With the old Combe House Hotel switched to relaxed T-shirt and jeans territory, the newly launched Paschoe House near Crediton could well be its natural successor for fine dining and traditional luxury in this part of Devon, suggests Jo Rees
A rural residence until its reincarnation a couple of months ago, the mid-19th century Paschoe House has had the full works lavished on it to turn it into the quintessential English country house hotel.
Expensive feature wallpaper and luxurious furnishings? Check. Crackling logs in the fireplaces and bar list of artisan spirits? Check. Menagerie of stuffed animals? Check. Abode Exeter’s executive chef and most of his brigade? Whoa there a minute …
After the devastating fire which closed the Exeter hotel, Paschoe proprietor and GM Tabitha Amador-Christie was able to employ, wholesale, much of the Michael Caines’ trained brigade, including head chef Alex Gibbs and pastry chef Sam Brook. The result is a well-orchestrated kitchen team and dining experience that most new business owners can only dream of.
VISIT for the cooking. A seriously good eight-course tasting menu marks Gibbs and Brook as ones to watch. Sam appears to have brought the secret Caines bread recipe with him too, which is great news for the carb cognoscente.
DON’T VISIT if you’re a bit squeamish about stuffed animals. Taxidermy is the leitmotif here: an ostrich looms above the bar, an elk (and many of his mates) congregate up the stairs, while a squirrel clutches his nuts on the sideboard.
WE LIKED the friendly and polished service, the sleek royal blue and bronze dining room, and kicking off with ravishing canapés and a Gin Mare and tonic at the bar.
INSIDER’S TIP Tabitha has big plans for this place. Keep ‘em peeled for phase two which includes a spa and picnic garden.
What we ate (tasting menu)
Trio of canapés
Devon scallops with pea, bacon, black pudding and shallot
Confit duck liver with gingerbread, raisin, hazelnut and braised chicory
Fillet of brill with cauliflower, sea vegetables, pickled cucumber and shellfish bisque
Devon Red Ruby beef fillet with braised ox cheek, celeriac, confit shallot and beef red wine jus
Raspberry with lemon and ginger
Apricot with basil and chocolate
Tasting menu £65.
3 courses (includes additional canapés and amuse-bouche) £30 (lunch) and £50 (dinner)