A brand new luxury hotel in Salcombe is a big deal, so my expectations were high, even before we arrived. After a multi-million-pound refurbishment, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel and Spa has been reshaped with a stylish, nautical-themed restaurant overlooking the estuary.
Chef patron Alex Aitken has harbour dining at his heart. He started his career as a trawler man and, after 30 years in the restaurant industry, he brings his considerable fishing knowledge to diners with regular ‘Catch it, cook it, eat it’ experience days out from Salcombe estuary. For me, the option of sustainably sourced fish is an essential on any menu, so I was pleased to see some dishes made with locally caught fish.
While we sipped our gin and tonics, we were presented with a plate of Jetty Bites. These ‘seafood nibbles’ included smoked salmon with caviar, rollmop herring and salt and pepper squid. To start, my husband chose the moules marinières - a generous helping served with a classic sauce. I chose the home-cured Devon river trout gravadlax from the à la carte menu, a well-balanced dish in terms of flavour.
My husband ate the Westcountry lamb cooked two ways: slow-cooked in a shepherd’s pie and seared cannon cooked pink with fresh greens. This was succulent and perfectly pink. My choice of halibut was served with confit kohlrabi, saffron salsify purée, salty kale chips and preserved lemon dressing. This lively dish was a mix of colour, flavour and texture that didn’t overpower the halibut’s delicate flavour.
For dessert, my husband’s dark chocolate fondant with Devon clotted cream ice cream was indulgent, yet not too rich. My salted comb (‘Saltcombe’) ice cream with roast banana was a delicious combination with which to end the meal.
Now, all I need is an excuse to return for cocktails at the Crustacean Bar, centre stage at The Jetty. Mine’s a Belvedere Bloody Mary… and perhaps another pudding.