Review: Gidleigh Park


Carole Hamilton discovers peace, tranquillity, and some sublime-yet-faff-free cooking in deepest, darkest Devon

Just when you think you must have made a wrong turning, you spot the sign encouraging you to keep going because your two-Michelin-starred destination is, indeed, just another mile along what is little more than a track. And its definitely worth keeping faith in your SatNav, because Gidleigh Park is rather special.

The venue
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Set in over 100 acres of woodlands, the hotel sits on the banks of the Teign in Dartmoor National Park. The welcome is as warm as the roaring fire in reception. Our spa suite is a real stunner with the biggest bathroom, complete with sauna and steam room, and double doors onto a balcony. Laying in the bath admiring the view, I remember just why I love my job so much.

The food and drink

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The kitchen is in the more than capable hands of the charming Michael Wignall (guest chef of Good Things’ next issue), who joined the hotel last year. Within 10 months, the chef was awarded two Michelin stars and 5AA rosettes.

Michael cooks my kind of food: complex and full of flavour, with a contemporary twist but without all the faff of some other fine dining establishments. The 10-course tasting menu is the obvious choice to experience the skill of the team; a notion shared by all but two other diners in the nearly full restaurant on this particularly stormy autumn evening.

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The meal starts with three appetite-piquing umami nibbles and some fabulous homemade bread. The tender marinated beef and Bovril with a ridiculously golden egg yolk is followed by loin of rabbit with truffle and Amontillado sherry – my husband declares it a triumph, but I have to pass since I have four bunnies at home and am just too sentimental to enjoy eating their relatives (I know, I know).

I love the yuzu-cured sea bass with a wonderful poached oyster, and the poached cod with cauliflower, coconut and curry is deliciously different and packs a delicate punch. The local duck with shiitake mushroom teriyaki is flavoursome and moist – although Ill never be a massive fan of sweetbreads.

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The Époisses cheese (stinky but worth the effort) is followed by my favourite of the three desserts; a fantastic Plymouth gin, cucumber and chocolate concoction that sends me to bed with a smile on my face.

The verdict
This is right up there for a perfect foodie weekend in the country. It’s hard to fault anything, except maybe the weather.

Make it happen
Price: Tasting menu £145 plus £95 for matching wines
Where: Chagford, Devon TQ13 8HH
Bookings: Phone +44 1647 432367 or click here to make a booking

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Web Editor for Good Things