Boringdon Hall, Plymouth’s luxury country house hotel and spa, recently surprised its followers with the unveiling of a new restaurant concept.
To mark the launch of Àclèaf, we chewed the fat with head chef Scott Paton and found out why it was time to say goodbye to The Gallery Restaurant
What inspired the evolution from The Gallery to Àclèaf?
I wanted something fresher. The Gallery had a formal reputation and I felt that it didn’t offer anything distinct. With the standard three course and tasting menu set-up at The Gallery, I was only cooking for guests who already knew and loved Boringdon, not attracting future visitors.
I’m lucky to have very supportive directors who have let me create an experience that better represents my style of cooking. The idea stemmed from a small restaurant facelift and menu relaunch, but we ended up going the whole hog and updating everything.
The food offering has been on my mind for a while and, as a team, there has been a lot of talk about whether tasting menus are starting to go out of fashion. The problem with tasting menus is that a lot of chefs only do them so that they can dictate which dishes guests will eat. That’s never been my rationale; all I’ve wanted to do is create a unique dining experience which gives us time to make our guests feel special. Three courses felt too abrupt to do this, so we’ve introduced a four course menu and six course tasting option.
Àclèaf: what’s the origin of the new name?
Àclèaf is the old English word for oak leaf. A few years ago I won a Caterer Acorn Award and I’ve always had a reputation in the South West as an up-and-coming chef, but I see the opening of Àclèaf as the acorn maturing into the real deal. But it has multiple meanings: as a restaurant we’re also turning a new leaf.
So, what’s new?
Dining at Àclèaf is more interactive — a four course menu with twists and turns along the way. The food is still my style of cooking but we’ve stripped back a few elements and the new format focuses on the amazing ingredients. We spent last year tracking down the best possible produce you can buy. It’s all about providing a completely novel dining experience for our guests.
I’m keen to go back to traditional cooking methods. To get great flavour from a dish you need to know the basic techniques: before you can break the rules you need to understand the rules.
I’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker. As a team, we’re quite comfortable with our core cookery skills so now we’re eager to reinvent a few of the classics.
What can we expect to see on the menu?
The menu is a celebration of local and seasonal food. There is a lot of shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallops, lemon sole and turbot, as well as good quality meats including 40-day aged Warren beef, local venison, duck, spring lamb and the most amazing quail.