The Salty Monk, Sidmouth

No need to fear a Friar Tuck belly after dining at this former Benedictine salt cellar, as home-smoked salmon and free range local meats are as delightfully proportionate as every other aspect of The Salty Monk – a carefully crafted restaurant with rooms – discovers Rosanna Rothery

Head chef Andy Witheridge and wife Annette are the most considerate hosts imaginable. From popping hand-baked cookies and cakes in your room to carefully serving a creamy sweet potato and ginger amuse bouche soup at dinner, the pair are on a mission to make your stay utterly divine.

VISIT for quiet contemplation. No matter how celebratory and sociable the occasion, you’ll want to take a few moments to meditate on the lovely little touches in your à la carte supper or seven course tasting menu.

Crisp napkins, funky cutlery and quirky crockery are a canvas for culinary artworks. This is not style over substance though: Andy and sous chef Stephen Foster turn fresh-from-the-farm ingredients into a succession of elegant dishes. Fine flavours and wines are matched with flare to tempt even the most abstemious Abbot.

Supporting each headliner is a strong chorus line: succulent fillet steak is backed by meaty wild fungi and a mushroom tortellini, while the lemon tart just avoids being upstaged by subtle white chocolate and pistachio crumb and cardamom ganache.

DON’T VISIT for grand, anonymous dining. This is a warm home-from-home experience with plenty of soul.

WE LIKED the old-meets-new decor at The Salty Monk. Liturgical-style windows, low-beamed ceilings and antiques blend beautifully with state-of-the- art comforts.

Staying the night? Book yourself into the bathed-in-light Wisteria Room in the garden and wake up to the sound of birds and the scent of flowers. And make sure you stay for breakfast as Andy’s malt loaf, homemade cereals and beetroot hash with poached egg make for a truly exceptional start to the day.

Insider's tip

Follow relaxing treatments and yoga sessions in the fitness room and spa with a lavish afternoon tea.

What we ate (tasting menu, dinner)

Red pepper, sweet potato and ginger soup

Smooth duck liver parfait, quince preserve, melba toast

Roast smoked salmon with textures of beetroot

Confit of duck tart, roast duck breast, celeriac puree

Griddled aged fillet steak, sourdough crouton, wild mushrooms, beef and truffle glaze, mushroom tortellini

Lemon tart, white chocolate and pistachio crumb, cardamom ganache

Beehive baked alaska, honey and yogurt ice cream

7 course tasting menu £65, 3 courses from £26

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