A cheerful welcome and large portions are on the menu for Katy Hanley when she visits Dukes in Sidmouth
I was excited to revisit the elegant Georgian seaside town that is Sidmouth. I visited Dukes restaurant at lunchtime and it was very busy and full of local people. Dukes is celebrating its tenth anniversary and is also winner of a Silver Award in the Taste of the West Awards for Best Dining Pub for two years in a row (2012 and 2013).
Although there is a blue plaque on the side of the building for being an historic old chapel, the restaurant is light, airy and has plenty of large windows. The interior conservatory is modern, comfortable and clean. It is within 30 yards of the sea wall, although the sea is not visible from a seated position. The waitress welcomed us warmly and was cheerful and attentive throughout our meal.
The dishes were served in generous portions. The menu is not divided into separate courses in the usual way, though we ordered three courses. My husband had the homemade Scotch egg to start, served cold with rocket leaves and Cumberland sauce. I had to try the homemade beer-battered onion rings. They were enormous and I could not finish them! I have plans for my next visit: two other diners had opted for the homemade soup – it was served with bread and butter in its own lidded pot, on a breadboard. We overheard positive comments about the bread.
Battered haddock was my choice of main and came with the traditional chips and mushy peas. This dish is a favourite of mine when at the seaside, and possibly this example was even larger and more satisfying than normal. The batter was made with a local ale. There were many fish choices on the menu, which was good – and not surprising considering the location. My husband chose the fish pie with cheesy mash and seasonal vegetables, as recommended by the waitress. The pie was rich and creamy with a tasty mash.
Feeling replete, but keen to see what the kitchen had to offer, we chose our dessert. My lemon posset was (again) a large portion and was served in an adorable Kilner jar with two small sugared shortbread biscuits. My husband’s mincemeat Bakewell tart with homemade custard had a thick crust of lightly toasted almonds and came with lashings of custard.
The wine list was weighted towards New World wines, which is a positive in my book, although we did not try any at this particular lunchtime. The bottled beer selection was fantastic.
The menu is reasonably priced and hearty and would suit families. Come hungry!
Published 17 December 2013
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