Here at A Taste of Devon, we love to try a variety of flavours and experiences from across Devon, so when we were invited to an Evening with 2 Star Michelin Chef Michael Caines at The Coach House – the rather stunning restaurant at Kentisbury Grange, Barnstaple – we jumped at the chance!
The evening included a six course taster menu, with each dish accompanied with a perfectly paired wine.
This event was so eagerly anticipated that it sold out of tickets within 24 hours, quite a mean feat and testament to the reputation that Michael Caines MBE has with food lovers in the area. It was a true celebration of food, wine and excellent service in an exquisite location – with the coming together of not only one of the UK’s best chefs but also one of his acclaimed colleague and head chef at the hosting hotel, Jean Marc Zanetti.
The restaurant is not only is a wonderful place to eat. it is also a truly magnificent and beautiful building. Rather fittingly named after the converted coach house that it calls its home. The restaurant is within the stunning gardens of the manor house hotel.
Michael Caines is a true food hero in the south west and a chef that not only brings some delicious European flavours but also champions the produce from the local area making sure that he brings both of these worlds together.
After a glass of bubbly and the chance to socialise with the evenings guests, we were personally welcomed by Michael and his team.
First up were the pan fried Brixham scallops served with a caramelised cauliflower puree with sweet raisin vinaigrette & cumin velouté, a flavoursome way to start the proceedings, this was accompanied by a fresh and fruit Viognier.
Next up for us to try was the truly rich and indulgent, but light, Chicken and Foie Gras Terrine wrapped in Serrano ham, finished with girolles and a liver cream. The wine selection for this course was a Portuguese Esporao, Reservation Branco 2011.
Next up was the Red Mullet with a Spanish Verdejo. The Red Mullet smelled amazing, it’s strong taste enhanced by the heady mix of spices, tangy saffron and moreish fennel.
It was topped with a delicate tomato quenelle and crispy shallot onion rings and served with a spiced ketchup sauce.
No taster menu would be complete without some game and in this case roasted partridge was on the menu. Served with quince puree, marinated raisins and braised chicory, this was a complex dish with smoky, rich and delicate flavours; paired beautifully with a 2011 Brouilly.
Up next, a favourite meat of mine – venison. The saddle is a wonderfully tender cut of meat, and this was done justice with a chestnut puree, braised red cabbage and smoked belly pork – all enhanced with a venison and jasmine sauce.
The final dish of the evening was a truly sweet treat! A raspberry mousse with pistachio cream, a raspberry macaroon and a raspberry sorbet. Not only did this dish look utterly spellbinding, it tasted like it too – this was made all the more decadent with a glass of South Afrian Mellifera dessert wine.
At the end of the evening guests had chance to talk with Jean-Marc and Michael, one suitably impressed guest told us “I’ve seen what Damien Hirst has done for Ilfracombe and what Michael’s doing here (North Devon) is similar, it’s raising the area”
We asked Michael what he thought of this feedback, “It’s a fabulous analogy and I’m really honoured to have that comparison, I mean Devon is my home county and predominately I’ve stayed around Exeter and mid-Devon, I felt that coming to North Devon was a great progression, it’s a great honour”
“We’ve seen tonight, that given the location, the right opportunity we can put on a fantastic event – it’s been a buzzing night and everybody has loved it”
You may have guessed from our review (and our live twitter feed from the night) that we thoroughly enjoyed our time at this wonderful restaurant. If you are looking for a night of treating yourself then this one comes highly recommended!