In the fading evening light, Boringdon Hall on the outskirts of Plymouth glows majestically – candles flickering behind the leaded glass windows and discreet lights illuminating the impressive Elizabethan architecture. First mentioned in the Domesday Book, in the 16th century, it belonged to the father of Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen for nine days.
That sense of history is everywhere – the coat of arms of King James I is in the Great Hall and there are Tudor features throughout. But Boringdon is not stuck in the past. This five-star hotel was named The Sunday Times best spa hotel in 2016, just a month after it opened, and remained in the top three in the 2017 rankings.
Inside there are leather sofas, plush furnishings and crisp white table linen – while the service is friendly and warm, and the atmosphere is very relaxing. Head Chef Scott Paton has made his mark in less than two years, picking up 3 AA Rosettes within months of arriving. Scott started as a pot-washer, then became a pastry chef at Exeter’s Jack in the Green, before stepping up to the role of Head Chef at the famous Horn of Plenty in Gulworthy, where he also collected 3 AA Rosettes.
At Boringdon, his food is a perfect match for the surroundings. Like all good chefs, the produce he uses is seasonal and local, and it has a simple sophistication. The food really does, if you’ll forgive the cliché, tick all the boxes. There are incredible flavours, from the delicate to the bold. He plays with textures – crisp accompaniments to meat that melt in the mouth. And it all looks like a picture on a plate.
One thing that struck me at the end of the evening, was how long we had been at the table. Normally eating out is starters, mains, puds and bang! You’re out of the door by 9pm (usually to make way for the next diner).
I’ve never felt so relaxed in a restaurant. Olives and some sticky, spicy nuts with our pre-dinner G&Ts offered the chance to peruse the menu. Enjoy a traditional three courses for £55 as we did, or try the five-course tasting menu (£60) or seven-course (£69). We were also delighted with a plate of four canapes – little mouthfuls of heaven – fabulous bread and an out-of-this world amuse-bouche of garlic and asparagus veloute. To my mind, for service this exquisite, food this delicious and surroundings this impressive, that’s remarkable value. It was certainly an evening to savour.