Prepare for a Middle Eastern encounter on Exmoor that’s so delightful it’ll have you champing at the bit to share it with foodie friends … as soon as you’ve stuffed down that last bejeweled hunk of baklava, of course, says Abi Manning
Like the idea of an exotic restaurant located in a picturesque clifftop town on Exmoor? Of course you do. Encouraged by the thought of owners with the desire to create a unique dining experience? Undoubtedly. Titillated by the prospect of an exciting fusion of authentic international flavours crafted from local ingredients? Time to book a table.
VISIT for bona fide Middle Eastern and Mediterranean feasting in a quaint Victorian town. Dasha Moughton’s culinary craft from her Russian heritage shines through in dishes that are thoughtfully prepared and sublimely spiced. And a commitment to authenticity can be seen in the whole spices sourced from down-the-road suppliers in her quest for genuine international flavours.
DON’T VISIT unprepared for the sharp bends, steep turns and wild Exmoor roads that run to and from Lynton (we unwittingly became deer dodgers on our journey). So make it an overnighter and book in at one of the local guest houses – and not just to wimp out on the drive home. Wake up to fresh sea air and feast on spectacular ocean views, before popping back to The Vanilla Pod for coffee and brunch or a lazy mezze lunch: the relaxed spot channels a cafe vibe during the day before donning its restaurant alter ego come evening.
WE LIKED the cheerful service, having a nose through the piles of Middle Eastern cookbooks, and indulging in exquisite perfumed spices and robust flavours. Beautifully cooked Cornish hake is enlivened by the warm embrace of saffron, while rich, syrupy filo layers of baklava are best paired with a shot of aromatic espresso – perfect preparation for the wild ride home.
INSIDER’S TIP Take home a keepsake of your Exmoor experience – the local artwork on the walls is available to purchase.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Aubergine and ricotta gnocchi, burnt sage butter, frisee lettuce
Main Panfried Cornish hake with potato, saffron and olive oil emulsion, wilted spinach, and tomato, sultana and pine nut sherry vinaigrette
Pud Baklava with pomegranate seeds and a shot of espresso
3 courses from £20.40