I remember when I first moved down to Devon in the late 1990s for work reasons and our company’s regional HQ was in Truro. It meant that I, as a foodie, was able to compare and contrast the different offerings for dining out in Cornwall and Devon.
And different they were. Cornwall seem to have stolen a march on Devon, to be honest. There seemed to be more choice, better service and wider use of local produce on menus. Devon seemed to have some catching up to do and the food mismatch between the two counties might, in my opinion, have had something to do with our cousins further west also then stealing a march on us when it came to tourism.
Fast forward 20 years and I’d have no qualms now about saying Devon more than holds its own by comparison. In fact, I’d be quite prepared to take the stand and argue it is better now in terms of diversity and quality of eateries.
And that diverse range of offerings means, if you like dining out as much as I do (and if my personal trainer is reading this that’s actually not very often) then there is so much choice you can run the risk of overlooking what is right in front of your very nose.
And a case in point can be found with The Galley in Topsham. We are regular visitors to Topsham, being as it is a ten-minute drive (or half an hour’s cycle from home). So we have passed this delightful looking little fish restaurant at the end of Fore Street without ever venturing in. How remiss of us, it turns out.
We know this now having been invited by proprietor Nigel Mitchell to a lovely evening called Galley Confidential. Intended as a showcase for both head chef Jason Mead and his fantastic menu it achieved that – and then some.
Our spot in the window seats of this charming eaterie afforded us a view straight out over the Exe estuary, meaning the only thing that could really divert our gaze from the changing colours of the evening as the sun slowly set was the amazing variety of dishes placed before us.
And what dishes they were. Everything from scallop roe parfait, burnt apple and rye crisp to start, via baked hake fillet confit chicken leg, wild garlic and hazelnut pesto with Hasselback Cornish new potatoes as a marvellous main course and then a delightful dessert of Granny Gothards burnt butter ice cream, candied walnut, preserved cherry and salted caramel.
The presence of the gorgeous Granny Gothards ice cream in that last dish was symptomatic of a wider ethos espoused by the team at The Galley – a proper commitment to local suppliers who believe in quality and distinctiveness as much as they do. Indeed, the list of those partners they work with printed on the back of the menu was a tribute to the restaurant’s commitment to supporting local businesses.
The evening might have been called Galley Confidential, but there really is no secret to this restaurant’s enduring success – it is a blend of excellent food, lovingly created and served in delightful surroundings.