Good food, great location, amazing price – The Taw Restaurant at Petroc College may be run by students, but you wouldn’t know from the experiences I’ve had.
Why it’s on my list
Both my parents and in-laws like to get a good deal and love their food, and both have praised the restaurant at Petroc College, where they have essentially been guinea pigs for the cookery students, where they hold theme news guts throughout the term. I signed up to The Taw Restaurant mailing list and when I got the theme night list through in January I thought we should give a couple of them a go – steak and tapas.
Location: The Taw Restaurant, Petroc, Old Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple
Opening times: term time only. Coffee – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10am – 1.30pm; lunch – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12.00pm; dinner, Tuesday and Thursday, 6.30pm and last reservation 7.15pm.
To book: call 01271 852483 or email email@example.com
The food was delicious, atmosphere was relaxing, views were fab, and to top it all off it came at a bargain price. We had extremely enjoyable evenings on both occasions we went.
What I had
On trip one (steak night) we started with a very nice freshly baked bread roll and then we had smoked haddock and saffron cream chowder to start.
For main I had a 6oz fillet steak wrapped in bacon with a bearnaise sauce, skinny fries and sautéed mushrooms, whilst my other half had an 8oz ribeye steak, skinny fries and onion rings.
For dessert I had a goats curd cheesecake with oat and honey crumble, and my other half had a chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream.
On trip two (tapas night) we had roast pepper and aubergine toasts to start, with olives and padron peppers.
Then we had five dishes to share between us. Lamb cutlet with aioli, carne en salsa de almendras (slow cooked pork in a rich almond sauce with crispy croutons), octopus with potato in an olive oil and paprika dressing, garbanzos con chorizo (chickpea stew with chorizo in a smoked paprika infused tomato sauce) and tortilla de patatas (classic Spanish omelette).
For dessert I had Santiago almond tart with membrillo, and the other half had orange caramel creams.
Putting taste aside, the absolute best thing about The Taw Restaurant is the astounding value for money. Both the steak dinner and tapas were £16.50 per person. So the steak dinner was three courses for £16.50, and no supplement for the fillet steak – you wouldn’t get that anywhere else.
And as for the tapas, that was seven dishes to share, plus olives and a dessert for £16.50 each.
It’s to be expected of course, with it not being your typical restaurant, but to be honest the kinds of things you might expect to be the reason for the price are not things that you particularly notice, at least not to the degree that they affect the overall experience. The food was fantastic and whilst some of the waiting staff were very comfortable and confident, others may have been a little nervous, but it didn’t matter in the slightest. Would it be cruel to say it was even at times entertaining?! A better word would probably be ‘sweet’ – all the students clearly try their absolute best and were earnest in their aim to give diners a good experience.
As for taste – everything was sublime. That steak – perfectly cooked. From the tapas selection, the slow cooked pork in almond sauce was super tender, and the crispy croutons were a little treat resting on top.
Not the best
On steak night the service was a little slow, and there was a mixup with our order. We were given the wrong veg side – I had dressed fine beans instead of sautéed mushrooms, and my husband had sautéed mushrooms instead of onion rings. Our poor waiter was a little flustered when we mentioned it, but I hope that gave him a new experience. They were very good about it and not only went to fix our order, but gave us an extra plate of sides – onion rings and dressed fine beans. They dealt with it very professionally.
Service was brilliant on the tapas night.
From its position at the top of Sticklepath, overlooking Barnstaple, diners are treated to fantastic views day or night, and there is no other restaurant in Barnstaple where you will get this. We went in the evening and enjoyed seeing the twinkling lights of Barnstaple below.
The venue itself is very nice and comfortable. It’s warm, the music is fun and unpretentious (pretty sure I heard Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley at one point), and the lighting is low and subdued.
Ignoring the whiteboard and projector that hint at its educational setting, it’s a very nice place to spend an evening.
Sign up to their mailing list and be one of the first to see the theme nights for the coming year.
We booked our dinner for 7pm, but on the steak night, when service was a little slower, 6.30pm would have been a better time to be seated.