A Showcase of West Country Fare
Written by Gabriella
Last week we were kindly invited to The Salutation Inn (Topsham) for an evening of good food and hospitality. Their Summer Showcase Dinner was a chance to show off the fine seasonal produce that they use in their menus and also shed some light on the Westcountry businesses who supply them. Here are a few snaps from our night:
First on the agenda was a glass of Salcombe Gin & Tonic, served alfresco with a slice of grapefruit. We’re big fans of Salcombe Gin, so we couldn’t think of a better way to kick off proceedings, especially on such a warm summers evening. These pink-hued drinks were served alongside some rather lovely canapes, which included a Williams Farm quail egg, Wild River Exe salmon crostini and some delicious Country Cheese gougère.
After mingling in the courtyard we took our seats inside in the Glass House, where handwritten placeholders marked our tables. The Glass House is a beautiful atrium-like building that houses a number of tables and is often used for Afternoon Teas and lunches. We shared our table with two lovely couples – the owners of local greengrocery Richards Fruit & Veg and friendly mushroom growers Forest Fungi.
The first dish of the evening was a chilled gazpacho soup with summer herbs. This was packed with all the vibrant flavours of summer, including a spicy hit of Tabasco. The presentation of this dish was quite the talking point, as it was served in a uniquely shaped glass bowl over crushed ice.
Next, we were treated to Crispy Kenniford Farm ham hock, Lyme Bay scallop, peas and Topsham sea vegetables. This was a very satisfying combination of surf & turf elements and once again the presentation was beautiful. So far, we were mighty impressed by the quality of local ingredients and the talents of the kitchen team.
The main event of the evening was Greendale Farm beef sirloin, Forest Fungi Hen of the Wood, braised Jacob’s Ladder, English asparagus, red wine jus. Yet again, this was an accomplished course. There was a touch too much meat on the plate for my liking but this was not a complaint I heard from many other diners. Afterall, you can rarely go wrong with the quality of beef supplied by Greendale Farm. The Forest Fungi Hen of the Wood mushroom – not to be confused with Chicken of the Wood – was a delicate, nutty thing of beauty and the asparagus was excellently cooked.
After a quick break, we were presented with ‘A chase of Country Cheeses’. This course featured a variety of different fromage from the local Country Cheeses shop in Topsham, along with some grapes, celery sticks, candied walnuts and quince jelly. Varieties of cheese included: Keens Extra Mature, Gary’s Bliss cheese (our personal favourite), Cranborne soft cheese and Smoked Mayfield.
Finally, guests were treated to Clifton Coffee and Petit Fours which included a colourful selection of summery treats such as macarons, G&T jellies and homemade pieces of fudge. This went down very well among all of the evenings guests and we have to admit that we even took a couple of the Petit Fours home with us to enjoy later!
Do we recommend The Salutation Inn?
Our evening at The Salutation Inn was filled with warm service and smiles. Every dish we sampled was superbly executed and we admired the commitment to West Country provenance. I have to admit, it’s hard to ascertain the quality of a restaurant when an event is put on for the sole purpose of entertaining local journalists and suppliers. The Salutation Inn undoubtedly pulled out all of the stops to make their Summer Showcase Dinner a memorable evening. But judging by the enthusiasm with which every plate of food was served and the technical abilities that were displayed throughout the evening, we’re confident that The Salutation Inn is a high-quality establishment year-round and is well worth a visit if you’re after a fine dining experience in a warm and romantic setting.