I love it when Torquay gets it right. My hometown has been in the shadows for way too long. These days, however, you get the feeling that things are brightening up around here. Big construction projects by large hotel groups are the obvious signs that this town is worth investing in.
But it’s the smaller-scale beacons of hope that are really lifting my spirits. The Meadfoot Bay is one such place. This stylishly-finished luxury boutique hotel in one of Torquay’s grand Victorian villas has its own Brasserie. Headed up by chef Callum Tasker, who has worked with Torquay’s Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone, the Brasserie offers high quality, freshly created dishes in a relaxed, contemporary setting.
We sank into soft, velvet sofas and plump cushions, while we carried out the arduous task of choosing our dinner. It was a tough call. I would have happily eaten all of the starters and most of the mains but that’s not the done thing, apparently. Instead, I chose two of each and let my husband eat some.
We were guided through to the intimate dining room by one half of our efficient waiting staff duo. There was just enough time to admire the bay window, striking dark blue feature wall, vintage posters and classically cool wooden tables (all good signs), before my pan-fried crispy red mullet arrived. The light batter delivered on crispiness, while the sweet and sour cucumber delivered its satisfyingly sharp, vinegar kick.
I was hoping to try my husband’s dill-cured salmon gravadlax, as per the pre-dinner agreement we had outlined, but I looked up too late. He had finished the salmon but very kindly offered me a piece of the blood orange. He said it was the perfect partner to the oily fish. I guess I’ll never know.
Next came the fillet of stone bass with roasted salsify, local mushrooms and a red wine jus (for me) and Devon beef rump, roasted shallots and a warm chicory, walnut and pancetta salad (for him). We barely said a word as we ate every last bit, garnishes and all. Both dishes were melt-in-the-mouth good.
I went straight in for the kill with my husband’s sticky toffee pudding, taking no chances and helping myself to a giant spoonful before getting to work on my ginger-infused panna cotta. What bliss.
I left feeling full of great food but also full of hope for Torquay’s culinary future.