Jeff Cooper tastes some café culture at Teignmouth's popular Bistro
Twenty Six in Teignmouth is newish to the town’s food scene. It’s found at 26 Regent Street and has transformed what the seaside resort has to offer in culinary terms.
Chef Denise Tarriela has whetted the locals’ appetite with her combination of indulgent sticky buns and croissants for breakfast, French-style charcuterie and tarts for lunch, Devon cream teas and her signature mango and valrhona chocolate cakes.
Her dishes reflect the places where she has trained. “I have been a chef for almost 20 years and started as an apprentice in a French restaurant in Manila. I took a master course in cuisine at the Hotel Ritz’s culinary school in Paris, with a brief ‘stage de cuisine’ at the Ritz’s fine dining restaurant,” she explains.
“Locally, I worked at the Ness House Hotel in Shaldon, in 2006, then moved to The Cary Arms in Babbacombe. My fiancé and business partner, Richard Hunter, bought twentysix after considerable searching,” she says.
Drop in during the day, as I often do, and you will be greeted warmly in the New England-style bistro and served delicious food (and coffee). One lunchtime I enjoyed the potted Creedy duck, while my wife had the wild mushroom tartine and, having lived in France herself, recognised it as genuine cuisine. Denise’s style could be described as food you would buy from a top delicatessen – a combination of wonderful ingredients and culinary skill, and the type of dish you wouldn’t normally cook at home.
Just as important as the food is the ambience and whenever I have visited, I have experienced a real taste of café culture at the bistro. Diners are content to sit and relax with friends among a gentle hubbub of chat, and people coming and going at their own pace.
The restaurant appears cosy, but when I visited with some friends on one of Denise’s popular themed nights, she had easily accommodated a trio of musicians at the back of the restaurant. Live music is often played here. A group of us visited on New Orleans night. We ate chicken jambalaya, which is traditionally from Louisiana, and swordfish steak on a bed of tomatoes and fruit including diced mango – delicious.
Despite continental cooking influences and adventurous themed evenings, Denise supports local suppliers. “We use local produce where possible but do source some of our ingredients from France via a local specialist supplier. There is a lot of wonderful food available locally and I count myself really lucky to be working in Devon, where inspiration to create new dishes seems to come rather easily,” she says.
“It is our intention to find a second outlet before too long,” she adds, and let’s hope she does.
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