I have a new found joy for going home to Torbay thanks to my ability to dip and dive into its ever growing food scene. I admit it, the culinary gems I’m about to present to you may not be in the centre of my home town Torquay, more commonly known for being the home to ‘The Hotel’ and Fawlty Towers, but with a little bit of digging and a fair about of travelling by car (thanks Mum), you can find some absolute treats.
If you follow a windy riverside path from the market town of Totnes, you’ll reach Sharpham estate home to Sharpham vineyard and dairy. It costs £9 per person for a self guided tour around the beautiful vines including a tasting session of 6 Sharpham wines and 3 cheeses. On our visit, we tasted 2 fizzes (English Sparkling Wines), two whites and two reds. The Sharpham Summer Red 2010 stood out thanks to its ripe, fruity flavours and the delicious Sharpham Bacchus 2011 was packed full of tropical fruit flavours with an off-dry finish.
You don’t have to do a tour, you can just go and enjoy the cafe and the stunning view. Or you can do both like we did. Post tour, we treated ourselves to a portion of their creamy Elmhurst cheese (approx £4) and a full bottle of Bacchus (£12) and drank it at our leisure in the stunning surroundings.
To the locals, The Cary Arms is best known for the excruciatingly steep clutch burning hill you have to tackle to get there. Getting there is fine (downhill), but its the getting home (very much uphill) that hurts. It takes 15 minutes if you are my Mum and power walk it, or 30 (if Im honest sometimes 40) if like me you have too much to drink and stumble home.
It was and still is worth the effort for the stunning views over Babbacombe Bay and the opportunity to try and spot Sammy the seal who occasionally frolics in the waters just within your reach. Thanks to a recent redevelopment, it’s now not on the map just as a local pub with a serious view, but it is recognised as a boutique hotel, spa and culinary destination.
Food combinations are simple and delicate and allow local produce to shine and dishes are executed with finess and presented beautifully. They are on the expensive side for that area, (average £13-20 per main) but you’re not just paying for the food, you’re paying for the incredible setting and a comfy seat built into the cliff side. Fillet of Brixham plaice with crayfish butter, greens and new potatoes was delicate and simply beautiful whilst pork fillet with cider and baby vegetables was hearty yet in no way heavy. A meal for 3 with a glass of wine/beer each fell just short of £60.
The Crab Shack in Teignmouth may look like a seaside shack, hustling and bustling with bunting and traditional seaside decor, but underneath it is a slick and successful business with friendly staff serving fresh seafood in beautiful surroundings. The restaurant has two boats, named ‘La Vagabonde Des Mer’ & ‘The Royal Escape’, on which staff fish responsibly and sustainably in the English channel. With the promise, ‘fresh from our own boats, delivered direct to your table‘, you know you are in for a treat.
Go for the Crab Platter (1 person £25, 2 person to share £45) overflowing with cracked crabs bursting with juicy meat, creamy half lobsters, shell on prawns and silky oysters and wash it down with a bottle of prosecco. Make sure you book in tourist season and if you fancy a pint afterwards, do like we did and get the passenger boat across to another local institution, The Ness.