Review by Collette
Boringdon Hall is a stunning 16th century manor house that is steeped in history and has found a new lease of life in the last century as a hotel, spa and fine dining restaurant. Located just 5 miles from Plymouth and 8 miles from the stunning Dartmoor National Park, Boringdon Hall places food and drink at the forefront and specialises in ‘intimate, classic and memorable dining experiences’ that are underpinned by discreet and attentive service. It has been on my wish list since I first caught a glimpse of its à la carte menu and the hotel’s lovely new spa back in August. With a shiny new spa and a sparkling foodie reputation, this was one location that was too tempting to resist…
My husband and I arrived one Saturday afternoon last November for a bed, breakfast and evening meal stay and after check-in our first port of call was to investigate the hotel’s new Gaia Spa. Situated in a new block, the spa does not attempt to stay in-keeping with the original property’s aesthetic. In fact, it appears to be quite the opposite, with its glass walls and unique contemporary art. I was impressed with what I had seen and the temptation to book in an afternoon treatment proved a little too much. Next we found ourselves perusing the many wonderful cakes on offer in the spa’s café restaurant; and while we waited for our treatments, we indulged in a raspberry slice and a fresh fruit tart along with two cups of tea.
Before sitting down to our evening meal we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and complimentary nibbles in Borringdon’s Great Hall. This is a lovely area where you are free to relax and ready your appetite for the dining experience to come. They also offer lighter meals in the hall, but after a recommendation from a friend we asked to dine in the gallery overlooking the hall instead and we were promptly seated at what we were assured were some of the best seats in the house. As diehard foodies, we chose to sample the taster menu designed by Head Chef Scott Paton; opting out of the accompanying wines in favour of a bottle of English fizz (which surprisingly lasted us the whole evening!)
To start, we were each presented with a tiny Kilner jar containing a juicy, sweet pear compote in the bottom along with a layer of a blue cheese mouse and topped with a very fine and tasty walnut crumb. We both agreed that this dish was a great start to the meal, as the flavours and textures all married together beautifully.
We were then served a stunning dish of beetroot and soft, mild goat’s cheese accompanied by little jewels of elderflower gel. Again, this was a triumph of a dish and was a plate that my husband claimed to be his overall favourite dish of the night.
The next plate also scored highly in terms of presentation. A combination of sweet crab and mango, this dish was perfectly balanced and tasted as good as it looked. The combination of meaty crab and smooth gels was really pleasant and I would definitely order it again.
Up next we were served soft sweet breads with chicken and a teriyaki sauce. The chicken was fabulously cooked – as it was very tender – and the sweat breads were tasty. However, I usually prefer my sweet breads to be cooked crispy rather than soft, so I wasn’t 100% sold on this particular course.
The next dish was a celebration of duck, containing two pieces of duck breast, together with a crispy tube filled with confit duck and jus. Again, this was delicious, but my husband was convinced that he could have done with a bigger portion (which I don’t suppose is a bad thing).
Prior to dessert, we were served a fairly extensive cheese selection, complete with biscuits, candied walnuts, fruit gels and chutneys. Unfortunately, the waiter who brought us our plates was rather rushed and therefore failed to explain what any of the different cheeses or gels were, which was rather a shame as I feel that it would have added to our enjoyment of the meal.
Dessert itself came in two parts. One was white chocolate tart with a peanut brittle and sour cherry sorbet. Personally I’m not a great lover of chocolate desserts, but this one was so well-balanced and light that both of us enjoyed it and I dare say I could even have eaten more if offered.
Our second dessert was an homage to the wonderful combination that is mint and chocolate. Usually I can’t get enough of these two flavours (particular in After Eight form) but sadly I was not sold with this plate. The accompanying sorbet just didn’t work for me and the chocolate was far too rich. On the other hand, my husband loved it and subsequently went on to polish off the rest of mine…
We finished our lovely evening with coffee and macarons back in the Great Hall and it’s fair to say that the staff were friendly and attentive throughout our meal. We had been served by two lovely and knowledgeable young ladies who made our evening even more enjoyable and I have to say that they did Borringdon Hall proud.
After dinner we returned to our room to find that the bedding had been turned down, slippers and robes were laid out for our use and a tray containing sleep inducing lemon balm and a bag of lavender fudge was sat by the four poster bed – all of which were absolutely lovely touches!
Unfortunately, breakfast service the following morning was not the best. Our drinks orders were taken and then forgotten and we had to ask several times for our juice and toast (which to be honest we could have helped ourselves to in the first place). The Full English Breakfast was perfectly fine, but again the waitress forgot our condiments, and when I asked for an omelet (which I admit was not on the menu and they kindly obliged) I sadly had to leave it due discovering quite a bit of rouge egg shell. To be fair, the staff were clearly very busy and these things do happen sometimes. But I did find that it was quite a remarkable contrast to splendid dinner service the night before.
Upon checking out we were given a little goodie bag for our journey home, including two bottles of still water and two boxes of macaroons. Again, this was another lovely added touch that showed a commitment to going above and beyond our expectations.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at Boringdon Hall and we will definitely be returning. The atmosphere was warm and relaxed, while the building itself was fantastically quirky. The staff are friendly and obliging and most importantly our evening meal was excellent.