Sue Cade enjoys all things coastal and top-notch service at this special North Devon hotel
Arriving in North Devon on a dark, drizzling evening, it was an absolute pleasure to enter the wonderful Woolacombe Bay Hotel for a step-back-in-time experience of traditional values and service.
Doyle’s Restaurant is an atmospheric, spacious dining room with striking décor. The winter winds meant my guest, PM, and I could hear the waves crashing onto the magnificent Woolacombe Bay, adding an extra dimension of excitement to our dining experience.
Restaurant manager Zoltan showed us to our table; he was extremely attentive, a trait shared by his friendly restaurant team, who made sure we enjoyed our meal every step of the way, without intruding on our girly catch-up.
We were clearly in a fishy mood, as PM plumped for fried squid and I scoffed the scallops. Both were cooked to perfection. Not usually a squid fan, I tried a mouthful and was more than pleasantly surprised. I would have happily eaten the lot, although PM fought me off.
I stayed with the fish theme, thoroughly enjoying a locally caught pan-fried wild sea bass fillet served with rissole potatoes, confit leek, balsamic roasted beetroot and crispy tarragon, which simply burst with flavours of sea and land. PM chose the Creedy Carver duck, which came with Devon blue cheese crushed potatoes, kale, a crispy duck leg meatball, port and redcurrant sauce – it was delicious, as I discovered when I purloined a forkful. We both plumped for a Prosecco Viticoltori Ponte to accompany our meal and pronounced it to be one of the nicest either of us had tasted for some time.
There was just enough room for desserts. I savoured a delicate white chocolate and raspberry crème brûlée, PM picked a banana and pistachio crumble with white chocolate crumble, a seasonally robust pud.
The hotel kindly put us up in their newly refurbished beach apartments. Our two-bedroom accommodation overlooking the lido was light, spacious and comfortable, prompting a pact to make a return visit before long.
Sue loves: the grandiose ambiance, attentive service and delectable squid
Sue Cade loves the atmosphere, cooking and home-grown nature of dinner at this popular café, now open on Friday evenings
Alex Green enjoys the quality food on offer at this proper Devon pub
Breathtaking views and a truly memorable dining experience
Karen Perrow enjoys some memorable flavour combinations at this waterside restaurant
Alex Green enjoys a relaxing family dining experience in this renovated pub
Su Carroll savours her experience at this award-winning restaurant