Saturday, 13 August 2011

Sunday Lunch at Kitley House, Yealmpton, Devon - 7 August 2011

As we were driving along in the rain we suddenly spotted a sign saying something about Sunday lunches. It being late lunch time, we spun the car around and turned back to see if there was something edible on offer. For a while it looked a bit doubtful; after the initial welcoming sign advertising lunches, there was a long narrow lane overgrown with trees and shrubs surrounded by fields, with no signs to indicate that there was any activity, let alone a restaurant, at the end of it. But finally we got to a large stone house. We were relieved to see that there were lots of cars parked outside, as there were no other signs saying that it was a hotel and restaurant. We tentatively parked the car and went inside to have a look, and were warmly greeted by a member of staff. She invited us in for Sunday Lunch, assuring us that we were more than welcome, although the menu stated that the lunch service would end fifteen minutes later. The restaurant was quite busy, but the waiters kindly rearranged a couple of small tables for us so that all three of us could dine together. 

When the food arrived I knew we had made the right choice coming there. The presentation was beautiful, both for my 'Red Pepper and Tomato Soup' and the 'Chicken & Asparagus Terrine with Jumble of Dressed Leaves and Fruit Chutney'. My soup was lovely smooth and sweet, with crunchy fried strips of leeks decorating the middle. My friends said the terrine was also very nice, with flavours that complimented each other beautifully.

While waiting for the main course to arrive I leaned back in my comfortable chair and looked around me in the sumptuous red old library. The decor and furniture were beautiful, but had definitely seen better days. There was a slight air of reduced grandeour, with everything a bit worn out. We quietly whispered to each other that they really did need some more paying guests to afford some restoration. But in spite of the slight run-down look, the whole building still had an athmospere of luxury and comfort, and a lingering memory of a bygone, more affluent, era.

The main courses swiftly arrived. We had ordered the 'Field Mushrooms filled with Wild Mushroom Duxelle wrapped in Puff Pastry served on a Roast Pepper Coulis and Rosti Potato', the  'Delice of Grilled Salmon with Smoked Salmon Mash and Asparagus Spears', and the 'Roast Pork with Apple Sauce, New Season Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables'. My mushrooms were a bit too rubbery for my liking, but the rest of the meal was delicious. The carrot was sweet and soft, the green beans cooked al dente, and the rosti soft and tasty. But I have to say that the best bit was the sauce; a red pepper coulis. While being sweet and delicate, the flavour was also fresh and powerful. My only complaint is that there wasn't quite enough of it, I could have eaten spoonfuls more. I'll have to try to replicate it at home, it was too delicious to only be eaten once. The salmon was, I was told, also delicious, particularly the mash which had smoked salmon in it. The pork, however, received mixed reviews. The sauce was nice but not exciting, the potatoes were roasted but must have rested a bit too long, for their skin was hard and chewy. And the green beans were a little too al dente. But the pork itself was delicious, which made the meal worth eating.

After all this food I was starting to feel quite full, but since we were there, and since it was such a lovely place, we decided to make an occasion of it, and so we ordered dessert as well. The dessert was an easy choice for all three of us; 'Dark Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Tagliatelle' (we're all chocaholics). It was a very pretty cake, beautifully flavoured and textured, and the perfect companion for both coffee and hot chocolate (made with nutella and steamed milk - yummy). 

In the end it was time to leave and drive on towards our destination. I was in that happy state where my tummy was full but not uncomfortable, and I couldn't help but smile even thouh it was raining heavily; I had thoroughly enjoyed myself over the last few hours. The food was excellent, the staff were friendly and curteous; what more could you want. I would strongly recommend that you make a detour to Kitley House should you find yourself nearby. 

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