Belinda Dillon's taste buds are well and truly tantalised at this fine dining restaurant
With a reputation as large as the proportions of the splendid 19th-century house that contains it, The Horn of Plenty in Gulworthy has been impressing on all fronts for many years – with its food, its service and the utter gloriousness of its Tamar Valley setting. And judging by the slew of AA Rosettes and gongs on display in the hallway, it is clear that since taking over in 2010, new proprietors Julie Leivers and Damien Pease and Head Chef Scott Paton, who joined in 2011, are succeeding in maintaining the high standards.
It goes without saying – as it should – that seasonality and an attention to food miles are integral to the menu, but it is the creativity at work in the kitchen combined with the quality of the ingredients that really shine in the dishes that unfold before us, from the tantalising canapés and amuses bouches right through to the almost-too-much-to-manage-oh-go-on-then petits fours at the night's end. Intensely powerful flavours, clever combinations and examples of exemplary technique are delivered again and again... no wonder the awards keep coming.
Well versed in the visual language of fine dining, Scott's menu waxes lyrical from start to finish, with quenelles of this and miniature cubes of that producing a feast for the eyes with each new delight that arrives at the table. Happily, the substance is more than a match for the style, and standouts include: the beautifully crisp skin on a chicken wing adding just the right kick to silky scallops; nuggets of boozy fig a perfect accompaniment to plump, pink rounds of outstanding venison; little turrets of ox cheek offering an umami counterpoint to exquisite beef fillet in a heavenly truffle sauce; a shockingly delicious sour cherry sorbet tingling the palate alongside decadently rich peanut mousse and air-kiss-light macarons... it really is a wonder how they fit it all in.
The friendly and professional staff provide a warm welcome, as does the roaring fire in the lounge where we retire for coffee. The wine list is also noteworthy, offering an authentic expression of grape and terroir across a satisfying range of prices – our Chilean Merlot (one of the House reds), is rich, smooth and just right.
The Horn of Plenty's reputation remains in safe hands.
Published 16 February 2014
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