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Northgate House Hotel at Buckfast Abbey. Table set for two with food and wine

Northgate House Hotel, Buckfast Abbey

The food and ambience during Chrissy Harris’s visit to the Northgate House Hotel served as a real tonic

Buckfast Abbey is a place of spiritual nourishment. I can now thoroughly recommend it as a place of great culinary satisfaction too. My husband and I went for dinner at the restaurant in Northgate House, a 33-bedroom hotel and self-catering accommodation in the magnificent gardens of the Abbey.

Hundreds of tourists come here every year to visit the historic monastery, home to a community of Roman Catholic Benedictine monks (famous for producing Buckfast Tonic Wine). And that’s all I knew about Buckfast Abbey until we had this lovely meal. I would never have thought about coming here for the kind of food you tell your mates about.

The new chef here, Johnny Varah, deserves to be talked about. I went for NFC to start with, that’s ‘Northgate Fried Chicken’. These delicious, ‘dirty good’, Asian barbecue-style chicken balls with spring onion and black sesame take the Chinese takeaway classic to heavenly levels.

It took me a while to come down from the sticky, crispy, saucy high. My husband, Luke, went for the smoked ham hock and pistachio terrine. He wanted NFC but very graciously ordered an alternative for variety’s sake. The terrine was as good as it gets, complemented by a green chilli piccalilli (as nice to say as it is to eat).

Luke then chose game pie with crunchy chive mash, tenderstem broccoli and – get this – tonic wine-braised red cabbage. Anyone who has sampled Buckfast’s famous caffeinated fortified wine knows that it’s quite the tipple – but on your cabbage? Yep, it works. This could definitely catch on.

The pie tasted as good as it looked. Luke excitedly told our lovely waitress: “It’s got pastry all the way around – not just a lid!” We were both quite taken with this particular dish. In fact, I keep showing the picture I took of this little pie to members of my family and close friends.

Meanwhile, I went for the chickpea curry with jasmine rice and home-made charred flatbread. It was a nicely balanced bowl of texture and spice, plus the flatbread was the perfect size for dunking.

We shared a pudding and kept it authentic by ordering the tonic pear. The tonic wine-poached fruit came with Greek yoghurt, almond crumble and berry gel. Cor! Big spoons at the ready.

Do not overlook Northgate House in Buckfast Abbey for gorgeous looking and tasting food. We drove home thoroughly enlightened. Give it a try.

Sample Menu


  • Salmon crumpet: hot smoked salmon, crispy egg, toasted crumpet, dill mayo, pickled cucumber
  • Truffle arancini: crispy fried truffle risotto balls, aioli, Parmesan


  • Fish & chips: Dartmoor Ale batter, chunky chips, peas, house tartare sauce, lemon
  • Northgate burger: made from Abbey Farm estate beef, crispy bacon, melted cheddar, house sauce, skin-on fries


  • Sticky toffee & ginger pudding: warm caramel sauce, clotted cream vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate tart: crushed Oreo base, salted dark chocolate ganache, compote, honeycomb


  • Starters from £7
  • Mains from £17
  • Desserts from £8
Chrissy loves: the magnificent Abbey grounds; the sticky, saucy starter of Asian barbecue-style chicken balls; and the Buckfast Tonic wine-braised cabbage
Northgate House Hotel
Grange Road
Devon TQ11 0EJ

01364 645630

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