Review by Collette
We’ve walked past The Royal Seven Stars in Totnes quite a few times over the years. Yet for some strange reason we had never ventured inside the hotel until last month, when we were kindly invited along to sample the new seasonal menu in their TQ9 Restaurant..
The Royal Seven Stars hotel stands at the centre of the vibrant market town of Totnes and is ideally located to explore the surrounding South Devon countryside & coast. The hotel boasts 21 individually styled rooms, a ballroom, a cosy cafe lounge, a bar and a fine dining restaurant. But better still, it’s independent status means that it has carefully selected only the best local businesses to supply their menus, So, since The Devon Foodie is all about supporting West Country fare, we couldn’t wait to see how fresh local produce would translate to their Autumn/Winter menu.
On arrival we were shown into restaurant TQ9 – also known as ‘the hidden restaurant’ – where we found the atmosphere to be cosy and relaxed. Our lovely waitress Bernice brought a jug of water to our table and my husband & I decided to dine from the tabla d’hot’e lunch menu, which offers two courses for £14.95 or three for £17.95.
To start, I opted for the Port Braised Pigs Cheek, Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps & Purée and Crackling. My plate set my lunchtime expectations high, as it was beautifully presented and very well balanced. The pork cheek was buttery, soft and full of flavour; especially when eaten with the artichoke purée. I could have easily eaten a bigger portion of this starter for my main course and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.
Meanwhile, my husband chose the Whitelake Goat’s Curd, Roasted Baby Beets and Beetroot Purée with Rosemary and Nasturtium Leaves. This was also a lovely dish. The goat’s curd was mild and tasty and paired extremely well with the sweet beetroot flavours.
My husband’s main course was fabulous. He chose the Braised Blade of South Devon Beef with Duchess Potatoes, Caramelised Onion Purée, Sauté Girrolles & Shaved Black Truffle with Red Wine Jus. The portion size was just right for him (that mean’s a big plate of food, to you and I) and the beef was tender and rich in flavour. His duchess potatoes were delightfully creamy and the lovely selection of baby vegetables made this dish most enjoyable.
For my main I went for the Pan Fried Halibut with Cauliflower, Picked Cockles, Sea Vegetables & Herb Oil. Again, this plate was beautifully presented, with vibrant pops of colour courtesy of the green and purple cauliflower. The fish was moist and tasty and the circle of chopped and puréed cauliflower was delicious. However, the dish came without any of the pickled cockles and without the sea vegetables which were advertised on the menu.
Apparently, chef had chosen not to include them. This was a real shame because I feel that these elements would have greatly elevated the dish. It also would have been nice to have been informed that the dish was going to be missing these ingredients, because i’d be lying if I said that the cockles and vegetables hadn’t been one of the main reasons I ordered the dish in the first place!
For my dessert, I went for the Poached Pear with Frangipane Tart and Ice Cream. I love poached pears and there really wasn’t anything not to like about this dish. Paired with a beautifully done almond frangipane tart, this sweet dessert was spot on.
My husband had the Butterscotch Parfait with Madeleines, Whiskey, Date Purée and Walnuts. The little spoonful of parfait that I managed to pinch suggests that his dish was also quite lovely. It was full of butterscotch flavour, made even better with the presence of whisky. Overall, two lovely puddings.
What we thought of The Royal Seven Stars
I think it’s fair to say that The Royal Seven Stars is a surprising foodie destination in many ways. In one respect, it’s surprising that behind it’s unassuming facade there lays a restaurant, a ballroom, several function rooms, a bar and a relaxed cafe. What is also surprisingly is the quality of the food and service that we received. Every member of the front of house team was brilliant and made us feel welcome from the off. The food is also made to a good standard and we would certainly return to eat there again. The new Royal Seven Stars’ lunch menu is great value and if you find yourself in Totnes, do make sure to pop in and see for yourself!