The Coleridge Restaurant is an Exmoor hidden gem. Although it’s technically in Somerset rather than North Devon, I’m willing to make exceptions for the things on Exmoor that are worth travelling for, and this definitely fits the bill.
Why it’s on my list
My husband and I went away for our anniversary – we were looking for a weekend away close to home. We had a wonderful trip planned on Exmoor, with plans for a walk and some tasty pub grub. But we were also on the lookout for a fancy meal, after all it was our anniversary!
A Google search brought up the Coleridge Restaurant at the Dunkery Beacon Country House Hotel. The menu looked good, the food looked well presented and it wasn’t too far from our accommodation, so we thought we would give it a try.
Location: Wootton Courtenay, Near Dunster, Exmoor, TA24 8RH
Type: fine dining, around £20 for a main
Opening times: dinner – April to October, Wednesday to Saturday, 6.30pm-8pm last tables. Dinner during winter, Friday to Sunday, 6.30pm-8pm last tables. Sunday lunch, 12 noon-1.45pm.
To book: booking is essential, email email@example.com or call 01643 841241
It is well worth the journey for the food available here. This was a really special meal and perfect for celebrating our wedding anniversary. Every course sounded intriguing and used ingredients that sounded delicious, local and top quality. The taste and presentation didn’t disappoint, in fact the intrigue turned to wonder at the amazing flavours, which were so well balanced. The Coleridge Restaurant is such a hidden gem!
What I had
We both had scallops with black pudding to start, with tempura seaweed, yuzu and a scallop roe hollandaise.
For main I had pan fried sea bass fillet with squid ink linguine in a fennel and mussel cream, with baby vegetables.
My husband had chargrilled rib eye steak with baby roast potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled mushroom.
For dessert I had white chocolate panna cotta, poached rhubarb and a sesame and poppyseed tuille with chai tea ice cream.
My husband had the interestingly named ‘Eton tidy’ with clotted cream and strawberries.
Where to start? Everything was superb.
The scallops from the starter were huge and cooked beautifully. There was a good amount of hollandaise and the tempura seaweed added a nice crunchy texture.
The sea bass was again cooked beautifully. The mussels were huge and there were lots of them, and this was all paired with a beautiful sauce. I was very happy with my choice.
The dessert was perhaps my favourite course, because it took me by surprise. I always knew the white chocolate panna cotta was going to be good, but it was the balance of that with all the other parts that amazed me.
The rhubarb was soft, sweet and sharp, but not too sharp, and the chai tea ice cream provided some softly spiced warmth (sounds a bit weird from an ice cream, I know!). With the rich white chocolate and a bit of texture from the tuille, I was in dessert heaven.
Not the best
Before you go into the restaurant you can have a drink and peruse the menu in the lounge next door. The lounge had big windows looking over the beautiful Exmoor countryside, whilst the restaurant had a more cosy feel with fewer windows, soft lighting and dark colours. The restaurant space was much smaller. Personally I would rather have dinner in the lounge with the big windows so everyone can enjoy the views.
The setting of the hotel is stunning – you really feel like you’re in the heart of Exmoor. The verandah looked like it would be a lovely place to sit on a summer’s day, and the inside felt cosy and classy. As per my comment above, I think the lounge space would have been a fantastic place to serve dinner.
Leave plenty of time to get there. It’s down some narrow lanes and unless you’re using sat nav you may find it a little tricky to find. And if you arrive early, that’s more time to enjoy the delightful lounge.