The Mill End Hotel has been in the ownership of Tara and Nick Culverhouse now for nearly two years. Jill Pendelton, the previous owner of Dartmoor Accommodation was a regular visitor to Mill End as it was just next door, however since taking ownership of the website in 2014 I had not had the pleasure of eating at the hotel, however after a call earlier in the year from Tara that has now all changed as she had asked us to do a ‘mystery shop’ food blog on the Hotel.
We are always happy to accept missions like this, so Julian and I booked a table online via their website, so as not to give the game away. The website shows a sample dinner menu so we could get a good understanding as to what to expect, however I would say the sample menu could do with being changed to reflect the seasonal changes they make, or give users the ability to download the current menu (a personal preference of mine, but it is surprising how many restaurants don’t publish their menus!)
So with the table reservation made we headed across the Moor for an ‘early doors’ meal on a Friday night in April.
Upon arrival on a slightly overcast evening there were still people sat outside in the attractive gardens. We headed on in and we were greeted and shown through to a very comfy lounge and offered pre-dinner drinks whilst we perused the menus.
Obviously for me it had to be a G&T (Hendricks and Fever Tree) and Julian opted for one of the local ales they served, they had a choice of Jail Ale, Legend and Tribute. So nice to see the restaurant supporting local producers.
The drinks arrived swiftly and our food orders were taken very efficiently. Whilst we enjoyed our drinks I took the opportunity to have a sneaky nose around and take some pictures of public spaces of the hotel.
I loved the ‘Little Lounge’ what a great place to have that romantic dinner for two!
Soon after my little recce our waiter came through to show us through to the restaurant. The restaurant is located in the front of the hotel and as you can see from the pictures is very nicely furnished. We were given a lovely table in the corner that was quite private and had a view over the water wheel behind us.
The service was very good and as soon as we had sat down we were offered homemade breads – Julian chose the sunblush tomato bread and I had the white – both were lovely (although butter was a little hard). I also ordered a glass of their house Sauvignon Blanc to accompany my meal, Julian stuck with his ale.
A delightful Amuse Bouche was served which consisted of Butternut squash and thyme and really whetted the appetite for the next course.
For those amongst you that know me well, you will know I am not a great fish eater, however since moving to this part of the country and being surrounded by some of the best fish I am broadening my palate and trying a lot more fish dishes. I am still relatively fussy and am definitely not at the stage where I could contemplate a fishes head looking at me from a plate, but Julian often has scallops and I have commented before how tasty they look. So, the point to my story here, is that we chose to share the Scallop dish as our starter.
The Brixham seared scallops were presented with green apple, chorizo and chickpea roasted in lemon and tarragon butter, well I was not disappointed, they tasted as good as they looked. So why oh why had I not tried them before! Perhaps taste buds change as you get older – in my 45th year I have now discovered Gin and Scallops – rather a lethal combination!
On to the main event. I chose the Gnocchi, again something I would not have normally chosen. The Gnocchi was sautéed with wild mushrooms and served with parmesan, rocket and truffle oil. Again I was not disappointed with my choice, the dish was very light and left me room for a desert
Also just to say the House Sauvignon Blanc was from New Zealand and was really refreshing and reasonably priced for the quality.
Julian ordered the West Country Pork Trio which consisted of slow roasted pork belly stuffed with apricots and herbs, home smoked pork tenderloin and sticky pork cheek presented with winter greens and sweet potato mash. The clean plate at the end of the course was testament to the quality of the dish.
On to pudding – I had already spotted the Chocolate Fondant on the menu earlier so I was hoping I was going to have room for desert! So my choice was made. Julian opted for the Cheese selection and chose the Wild Garlic Yarg, Dorset Red and Beenleigh Blue.
The fondant was cooked to perfection and had the melt in the middle ooze! Julian thoroughly enjoyed the cheeses his favourite probably being the Beenleigh Blue of his selection.
After the puds we were beat and didn’t have any room left for coffees, so we asked for the bill.
The whole meal with drinks came to a total of £85.45.
On leaving we had a bit more of a nosey at the new rooms they have been working on at the rear of the hotel, they looked like they were going to be lovely so I am looking forward to my return visit to review the new rooms!