Planning your first meal out post lockdown 3.0? We’ve handpicked five South West finds for dinner with knobs on
The Bunch of Grapes, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
A rural village pub may be the unlikely setting for cutting-edge cooking, but it’s where Tony Casey crafts intriguing compilations that play with flavour, texture and style. The talented chef skippered kitchens in Bath and Bristol before taking over The Bunch of Grapes (pictured above) in 2018 – and the cities’ losses have been Bradford-on-Avon’s gain.
Kick off your post-lockdown visit with cocktails served in retro-chic tumblers as you ponder the difficult choice laid before you: should you pick what you fancy from the à la carte? Or throw caution to the wind and plump for the tasting menu? Decisions … Either way, top quality ingredients take centre stage in standout dishes such as brill with cockles, coconut broth, shitake and pak choi, and mascarpone mousse with miso ice cream, meringue and strawberry yogurt. Read more here.
Outlaws New Road, Port Isaac, Cornwall
It’s all change at Nathan Outlaw’s eponymous restaurant in Port Isaac: a new name marks a new era of eating on New Road where precise and delicate tasting menus have been replaced by a more casual dining experience.
Unshackled from the activity required to maintain his restaurant’s prestigious accolades (Restaurant Nathan Outlaw held two Michelin stars and scored 10/10 in the Good Food Guide), the chef is now cooking exactly the kind of dishes he loves to eat: high quality, local seafood crafted in simple ways to pay homage to the Cornish waters. ‘I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,’ he says.
While any unnecessary fripperies have been done away with, Outlaw’s is still the place to seek excellently executed fish dishes. Read more here.
Methuen Arms, Corsham, Wiltshire
Bags of character, beautiful surroundings and conscientiously crafted food: the stunning Methuen Arms, in the heart of picturesque Corsham, ticks all the boxes for an incredible gourmet post-lockdown getaway.
Head chef Kevin Chandler and team believe there is nothing more satisfying than crafting dishes from produce grown and nurtured in the soul of their kitchen – that is, in the Georgian coaching inn’s vegetable and herb garden.
The team aim for self-sufficiency as much as possible and, as a result, the food is seasonal, fresh and flavoursome. Everything is made from scratch, sourcing is hyper local and the nose-to-tail ethos shines through in dishes such as top quality cut of Dexter beef served with braised beef, pressed potato, horseradish and truffle. The inn’s fabulous selection of beers – including local Butcombe ale – ciders and wines makes the perfect accompaniment to sumptuous specials such as malt-glazed guinea fowl. Read more here.
The Lamb at Longdown, near Exeter, Devon
While The Lamb’s country village setting is traditional, the food most certainly isn’t. Chef proprietor Dolton Lodge (formerly of The Galley in Topsham) takes a contemporary approach and crafts smart dishes from locally and ethically sourced ingredients such as Perridge Estate deer, Elston Farm lamb, Brixham scallops and Cornish cod. Seasonal tasting menus (available Thursday to Saturday) satisfy indecisive diners who are happy to sit back and let Dolton take the driver’s seat.
Beautiful à la carte dishes are fortified by pub favourites which also benefit from a dose of the talented chef’s creativity – think honey-glazed gammon chop with lacy fried duck egg and triple cooked chips, and steamed River Fowey mussels with white wine and garlic and matchstick skin-on fries. Read more here.
Gather, Totnes, Devon
The term ‘hyper-local’ is often overused, yet the efforts of this Totnes restaurant justify the description: a co-op of local allotments stock the Gather kitchen with field-fresh vegetables; fish and seafood are landed down the road at Brixham; and meat is reared within the county.
Talented chef Harrison Brockington leads a young team who use this glorious produce to create dishes to delight. And although the food is smart, the relaxed vibe and friendly service make it a great destination for all manner of occasions.
To fully appreciate the kitchen team’s talent, the seasonal tasting menu is a must (there’s also a vegetarian alternative available). The five course line-up focuses on flavour and provenance, and dishes such as roasted pollock with sweet garlic, aubergine caviar and Sauvignon Blanc are polished without being overly fussy. Read more here.
If you enjoyed Take 5: Post-lockdown sprees, find more Trencherman’s Take 5 collections here.