The treacherous drive to Gara Rock is quickly forgotten once you clock one of the South West’s best dining backdrops, decides Kathryn Lewis
Don’t book a table at this clifftop hotel restaurant for a long-overdue catch up with friends as, even on a storm-battered Thursday in winter, the all-encompassing views distract from even the juiciest bits of news.
It’s still worth adding the newly relaunched retreat to your 2019 hit list though – if not to chatter over thoroughly-Instagrammable food, then to glean inspiration from its gorgeous interiors for your own nest tweaking.
VISIT FOR for a restful alternative to Salcombe’s all-year-round bustle.
The East Portlemouth destination is only an hour’s walk on the Coast Path – or a 20 minute stomp across a couple of fields – from the holiday hotspot, but with no neighbours and only a handful of walkers and sheep passing by, Gara Rock offers peace and seclusion on the ever-popular south Devon coast.
And if, after a few days of R&R in the spa, you’re craving fresh foodie thrills, the team will even ferry you to Salcombe in the Gara Land Rover Defender for dinner.
DON’T VISIT if you can’t handle bold flavours. Head chef Lewis Glanvill isn’t afraid to explore the peripheries of the palate, and wild card ingredients such as lovage, bitter leaf and burnt cucumber will divide opinion. Conservative eaters are advised to play it safe with crowd-pleasers like the côte de boeuf with béarnaise and fries or grilled Dartmouth sardines with lemon aioli.
WE LIKED the strong local and homemade ethos that steers the menu. Salcombe crab, Dartmouth sardines and Coombeshead sourdough shine alongside Garamade ice cream, sorbets and cordials.
INSIDER’S TIP Weather misbehaving? Check what’s showing in the 12-seater cinema room.
What we ate (lunch)
Starter Jersey Royals, lardo, radish, lovage broth
Main Black pudding, squid, bitter leaf
Pud Caramel fondant, Granny Smith sorbet
3 courses from £23.50
Don't be fooled by its formal facade; drop anchor and find an abundance of piscatorial pleasures and spa treats at Salcombe Harbour Hotel