Ta­ble-hop­ping

Olive - - Contents -

Our new­est restau­rant rec­om­men­da­tions

Given its en­vi­able lo­ca­tion (with one of the best, sweep­ing views in Devon, over the mouth of the River Exe), Lympstone Manor open­ing as a ho­tel, back in April, would’ve been highly an­tic­i­pated re­gard­less. But, with chef Michael Caines at the helm – who held two Miche­lin stars at nearby Gi­dleigh Park for 18 years out of his 21-year ten­ure – this was the big­gest open­ing in Devon in re­cent years. While Michael’s known for hav­ing his fin­gers in many a South West pie, it’s clear Lympstone’s his (plump, well-fed) baby. The Grade II Ge­or­gian manor house, set in a mod­est 28 acres, has been ren­o­vated to as con­tem­po­rary luxe as it gets – plush soft grey, beige and creams run through­out the lounges and three din­ing halls, while the rooms are named af­ter the birds that share the es­tu­ary as their home. (Ours had gold bath tubs you’ll never want to pull your­self out of and a wel­come tray of Chase gin and Fever Tree ton­ics.) The food is the un­apolo­get­i­cally fi­nessed French that Michael’s renowned for – so ex­pect rich flavours and pe­tit por­tions. Fans will recog­nise sig­na­ture dishes such as a melt­ing white cho­co­late can­dle, and an or­ange and cho­co­late par­fait that looks just like the fruit it­self. Get the tast­ing menu for Michael’s best hits – deca­dent in­gre­di­ents are treated with a light hand. On our visit, lan­gous­tine found it­self in silky can­nel­loni, with a vi­brant sauce vierge lifted with lemon­grass and gin­ger. A de­con­structed quail’s egg tart­let, light-as-air pas­try topped with onion and truf­fle con­fit and per­fectly sym­met­ri­cal fried eggs, com­peted with pan-fried duck liver with or­ange-braised chicory, caramelised wal­nuts and fat, mar­i­nated raisins for our favourite dish of the night. Ser­vice is white-table­cloth for­mal and wine match­ing is clas­sic and safe. Lympstone might be the new kid on the fine-din­ing block but ex­pect a tra­di­tional hos­pi­tal­ity re­fined by Michael Caines and his sleek team over decades. (Words by Laura Rowe)

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