Review by Gaby
*Ok, so this write up is long overdue. Not only did we visit The Pig at Combe and take these photos a few months ago, but we’ve actually been back time and again since then. So apologies for my delay in getting it online!
The Pig Hotel is arguably situated in one of the most beautiful period properties in all of Devon. I used to visit the hotel back when it was The Combe House and I have always maintained that there is something a little bit magical about this honey-coloured manor house. Nestled in the beautiful Combe Estate, near Honiton, the building really is quite something and The Pig Group have gone the extra mile to create a truly boutique countryside experience with their latest hotel.
The historic entrance and ‘Great Hall’ has been converted into the main bar area and before we sat down to our meal, we enjoyed drinks here and grazed on a selection board of seasonal canapés. These included mini scotch eggs, delicate cuttlefish, crab bites and fresh pieces of radish. These little nibbles were just the right size and nicely showcased the kitchens abilities. I adore the bar area, and while I do miss its old appearance, I think the new owners have done a marvellous job at giving the building a new, sympathetic lease of life.
The main dining area is also beautifully decorated, with painted wooden panels, unique wall decorations and terracotta pots filled with edible herbs – modern rustic at its best. We chose our meals while we sat in the bar area and were pleased to learn that the menu changes to reflect the seasons (as well as the hotel garden) and everything is sourced from 25 miles of the property.
For our starters we enjoyed a fresh Smoked Salmon dish, a flavoursome pate and a vibrant Watercress Soup. I love the plates that The Pig use to present their food – they’re just another little aesthetic touch that sets the restaurant aside.
This aptly named rose is the product of a unique collaboration between THE PIG Hotels and M. Chapoutier. Three wines, a white, red and rosé, were specially blended and labelled for each of THE PIG Hotel group properties. I really appreciated the original label artwork by artist Will Dozer and the rose itself was really light and refreshing (perfect for a lunchtime).
In between our starters and our mains, we were surprised with a couple of additional dishes that were arguable the highlight of our meal! One was a fragrant plate of steam clams with a silky sauce and perfectly cooked pasta. The other was an asparagus dish with poached quails eggs and a balsamic dressing. This was excellent.
For our mains we opted for a Dressed Crab dish, a vegetarian dish of Beetroot & Caramelised Rhubarb (with Whitelake Goats Curd, Crispy Shallots & Sprouting Seeds) and Devonshire Seared Duck Breast. Again, no complaints with any of these dishes. All of the ingredients were well cooked & fresh, while the plates well presented all round.
My only one negative observation about the food – and it doesn’t have to be perceived as such – is that it’s a touch on the pricey side. £19 for a main plus £3.95 per side isn’t exactly cheap when there are three or four of you eating and I suppose I expected fancy gels and dry ice for that sort of price. However, while it isn’t fine dining per se, it is exceedingly good food, and I suppose that is what you are paying for ultimately.
After lunch we enjoyed an alfresco cup of tea with petit fours on the veranda overlooking the lawn. The views from this spot are spectacular and on a sunny day you can’t really beat them (plus there’s also the Folly around the other side that you can visit if there’s space).
We were very impressed with lunch at The Pig Hotel. While we loved the hotel when it used to be The Combe House, The Pig Group has done an amazing job of creating a truly boutique experience with fabulous decor and great food. I really admire their attention to detail and having walked through their gardens and seen the quails they keep, taken a look inside their in-house smoker and nibbled on various garden plants (with permission of course) I can definitely see the appeal of this hotel group. Overall, The Pig Hotel definitely gets The Devon Foodie approval.