Review: Mind-blowing food and service at one of Devon's finest restaurants. Michael Caines' influence is clear, effective and tasty!
Michael Caines has been a hero of mine ever since he first came to my attention on TV all those years ago. Since then he's continued his successful career, recently being brought on-board to give stellar operational support and advice to The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange, now renamed The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange. Quite a mouthful, but worth checking out for sure, and here's why.
We travelled there during our honeymoon to Devon, and being slightly more on a budget than usual this restaurant fitted the bill perfectly. Not cheap by normal standards, but Gidleigh Park was out of our budget for accommodation.
Kentisbury Grange is in Devon, and as such ridiculously far from almost everywhere, especially London where we have so much choice it's hard to pick.
The Coach House by Miachael Caines though is a great addition to a fine hotel, and we were both looking forward to a good meal after spending a couple of days on the beautiful but fairly barren island of Lundy.
Before I mention the food, the service should also get a mention, it was superb. Polite, interested and interesting without prying - very knowledgeable about the wines, food, history of the restaurant and even the plate supplier! (I'm always after good stoneware).
We arrived to a lovely glass of bubbly, honeymoons really are great for living the life. Michael Caines even does his own brut champers!
Goats cheese, beetroot, beautiful light crispy white fish with tartar sauce. Great little start and went well with the sparkles, and certainly a sign of good things to come.
Pea and mint velouté with pea oil and chives was, just like it's name-sake, velvety smooth. The flavours were bang on for that beautifully sweet just-shelled peas and my wife who doesn't like peas, is now a convert to pea and mint soup - success!
Freshly crisp bread, with a lovely warm flavour, slightly darker flour used with a satisfying crunch to the crust.
Devon quail perfectly roasted and a sweetness balanced well with the very savoury soft boiled quail's egg. herb purée mixed well with the tarragon jus, and the potato tuille was fun too! Lovely flavour-packed start.
The mackerel is a down to brass tacks dish. Rightly proud of the produce, they served it surprisingly as a cold starter. Peeled cucumbers and heritage tomatoes certainly were a great accompaniment, along with dill creme fraiche and wasabi yoghurt.
Hake. Oh how I love the - and more than ever now. I ran out of words to describe how good this was, the chef is obviously well experienced in cooking fish, and got the beautiful white flakes cooked perfectly, with a crisp and flavourful skin. Samphire is always good to see, taste of the sea and coupled with potato cubes, capers and a white onion confit. The lemon thyme jus though - spectacular - really loved how it lifted the dish, and finding out later how they made it I'm not surprised, the effort was well worth it!
When asked my opinion of this dish by the waiter, I told him it was gorgeous but frustrating. "I'll never be able to recreate that at home!" .. and I guess that's what it's all about - I love cooking, but this is next level stuff!
Honey glazed duck breast with foie gras, chinese cabbage and five spice jus. Very well balanced dish, probably didn't need so much foie gras but extravagance like this certainly tastes great.
So, with all that under out belt, time for desserts.
Pineapple cake, not had this in years, and certainly they've made it special here. Well balanced, serious amounts of fun and flavours that made me never want to stop eating - almond and pistachio used to great effect here.
A spectacularly plated dish this, interesting tid-bits of sweetness. Raspberry mousse, sorbet, pistachio maracon, raspberry jam and was described by my wife as 'Sexual' - well, perfect for date night I guess!
Petit fours to end, brought out by the pastry chef to whom I wanted to chat about various great things we'd eaten. Pistachio soft macaron, milkybar fudge and mango marshmallow! What a brilliant way to end the meal, and we both felt blown over by the quality of the food.
All I need to do now is somehow get myself and my new wife along to Gidleigh Park, I hear great things about it! Michael if you're reading this, do let me know your favourite dish, I'll see if I can make it down.
For more details about click: The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange
Review is my own, I was not invited to review.