar. As the sun was shining I opted for the customary summer Pimms (£5). The tall drink was served with freshly sliced strawberries, cucumber and mint, which, I know this may sound silly, made the glass really refreshing and flavoursome, opposed to some bars which will chuck in fruit which you can tell has been sitting around for days. Most of my fellow diners chose exciting looking cocktails (£8) from the extensive menu which included an exotic range of fruity concoctions.

After a few moments exploring the grounds with drinks we were shown to our seats in our private room by our server for the day. The service was brilliant and was one of the elements of the day which really stood out for me. Our water glasses were repeatedly filled, nothing was too much to ask but also they weren’t too over bearing which I have found in the past in more expensive restaurants. We were left to enjoy ourselves with our own space, without feeling we were being watched over.

The lunch menu was concise but included a trail of appetising flavours. At first I was tempted by the monkfish stew but ended up going for the spinach and ricotta gnocchi served with roasted tomatoes and courgette, topped with Parmesan and pine nuts (£12). After ordering the plates arrived at our tables within 20 minutes. Whilst waiting I tried the bread on the table which was beautiful in itself as the crust was baked with herbs and sea salt.

EE RecommendsThe gnocchi dish was absolutely delicious. The spinach and ricotta gnocchi was slightly gooey from the cheese so had a pleasing texture and was complemented well by the crunch of the courgette and pine nuts. I was apprehensive that the gnocchi may of been a little dry as it wasn’t served with a sauce,  however the juice from the plump cherry tomatoes served that purpose well. My fellow guests meals all looked and sounded great as well. The flat iron steak served with chips and roast tomato was cooked to perfection, and the roast chicken topped with chickpeas and chard smelt delicious.

I honestly couldn’t fault The Magdalen Chapter for the food, service or even price. Although many of the meals were way beyond my normal price range (my gnocchi was modestly priced compared to other dishes) I believe the excellent quality of food and first class service make it worth while. I would highly recommend the restaurant for a special occasion and I will be pestering my boyfriend to take me for a nights stay in the gorgeous hotel until he breaks!

To read more from Kathryn, head over to http://adayinmyshoeskathryn.blogspot.co.uk/ and subscribe to her wonderful blog 🙂

http://www.themagdalenchapter.com/

Magdalen Street, Exeter, EX2 4HY

Telephone 01392 281000
Email: magdalen@chapterhotels.com

 

Magdalen Chapter Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Highbullen Hotel, Golf & Country Club: Part 1

In the life of a food blogger, the chance to go outside of the box is rare.  But recently we were given the opportunity to visit one of Devon’s most luxurious destinations to experience what happens between the walls and hedges at The Highbullen Hotel, Golf & Country Club at Chittlehamholt in North Devon.

The hotel is steadily becoming one of the top destinations in North Devon and its easy to see why.  Its remote location, 18-hole USGA specification golf course and superior views, and taking in Exmoor, Dartmoor and down the Mole Valley, make Highbullen the ideal getaway for urbanites, golfers and a leisure destination for locals too.  It has recently been featured in The North Devon JournalDevon Life and Horse & Countryside after its 2013 renovation.

Built in 1879 by Exeter architect William Moore, its architecture is strongly influenced by Phillip Webb who was considered the father of Arts & Crafts architecture.  Built from stone quarried on the 125 acre estate, it remained the Moore family home for forty years.
In the Second World War it housed an evacuated girls private school, then in 1963 it was bought by Hugh and Pam Neil who turned it in to a foodie destination that attracted some top names such as Delia Smith, who became a regular visitor to The Cellar Bar in the seventies.  Some of Pam Neil’s (the founding chef) recipes appeared in Delia’s recipe books, and after their children Collette and Martin Neil (the actor) took over the reins, it continued its popularity as a destination for good food and its fantastic remote location.  Legend has it that Laurence Olivier used to pretend to be a barman and serve guests who didn’t recognise who he was.

In 2012 it was bought by the timeshare pioneer Frank Chapman and now with the help of his daughter Susie Gowenlock, they have reincarnated the Arts & Crafts glory days from the bottom up.  After a £1.4 million pound refurbishment, the hotel has risen from the ashes and now they’re ready to show exactly what luxury is all about.

You could be forgiven for walking in and that you have stepped through the doors in to someone’s front room, or you are about to take a tour around a National Trust property.  The ‘hotelness’ of the decor is minimal, and the staff who looked after reception were all about smart casual, no stuffy uniforms, no feeling that we were anything but welcome.  We were greeted by the Restaurant Manager, Douglas Muir who would give us a tour of the estate but first we needed to settle in to our room.  And boy…what a room!

There are 36 rooms dotted across the estate that are bookable, 11 in The Manor House which are all given names to reflect the history of the room.  Each room is designed to be individual, classically styled with a modern twist and we were lucky enough to stay in the Chinoiserie Room which overlooked the croquet lawn and the golf course.  With a turn to the left, you could see down the valley to the hills beyond.  Wherever you go in Highbullen, you cannot escape the views.

The four poster bed in white and gold was massive, double king or emperor size maybe? I could finally realise the joy of actually getting lost in a bed. A fine large bathroom and a large antique wardrobe with a wall mounted LCD TV topped off a very impressive room.

Douglas, the Restaurant Manager took us over to The Pavilion to show us some of the facilities that the Highbullen offers.  We also got a chance to talk to Head Chef Dean Griffin who was preparing to cook Fish & Chips for a party of 35 golfers!   Dean was recently appointed Head Chef and oversees the food at Highbullen’s five food outlets.  “It’s all about getting the local community on board” Dean mentions when I ask him about the ingredients and sources that he is able to use in this part of the world.  Fish comes fresh from a seller in St Ives, dairy and vegetables come from sources close by and bread is baked, where possible, on site.

The Pavilion includes a fully equipped gym, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and bar area called The Club Bar that offers reasonably priced pub style food.  All of which are all open to locals as well, as are the restaurants and the golf course itself.  And Highbullen wouldn’t be a Country Club if you couldn’t shoot (clay and live), fish, play croquet and tennis.  The remote location is perfect for walkers who want to walk around the surrounding countryside or even Dartmoor or Exmoor.
The Pavilion hosts functions and an ever increasing amount of wedding evenings/receptions  in The Brasserie, but also acts as the place to go for the Sunday Carvery including the ‘Dip n Dine’ where the cost of a swim and the carvery is included together.  Douglas mentioned that Highbullen Hotel is in the middle of building The Forum which will allow these sorts of functions to take place separately and will allow more guests and the creation of a Health Centre which will greatly widen the hotel’s appeal.

And you can’t accuse Highbullen of not trying to widen their appeal.  Recently they created two new packages that would certainly appeal to dog-lovers and bike-lovers alike.

Hounds at Highbullen lets dog owners bring along their dog and provides the following:

  • In-room dog basket with blanket and lead
  • Two course “Dogs Dinner” of Chicken Casserole followed by Sirloin Steak with Vegetables and Jus
  • Doggie bag of toys and treats tailored to size of dog (small, medium or large) including brush, toy, treats, bag for waste and a tennis ball
  • Exmoor walking map
  • Two nights for two owners on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis

And their Cycling Package looks like this:

  • 2 night’s accommodation
  • Dinner each night in the Devon View Restaurant
  • A hearty Devon breakfast each morning
  • Cycle routes
  • Cycle clean
  • Packed lunch on one day and 2 £10 lunch vouchers to use on the other
  • 2 rounds of golf

Our tour took us next to The Cellar Bar and The Devon View Restaurant.  Like the rest of the hotel, these have both been given a makeover and look fabulous.  Unfortunately The Devon View Restaurant was set-up for the wedding the next morning, but happily enough The Cellar Bar was in full swing.  In my next post I’ll talk more about the food and the breakfast with photos and me writing the word ‘mmmm’ a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magdalen Chapter Launches Signature Sausage Supper

Eating Exeter has some exciting and tasty news!

AJ Butchery's 'Magdalen Boerwors'
Food lovers are in for a real treat at The Magdalen Chapter in Exeter, which has teamed up with Devon’s leading sausage experts, Andrew James Butchery (was Turtons of Devon up to recently), to add a ‘Magdalen Boerwors’ to its bar menu.

The South African-inspired sausage has been made using a bespoke recipe created for the boutique hotel. It is the result of a new collaboration between head chef, Ben Bulger, and the local sausage specialists who supply top chefs around the country.

Packed with the highest quality beef and pork, guests can bite into the expertly spiced Boerwors – the name comes from the Afrikaans words boer(farmer) and wors (sausage) – and enjoy it with a bottle of locally-brewed Otter Ale from the Honiton brewery for just £10.

Head chef, Ben Bulger, says: “We are thrilled to be adding this new dish to our menu. The Magdalen Boerwors is big in flavour and Steve Turton at Andrew James Butchery has created this sausage especially for us, to our own specific design.

Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery
Head chef Ben Bulger (left) with Steve Turton of AJ Butchery

“We have worked with Steve since the day we re-opened in 2012, and it’s this quality service, which goes the extra mile, that makes us fiercely loyal to him. We know we are offering the best possible, locally-sourced meals to our guests”.

“I’m really excited to be cooking this dish and I hope and expect it will prove a real hit with everyone who orders it.”

Established in Exeter in 1962, Andrew James Butchery is a third generation family-run business based in Cullompton. Expertly creating sausages using authentic recipes, Andrew James Butchery supplies sausages with only the finest ingredients. All meat is sourced and can be traced back to Farm Assured UK farms.

Director and Master Butcher, Steve Turton, says: “We are delighted to be working with Ben once again and are proud to offer the people of Devon a dish that’s completely unique.”

“We only use quality meat, and this has been the family ethos since my mother and father started the business in the 60’s. The origin of our meat is of the utmost importance and that; combined with the talents of Ben and his team, means we can truly showcase a great Devonshire dish.”

Available from March onwards the Magdalen Boerwors meal and a bottle of Otter Ale can be enjoyed for just £10. Table reservations at The Magdalen Chapter can be booked by calling 01392 281000.

The Magdalen Chapter has a Twitter account too!