I was told I was in for a real treat with dinner at The Lamb at Longdown, and more or less from the moment I walked in, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
The Lamb started life as a country inn in the 17th century, and retains a semi-rural feel. It changed hands in early 2018 and has been steadily building up a reputation for fantastic food – led by chef Dolton Lodge, who is a part owner. He explained how The Lamb was still very much somewhere for locals to come, there is an area with comfy sofas (where we relaxed with a drink before being shown to our table) and a ‘classic pub’ section on the menu. The decor throughout is contemporary and bold: dark teal, lots of lovely wood and subdued lighting just at the right level. On the walls are limited-edition prints by Katharine Lightfoot… sheep, hares and a Highland cow adding to its ‘country’ appeal.
I prefer a menu where there’s a choice, but not too much. The evening menu was spot on. I opted for pan-seared Brixham scallops, served with black pudding, roast cauliflower and a scattering of rape seeds. It’s no secret that I love scallops; these were cooked to perfection, but it was the roast cauliflower that sent me into raptures. On the other side of the table, my guest visibly floated through a crab risotto, announcing that it was the best she’d ever had. High praise indeed.
I couldn’t resist the monkfish for my main course, where this time it was the turn of crispy mussels to steal the show, along with a glorious Keralan curry velouté. A roast rump of Elston Farm lamb and crispy shoulder kept my guest purringly quiet. She only protested mildly when I purloined a confit celeriac.
The portions were perfectly judged to leave room for dessert and that’s where we hit a stumbling block – there were three we fancied. I finally opted for panna cotta, while my guest chose her favourite… sticky toffee pudding. We’d mentioned our dilemma to our amiable waitress and lo and behold, when our puds arrived, an almond frangipane tart came too. Dolton came over to tell us that it was a new dessert and he wanted our opinion. Well, I think an opinion on food is best indicated by what’s left on the plate – in this case, nothing.
Throughout the meal, the word ‘exquisite’ kept popping into my head. The whole experience was a pleasure and I’m already looking forward to returning.