Abi Manning left the wellies at home as she hit Exmoor’s The Coach House by Michael Caines for a feast of fine dining
When a 17th century former coaching house was converted to a sleek on-site restaurant for Kentisbury Grange Hotel in 2013, the Caines association created a frisson of expectation.
Five years on and Caines-trained head chef James Mason is proving his own culinary clout – evidence of which comes via a bounty of accolades. In the last two years the restaurant has achieved a third AA rosette and two golds in the Restaurant of the Year category of the South West Tourism Awards.
VISIT for chic dining in the countryside. Without the ostentation of a grand manor house, nor the welly-clad informality of a country pub, The Coach House exudes an easy ambience – without losing an ounce of sophistication.
It’s not a huge space but the team have turned the beamed upstairs floor into a comfy lounge, which is a no-brainer for a champagne aperitif or a well-made cocktail before moving through to the restaurant.
DON’T VISIT fresh from the moor in your mucky boots. You won’t find linen-dressed tables but there is definitely glamour in the velvet booths, impeccable plating and carefully compiled wine list.
WE LIKED the tickle of wasabi with the salmon, the richness of stilton-spiked venison, and an impeccably cooked butter-poached lemon sole with mussels and rich chive beurre blanc.
And with large windows onto the kitchen, guests also get a side order of gastro theatre with dinner.
INSIDER’S TIP Check out the luxury cottage suites (unveiled last month) and extend your visit to a full gourmet getaway.
What we ate (tasting menu, dinner)
Confit salmon, beetroot, wasabi
Rabbit leg, nasturtium, pickles, endive
Butter-poached lemon sole, mussels, chive beurre blanc
Pan roasted venison saddle, tartare, stilton, chocolate
Passionfruit sorbet, exotic fruit salad, coconut foam
Coffee walnut sponge, malt ice cream
6 course tasting menu £70