I must admit, on our drive down to Devon’s smallest town we did ask ourselves why exactly any one would want to visit Hatherleigh. Aside being surrounded by the wonderful countryside – it’s located on the edge of Dartmoor – the village is fairly remote and hardly convenient to get to. However, after our visit I can safely say that there’s a very good reason to make the trip: The George.
The George is a quaint looking establishment – complete with a traditional thatched roof and cream facade. The original 15th century inn was subject to a devastating fire back in 2008 (which completely gutted the whole building) and its owners were tasked with the job of sympathetically rebuilding the pub from the ground up, using reclaimed and salvaged materials. It’s safe to say, they did a pretty good job both inside and out.
We arrived early in the afternoon and made our way to the bar to check in, where we were met by a friendly member of staff who kindly showed us to our accommodation for the evening. I must admit, I was impressed by the size of our room. We were staying in one of the hotel’s ‘superior rooms’ which came with a four poster bed and a roll top bath, as well as a full sized mirror, a television, and tea & coffee making facilities.
After settling in, we went for a bit of a nosey around and eventually found ourselves enjoying a drink in the bar area, which overlooks an outside courtyard. While my partner sat with a pint, I opted for a tea and we decided to do a spot of people watching..
Judging by the sheer number of people coming and going, it was quickly becoming apparent that The George is a popular spot. Apparently, a lot of guests stop by for refreshments or for an overnight stay on their way to or from Cornwall. There were holiday makers, cyclists, hikers and a fair number of locals; so we were excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Dinner is Served
For dinner we were given the opportunity to sample a tasting menu of Head Chef Joe Dibley’s favourite creations and having already caught a glimpse of this 23 year olds cooking abilities online, we knew we were in for a bit of a treat.
To start, we were presented with a plate of Scallops, Cauliflower Puree and Chorizo. The dish was visually stunning and as you can see on the photo above, the inclusion of edible flowers really made it look a picture. The scallops were beautifully cooked, being caramelised on the outside with a soft centre, while the cauliflower puree had just a hint of spice. The chorizo (which I saved to the end) really finished the dish nicely.
Next we had Ham Hock Bonbon with Apple & Mustard Sauce and Fried Quails Eggs. I love quails eggs and these ones were particularly packed with flavour. I thought that they went especially well with the ham hock bonbon, which was soft and delicious – not to mention an ingenious way of steering away from the usual compact slab of meat that you so often get served when you order such a dish.
Our first main course dish was Grilled Chicken Supreme, Asparagus, Braised Baby Gem Lettuce and Croquet Potato with Brandy Sauce. The chicken was fabulous, as it was succulent yet the skin was incredibly crispy. The potato croquet was not dissimilar to a roast potato in taste and the asparagus was delightfully buttery and slightly charred for extra flavour. This was a high quality dish that we would both happily eat again.
Our next dish was Sea Bass Fillet with Hasselback Potatoes, Ratatouille and a Salsa Verde.
Now this was the only dish that divided our opinions. Without a doubt, the fish was beautifully cooked. Once again, the skin was crisp and full of flavour whilst the meat itself was moist. However, I wasn’t too keen on pairing sea bass with ratatouille. While the texture and flavour of the ratatouille was excellent, I just didn’t think the combination worked and I would have been equally happy with the salsa verde alone. My partner, on the other hand, felt that the ratatouille went well on the plate but thought that the salsa verde overpowered the fish!
Overall, I can’t fault any of the technical elements of the dish but it wasn’t quite to either of our personal tastes.
Up next was a Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Crispy potatoes, Assiette of Peas and Jus. Oh boy, does Chef know how to cook meat! The lamb was cooked perfectly pink and the fat – with its herby crust – was so good I could have eaten more. As for the assiette of peas and jus, this was really a fancy way of saying ‘peas with tiny pieces of ham’ but it was delicious.
Again, another superb dish.
The aptly named ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ was our first dessert and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a cocktail, as it was served in a fun martini glass. We both really enjoyed it – although I definitely should have enjoyed it on my own, as Mr Big Spoon managed to polish it off far quicker than I did… It was fruity and zingy and acted as a great palate cleanser for what was to come…
The showstopper of the evening had to be ‘The Chocolate Garden’.
Our lovely waitress Sarah (who is also Chef Joe’s partner) led me into the kitchens to watch him assemble this impressive dessert. First he transfers his just-baked, gooey chocolate fondant into a waiting terracotta pot, then he adds the chocolate soil and crumb, on goes a moist – albeit green – sprinkling of sponge cake, and then some delightful meringue mushrooms, raspberries, edible flowers and chocolate truffles. This was a really charming finish to what had been a brilliant meal and it’s safe to say that we were taken aback by the quality of each and every dish.
At the end of our meal we met with the proprietors Christian and Diane and it was clear that their passion for good service and their eye for detail is in part key to the success of the inn. Although The George at Hatherleigh is a local pub for many, it offers fabulous accommodation and the food they serve is of a very impressive quality. There’s a basic bar menu that is all priced under £10 or you have the chance to sample something closer to fine dining courtesy of Head Chef Joe. Without a doubt, we would recommend paying The George a visit, as I dare say they may have a future culinary star in their midst.
Want to WIN a stay at The George?
If you like what you’ve read here then you’re in luck! We’re giving you the opportunity to win a stay for 2 at The George with a meal for 2 and bottle of fizz upon arrival.
More details to follow shortly…