Caroline Garland heads to Dartmoor for 2 Michelin Star treatment by newly appointed head chef Michael Wignall...
Gidleigh Park is nestled in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, an easy (4 hour) run down from London. The hotel’s beautiful setting: surrounded by pretty woodland – which was carpeted with bluebells when we visited – moorland and little streams forces you to switch off the moment you roll up the drive and into the beautiful wood-pannelled reception, where a smiling bellboy whisked our luggage away.
After a few hours exploring the countryside around the hotel, we headed to dinner in the hotel’s newly refurbished dining room, co-designed by Head Chef Michael Wignall and David Matthews of PinPoint Projects featuring stylish mid-century green velvet chairs next to immaculate white linen laid with silver cutlery and sculptures by Cathy Lewis.
We opened with torched eel, rillette and consommé, Granny Smith apple, aerated white chocolate and sesame horseradish with Exmoor Caviar. The daring flavour mix of sweet chocolate with eel, sour consommé and salty caviar was the sort of heady experience only a skilled chef like Wignall could pull off. We picked a wine flight to accompany each course of the restaurant’s tasting menu, picked out by head sommelier Renato Della Corte.
Each course was packed with creative flavour combinations and beautifully presented. There was loin of rabbit, Aylsbury snail bolognaise, Amontillado sherry, yellow oyster, braised celery and bianchetti truffle and a truly delicious torched lemon sole.
To match the earthy rabbit and snails with oyster mushrooms and sherry sauce, I tried a light Viognier from Rhone Valley. Les Gendrines 2013 by Pierre Gaillard is aged in a barrel for 8 months and has notes of almonds, orange blossoms, butter and citrus fruit. With the flamed lemon sole we drank a Pinot Noir.
Every course was as good as the next and each wine sitting perfectly alongside.
After dinner Katherine handed us over to Matthias [Chef de Rang] who made us feel like we had the run of Gidleigh Park for the night, sitting in the cosy lounge drinking fresh peppermint tea with homemade chocolates.
Gorgeous food, lovely atmosphere and delicious wine – this was the perfect place to relax and switch off.
If you would like to try some of the wines we drank, you can buy them here:
2013 Pierre Gailliard, Les Gendrines, Cotes du Rhone Blanc – served with the Eel.
2013 Pinot Noir, Mt Beautiful, North Canterbury, New Zealand – served with Lemon Sole.
As the food is seasonal the tasting menu changes daily.
It isn’t something you might do every day and certainly not cheap but if you’re looking to treat someone you’ll be safe in the hands of everyone at Gidleigh Park.
10 Course tasting menu £130.00 per person
To add the wine flight £95 per person
Dinner, bed and breakfast from £439