Review: The Elephant, Torquay

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We have to squeeze in at least one fine dining experience into every holiday and for our trip to Devon,  this was it. A delicious meal at the Michelin starred 'Elephant' in Torquay, headed up by the mightily talented Simon Hulstone.

It was a wet and humid Thursday evening as we arrived at the Elephant to be greeted by a smiling waiter, arms outstretched for our jackets and umbrella. 10 minutes later, we were sat sipping a lovely Chilean Merlot and perusing the simple but mouth watering menu. The restaurant is in a beautiful old Victorian building overlooking one end of Torquay's harbour. Decorated in a simple style with wooden tables, a bar propped up on empty barrels and elephant artwork on the walls, there is a distinctly seaside casual feel to the place which relaxes you. Split level, there is the tasting menu only in the Room upstairs, or al a carte menu in the Brasserie downstairs.

The most impressive thing about The Elephant, and something I hadn't realised until we sat down and read the menu, is that they have their own farm, just a few miles away near Brixham. As you read the menu, the small carrot symbol indicates that ingredients come from there. I would guess that around 80% of the menu had that symbol - and where there isn't a symbol, you can be sure that the ingredients are locally sourced too. Such a wonderful touch!

To start, I opted for the Scotch Egg, and hubby for the Crab Cake. The egg was sat on a bed of curried mayonnaise and juicy raisins which gave it a real retro feel. For the hubby, Paignton Crab filled a crispy skin and the tartare sauce was to die for. I couldn't resist a photo of before and after with the egg - although I knew it would be runny, I felt an almost childish delight as I sliced it open and a luminous orange yolk poured out!

Paignton crab cake with lovage tartare sauce 8.00
The Elephant - Scotch Egg heaven!
Southdown Farm scotch egg with curried mayonnaise - £7.00
The Elephant - Scotch Egg with a gooey centre
Look at that yolk!
For our mains, we both opted for meat - after a week of fish we fancied a change. I went for Duck, served with spring cabbage with bacon bits and an onion puree. The duck was incredibly tender, cooked pink and the skin was flavoured with soy and honey. It was duck heaven! The hubby had Lamb, unusually paired with tomato fondue, borlotti beans and goats cheese. Luckily it worked and the meat melted in your mouth like butter. Again, everything is incredibly local with the cheese coming from Vulscombe farm, not far from Torquay.

Breast of duck with spring cabbage, white onion puree and a soy and honey glaze - £19.75

Rump of new season lamb with tomato fondue, borlotti beans, Vulscombe goat’s cheese - £19.50
Eat up!
To finish, I went for my staple cheeseboard whilst Dave did his usual trick - anything chocolate! The cheeseboard was very simple with just 3 cheeses and a delicious rum and raisin chutney. For the first time in my life I tried Stinking Bishop! It really does pong but the texture and flavour were intense and really quite moreish. There was also a Halston Blue (again, very local) and a Cornish Yarg on the plate. Both scrummy.

The hubby's chocolate and olive oil truffle was rich and creamy and was complimented perfectly by
the coffee ice cream. Sadly, it was pretty much all gone before I could get a try! Piggy boy.

Chocolate and Olive oil truffle with vanilla shortbread and milk ice cream - £7.25
Selection of the Westcountry’s finest artisan cheeses - £7.50
All in all, we had a wonderful meal at The Elephant. Everything from the service to the produce to the cooking was excellent. The bill came in at just under £110 for two of us with three courses, a bottle of wine and tea and coffee. Worth every penny in my mind.

Square Meal

5 comments

  1. How does one make a scotch egg yet still have a runny yolk? I'm (groan, I'm sorry) a yankee and have never had a scotch egg and I would love to make them at home! Google recipes call for a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage then breaded and fried.

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    1. Teehee! You're the second American to ask me that question. A runny yolk lifts a bad one to a thing of wonder! I think the key is to soft boil it before wrapping in the meat and not over frying.

      If you can get your hands on a proper Scotch Egg, its divine, avoid the supermarket ready made jobs though.. Good Luck!

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  2. Haha! Supermarket ready-made...you've never been over here have you? :) We seriously haven't even HEARD of scotch eggs, let along have them available in a pre-made fashion.

    I'm going to give it a shot one of these days and I'll let ya know how it went! Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Good luck on your scotch egg hunt Nick :-)

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  3. Love a place that serves locally grown food! This all looks delicious, thanks for sharing.

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