Rebecca Fox enjoys a taste of France in the heart of Dartmouth
Walk alongside the glistening Dart estuary, turn behind the lower ferry, and tucked down a quiet street, you will discover a haven for French cuisine. Owner Denise Tarriela has created a Paris-inspired bistro serving provincial dishes to make your mouth water. Far from pretentious, Twentysix is perfect for a sneaky latte with a croissant, brunch or lunch as well as a more formal evening dining menu.
Recently launched by the team behind Twentysix's sister restaurant in Teignmouth, this bistro has a homely, welcoming yet stylish environment which creates a relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle (even with my one-year-old in tow). French music adds to the ambience and nothing is too much trouble for the attentive and friendly staff.
From the lunchtime menu, I chose the basket of warm breads – which included buchette noire (rye bread), pain aux noix (walnut bread), fruit bread and rustic baguette with olives – with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, presented on a wooden bread board. These artisan breads, sourced both from France and from Shaldon Bakery, were an appetising mix of unusual flavours. The undoubted star of the show was the dark-brown walnut bread, which I had imagined would taste heavy and dense – instead it was light and airy with a rich, almost chocolatey quality.
My friend chose the rilette de crab to start: potted Brixham crab served in a small kilner jar with toasted granary bread. This delicious mix of brown and white local crab meat meant the jar was almost licked clean!
Chef Daniel Archer's daily specials board highlights local fish with a French twist. I picked the fillet of Brixham gurnard (pan-fried to give a crispy skin full of flavour) with petits pois à la français, a broth of smoked crispy bacon and peas. Quite a light dish, perfect for lunch, but filling too and comforting to know that Daniel sources all the fish from Brixham suppliers, Kingfisher and Channel Fisheries. My friend's steak baguette also went down a treat. The tender minute steak with sautéed red onions served with Dijon mustard had a rustic feel, once again on a wooden bread board.
To follow, we enjoyed a cup of Twentysix's home blend of coffee and gazed longingly at the lovely range of sweets from freshly baked brownies and pastries to intensely pink homemade Turkish delight. If only we had saved some room for pudding! We'll just have to come back for more another time. Mangez bien!
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