Review: Two Bridges Hotel, Dartmoor
PUBLISHED: 11:59 13 March 2017
Discover the charms of Dartmoor from the comfort of the Two Bridges Hotel, says Emily Diamond
Situated in the heart of Dartmoor’s National Park, driving through the wild moors to reach the charmingly rustic Two Bridges Hotel is how I’d imagine it would be to step back in time into the Thomas Hardy country of Wessex or the unyielding landscape of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Ponies and their foals graze by the roadside and gallop freely over the terrain; here, there’s a palpable sense of romanticism and abandon, which you’d expect from such a place of beauty that has inspired many great works of fiction. Originally built as a coaching inn by Sir Frances Buller in 1792, the Two Bridges Hotel is steeped in history and played host to many notable guests, including Sabine Baring-Gould, Vivien Leigh and HRH Prince Charles.
Upon arrival, we nestle ourselves in armchairs beside a roaring fireplace to enjoy our drinks; Dartmoor Brewery ale for my husband and a crisp yet fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for myself, courtesy of Tavistock wine merchant Charles Steevenson. Fragrant peach and tropical passionfruit flavours are balanced with sharp gooseberry, citrus and herbal grassy tones. The atmosphere is friendly and informal, seemingly typical of a pastoral Devonian establishment, but its modest nature belies the excellence of the fare that follows; in my husband’s words, it’s “the best meal I’ve ever eaten”.
We’re offered double AA rosette award-winning executive chef, Mike Palmer’s taster menu, which showcases a selection of inspired dishes, meticulously prepared and artfully presented. To begin, we enjoy Asparagus velouté with truffle cream, smooth and rich - with the heady fragrance of truffle - yet also fresh and light. My husband starts with black pudding scotch quail egg with Sladesdown guinea fowl terrine, candied apple, raisin and walnut. My crispy quail egg with wild garlic mayonnaise and candied walnuts perfectly complements tender seasonal English asparagus.
My husband’s main course presents three ways with Dartmoor Lamb; rare rump steak, fragrant shepherd’s pie and belly with wild garlic and lamb jus. My monkfish is elegantly spiced, beautifully grilled and served with aromatic king prawn masala, sagaloo and onion bhaji.
We share two ‘pre-desserts’ of chocolate praline mousse with honeycomb and popping candy and marinated pineapple with rum granite. Dessert itself is all about the Cornish strawberries, served two ways; with white chocolate pannacotta, honeycomb pieces, shards of meringue and buttery praline shortbread and also atop a fresh strawberry jelly, served with honeycomb and meringue. We finish with coffees and homemade petit-fours, including fruit pastels, chocolate hazelnut truffles, vanilla fudge and strawberry mousse.
Although elegant and indulgent, the menu comprises many small plates of superbly prepared food, which strikes the perfect balance. Comfortably satiated, we spend a restful night in one of the well-appointed premier suites. Boasting a faultless dinner menu, idyllic views and country charm, the Two Bridges Hotel is the perfect destination for a romantic weekend mini-break; venture into the heart of the moors and allow the dedicated staff to look after everything as you enjoy all that Dartmoor has to offer.