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|Address:||Trinity Square, Axminster, Devon EX13 5AN|
|Price: £33.00||Wine: £14.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 9am-3pm, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Sun 12pm-3:30pm|
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I was excited about Sunday lunch at Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen. To enter the restaurant you walk first through the annexed shop / deli packed with local Cheeses, freshly baked breads and pastries. Then into the light, airy dining room with vaulted ceiling and hotch-potch of wooden chairs. This, I thought is HFW’s showcase for seasonal, local produce and I studied the blackboard menu. Firstly I was surprised that A4 paper ‘Wine List’ offered a ‘Winter Warmer’, given that we were well into April. Secondly that there was no still or sparkling mineral water available (changing suppliers) or any soft drinks apart from fruit juices. The bread momentarily perked me up. Then for the starters, Wild Garlic soup which was losing heat by the second due to being served on a dinner plate, a salad of goats cheese (truffle size shavings) with Hazelnuts (autumnal surely?) all coated with sticky balsamic which killed the entire dish. A glass of iceless tap water later and the £17 Roast arrived I hoped would save the day. Once crispy Roast Potatoes sat soggily in a puddle of jus / thin gravy with decent vegetables, two fatty, chewy pork slices and spoonful of mash. No condiments offered which was a great shame as English Mustard or Horseradish could have brought some much needed flavour to the dish. All credit to the staff, the question of uneaten food was dealt with and we left with some excellent produce from the shop. It seems Hugh is following the well trodden route of celebrity Chefs. Pity that.