Torquay may be synonymous with Basil Fawlty and co, but The Elephant has put this Devon seaside stalwart back on the foodie map for all the right reasons.
Boasting a gorgeous location overlooking the English Riviera, here is a capacious modern destination with lots of possibilities – a Michelin-starred restaurant for the whole family (unlike a lot of its contemporaries, children are warmly welcomed, and the team encourage bringing along little guests).
The action takes place in a casual bare-boarded room with terrific harbour views and a menu of bang-up-to-date brasserie cooking fuelled by produce from chef/proprietor Simon Hulstone’s 69-acre Devon farm. The dishes change as the months roll by, to reflect availability and seasonality, but to give you an idea a starter of chilled tomato soup with horseradish cream and nasturtium oil might precede duckling with braised chicory, heritage beets and an elderflower sauce or tortellini of ricotta with herb puree, pickled mushrooms and cepe foam. There’s Devon-reared beef too, while sustainable fish from the West Country boats could yield lime-cured bay mackerel with kohlrabi remoulade with crispy clams and dill dressing. After that, perhaps try Southdown Farm strawberry tart with Anise Hysopp ice cream and pink peppercorns for a light, fruity finish. Cheery service does what’s needed, and the wine list offers excellent value.
Despite its Michelin star credentials (having held the accolade for over 14 years now), prices are reasonable, with mains starting from £15. If you have a spare afternoon to treat yourself there is a set menu that offers great-value too, at £21.50 for two courses. With this there are only two options for each course, but the food usually offers a couple of crowd-pleasers like roast belly pork with parsnip puree or a beautifully cooked piece of hake.
As might be expected with a restaurant of such reputation, tables do get booked up well in advance. We’d recommend getting your date in the diary well-ahead of your visit.