We couldn’t have picked a better day to visit the Cary Arms in Babbacombe. It was a gorgeous evening and the outside dining area was full of families soaking up the late evening sunshine, while enjoying their dinner and taking in the beautiful views that stretch from one end of the bay to the other.
When I arrived with my father, we were greeted by the friendly and hospitable Jen Podmore, General Manager at The Cary Arms, who showed us to the best table in the house. Perched high above the sea overlooking Babbacombe Bay, the Captain’s Table is an octagonal seating area shaded by a large umbrella and has superb, panoramic sea views. What a spot to dine from! We couldn’t wait!
We consulted the menu and were impressed by the selection on offer, so what to eat was not an easy choice to make. Ben Kingdon is Head Chef at The Cary Arms, he has a love of local fresh food, using only quality local, seasonal produce in his menus, and it shows.
The menu at The Cary Arms is not extensive but has a good variety of dishes. I opted for the Devon crab and smoked salmon cocktail in a Bloody Mary sauce, with pickled lemons and granary bread to start. So much more than your average cocktail, the sauce packed a real punch with the addition of chilli powder and paprika, and the juice of the pickled lemons added a zingy contrast.
For my main course I chose pan-fried sea trout served on sautéed potatoes with samphire, finished in a basil pesto. The succulent fish was paired perfectly flavour-wise with the tasty pesto.
My father opted for the buffalo mozzarella, vine tomatoes and basil finished with olive oil. The presentation was impressive – a colourful array of fresh and tasty ingredients came piled in beautiful layers. For the main course, he chose the Devon loin of lamb, served on crushed tapenade potatoes, with aubergine and anchovy puree and broad beans. He described the lamb as ‘melt-in-your-mouth tender’ and said that the puree added an unusual and unexpected flavour to the dish.
The choice of dessert was a far easier one for us both. I opted for the West Country cheese board, accompanied by oat biscuits and chutney, while dad relished the vanilla bean pannacotta with marinated strawberries & balsamic. This summery dish he said, was creamy and velvety without being too rich.
We watched the sun going down behind the cliffs and there was no shortage of activity on the water to hold our attention. From groups fishing and youngsters swimming in the sea, to boats bobbing round the bay, the view really did make this the most spectacular al fresco dining experience.