No re­grets at The Rail­way

ANDY COOPER is de­lighted to dis­cover a change of home for a well-known chef is breath­ing fresh life into a for­mer favourite spot

Devon Life - - Promotion -

The life of a food re­viewer in Devon is pretty much one of un­al­loyed plea­sure, tinged with the odd mo­ment of re­gret. I can blather on to any­one who is still awake and lis­ten­ing just what a fab­u­lous food and drink of­fer­ing we have across the county right now. The good def­i­nitely out­weighs the bad.

And the re­grets? Well, a few ‘dodgy’ mo­ments of mostly in­dif­fer­ent ser­vice or naff meals, but mainly my dis­ap­point­ments have been more in the na­ture of great chefs mov­ing on to pas­tures new or venues clos­ing be­fore I have had a chance to re­turn – or even get there in the first place.

This was cer­tainly the case with Café Cata­lan, the pop­u­lar bistro in Mag­dalen Road, Ex­eter, which I just didn’t man­aged to get to un­til the clo­sure signs went up. I was truly dis­ap­pointed not to get to try the food from what looked like an amaz­ing menu. Num­bers don’t lie ei­ther – it al­ways seemed to be packed out when I walked past.

An­other culi­nary dis­ap­point­ment for me was the clo­sure of The Rail­way in Honi­ton. I had en­joyed many a fine meal there and it was a sad­ness that the spot closed down sud­denly last year.

Imag­ine my de­light then when I re­ceived an e-mail from Paul Green­head, for­mer owner of Café Cata­lan, an­nounc­ing he and wife Beth were mov­ing to The Rail­way to re-open it. Now, that’s what you call an op­por­tune switch!

So it wasn’t too long be­fore we found our­selves buzzing over to Honi­ton to try the ‘new’ Rail­way. The in­te­rior – al­ways bright and wel­com­ing – didn’t seem to have changed much be­cause it didn’t need to but a lot else had. And for the bet­ter, even on my pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences of the place, which were all good. From the fan­tas­ti­cally well-ap­pointed bar to a menu which mixes el­e­ments of clas­sics with lovely in­di­vid­ual touches, this is a restau­rant which knows what it is do­ing, as you would ex­pect with Paul and Beth’s ex­pert touch.

A ‘pesci’ like me was al­ways go­ing to love a venue which boats a spe­cials board just for a se­lec­tion of fresh fish dishes and so it was that I de­lighted in roast red snap­per with herb cous­cous and spiced mango salsa. So very good and a clear sign this is a kitchen with con­fi­dence. The trout fil­let on crushed new po­ta­toes with ca­pers and sam­phire beurre blanc en­joyed by my part­ner merely con­firmed this.

Com­fort­ably en­sconced in the place after a busy few months, Paul has now in­tro­duced a new menu fea­tur­ing such de­lights as curry-spiced mus­sel frit­ters, rab­bit braised in white wine or Cat­alo­nian pasta cooked with south­ern Moor­ish spices.

The Rail­way also of­fers lovely rooms up­stairs as well, so you can stay over and make a real treat of it. And a true treat it is. This is a restau­rant which has given a chef who al­ready had a fab­u­lous rep­u­ta­tion an even big­ger can­vas to paint on. And the culi­nary mas­ter­pieces forth­com­ing should make that a real draw for all proper food­ies.

Din­ing out across the county with Devon Life’s writ­ers

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