Belinda Dillon’s palate is well and truly satisfied at this top restaurant
Devon is full of pockets of history, reminders of how things used to be. Tucked away in Kingsteignton is a remnant of traditional rural charm – The Thatched Cottage Restaurant. With its eponymous roof, cob walls and oak beams, it’s a 16th-century diamond in the rough. Enter through the walled garden, where Chef Colin Seymour grows some of the fruit and herbs that appear on his modern European menu, and you sense time slipping away.
Colin and his partner, Chris, have been running the restaurant for five years and have built a reputation for great food at reasonable prices. Colin is himself a stickler for the values that have stood many a chef in good standing: “A chef is only as good as his ingredients,” he says. “Here, we use the best and make everything from scratch. I want people to leave happy and feel fed. I resent having to pay extra for vegetables when I dine out; that doesn’t happen here. I take pride in providing good value for money.”
So to the meal – and our starters completely knock our socks off. My scallops are a silky perfection raised to heavenly dimensions by the nimbus of cauliflower and caramelised onion purée they float in on. My husband’s pork and pistachio terrine expertly combines robust flavours with a delicate sensibility, and comes with a super cider apple jelly. There’s a ‘fine dining’ aesthetic to the presentation, the beauty of the dishes matched by the huge flavours.
The mains are similarly impressive and a true testament to Colin’s intention that all his diners leave the premises happy and full. My slow-braised lamb is fall-apart, catch-me-I’m-swooning good, the aromatic rosemary and honey potato purée exquisitely smooth; green beans swim in a meaty sauce that has depth and delicacy. The husband’s tender chicken comes with a deliciously savoury tapenade jus and cheeky little button onions that add the right injection of sweetness. Both are portions to make your eyes water and leave only enough room for us to share an ephemerally light lemon cheesecake, given a lovely sharp sideswipe by a raspberry compote. Bliss.
The best quality produce from local farmers and suppliers, good recipes, good value – it’s a winning formula, proven by the dedicated customers who keep returning.
Having started in a professional kitchen at 16, Colin is proudly old-school, the benefits of which are passed on to diners and the next generation of chefs – Colin always has an apprentice in his kitchen team. “Well, I don’t want to be plucking pheasants come game season!” he laughs.
And with winter blowing in, I can imagine settling down with a glass of red in front of the roaring fire and tucking into one of those pheasants. Cold weather has never felt so welcome…
Published 31 October 2014
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