Restaurant Review

The White Hart at Dartington

Perfectly cooked and served food in congenial surroundings is Sue Cade’s verdict on her evening at Dartington

Jeff Cooper
25 April 2016

Approaching through the courtyard at Dartington Hall made for an impressive start to our dinner at the White Hart. Inside the restaurant has a pleasingly cosy and welcoming atmosphere, lots of warm wood and low lighting. The table was adorned with a vase of local foliage, and our window seat allowed us to watch the sky change colour as the evening drew on.

The bread basket almost finished us off before we even started our meal. We just couldn’t hold back – the walnut bread in particular packed with nuts and extremely moreish dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar.

A Vulscombe goats’ cheese starter with heritage tomatoes was a tasty, colourful affair, the tomatoes almost literally bursting with flavour. My guest chose the Brixham crab and Lyme Bay scallop, and being partial to a scallop, I divested her plate of one, which was cooked to perfection, fresh and sweet with natural flavours.

For the main course I sampled the catch of the day, a stone bass with wilted greens and new potatoes. A deceptively simple dish, with the flavour of the bass left to speak for itself, it was served with a subtle caper sauce, balanced on a bed of spring greens and asparagus. I finished every scrap. Across the table I watched the systematic demolishing of the Denbury lamb rump. From the first mouthful all I heard was the word ‘perfect’. The melt-in-your-mouth lamb was accompanied by beetroot puree and herb polenta.

Neither of us imagined we could manage a dessert, but we felt it necessary for the sake of a balanced review. Both dishes were beautifully presented, prompting a comment from a neighbouring diner that they were ‘too pretty to eat’. I had followed the advice of our friendly waitress Kahina, opting for the lemon cream. Not simply a work of art, it was a taste sensation too.

The White Hart has a policy of using locally sourced ingredients, not unusual in itself these days, but evident in the freshness of the food – my stone bass might well have been swimming off Brixham harbour that very morning. I felt no guilt.

Service throughout was spot on - we were happily left to enjoy the food at our own pace. Although we forwent a bottle of wine, my guest had a glass of Pino Grigio – she said she knew she should be having red with lamb, but that it was sublime nonetheless.

All in all, this was my kind of dinner – not pompous or fiddly, simply making the most of superb ingredients served with just the right level of aplomb.

After the meal we took a short stroll around the grounds, taking in the Henry Moore ‘Memorial Figure’. Our visit was well-timed to appreciate an array of stunning magnolia blossoms. For us it was a delicious end to a delightful evening.

The White Hart at Dartington
Dartington Hall

Devon TQ9 6EL

01803 847111

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Taste Buds is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. Taste Buds is produced using Devon-based writers, chefs, photographers and sales team. It is printed on environmentally friendly paper.

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