I first heard of Simon Hulstone and his restaurant, The Elephant, when he appeared on BBC’s Great British Menu a few years back. His food looked decent.
Finding ourselves down in Padstow for a few nights, we decided to make the extra two hour trek to Torquay to finally pay his Michelin-starred, sea view restaurant a visit.
It’s a super relaxed setting; the large bright and airy dining room feels more café than Michelin-star which is no bad thing. Service is equally relaxed and smily with it.
We opt for the set lunch menu, a well priced £19.95 for 3 courses. I start with chicken liver parfait. The shards of sourdough croutons are the perfect vehicle to scoop up the smooth parfait and dollops of sweet and sour wild plum pureé.
Heritage tomatoes with Vulscombe goat’s cheese is made more fancy by a truffle dressing. A simple dish but the quality ingredients ensure it is an enjoyable one.
Brixham hake is some of the finest fish I’ve had in yonks. It’s local too (9 miles away to be precise) which makes it all the finer. It comes with runner beans and Anya potatoes all drenched in a seaweed butter – this is spot-on simplicity reminiscent of The Sportsman.
Breast of Crediton duckling is a pretty lil’ thing. Purple kale, beetroot and roasted walnuts offer texture against the soft duck. We order a side of cabbage with crispy bacon (£4) which is so perfectly seasoned with salt and butter, we finish the generous portion.
For pud, we share the buttermilk panna cotta (set in the bowl) with poached Southdown Farm blueberry compote. It’s cold and creamy – the perfect summertime pudding. There are broken up pieces of aerated white chocolate which are heavenly.
As we walk off our lunch around the stunning Torquay harbour in the sunshine, it’s hard not to fall in love with it all. The Elephant serves food in the simplest way with the focus being on produce treated with the respect it deserves. Cracking value too.
Would we go back? Yes.