Its not often I eat in hotels where I'm staying, unless I'm staying there specifically because I want to eat there. This time round though I'd initially booked my room here at The Royal through booking.com but about a week before I was due to arrive I got an email from the hotel group, Brend, which I subscribe to offering me a late-availability dinner, bed and breakfast rate which was cheaper than the rate I was due to pay for bed and breakfast.
With booking.com's free cancellation policy it was a bit of a no-brainer not to take them up on it.
That evening dinner was served in the intimately elegant Kingsley Room with its wainscoted walls, decorative cornices and period features. Although quite formally laid the immaculate room had nevertheless a relaxed ambience, assisted by the youthful professionalism of the staff.
The menu was quite short, but none the worse for that, and featured mainly local produce.
Favorite Dish: I can't remember what else was on the menu but I opted for the "Ham Hock Terrine", the "Poached Cod Fillet" and to finish the Westcountry cheeses.
The terrine was spot-on - perfectly cooked meaty ham delicately-set in its own aspic with grain mustard. This came accompanied by a ramekin of piquant, home-made, piccalilli and chewy, crusty rustic bread.
For main course my cod was fork-flakingly succulent and fresh. Presentation was simple and effective, raised on a bed of buttery mash and earthy mushy peas. A silky dill and white wine cream sauce added richness.
The three cheeses were pretty much what I serve myself in this neck of the woods - a good mature cheddar, a local blue and a Somerset Brie. I'd popped out for a cigarette after my main course and so by the time I returned these had warmed through to perfection. Good quality biscuits and well-trimmed celery completed the finale.
Washed down with a very reasonably priced, deeply-fruity, Palena Chilian Merlot this was a more than satisfactory repast, and doubly-so for the fact that all I had to pay for was the wine and a generous tip for the friendly waiting staff.
The much-missed Pete McCarthy, in what I rate as the best travel book ever written - McCarthy's Bar ("Never pass a pub with your name on it"), uses the price of Singapore Noodles as his yardstick as to the economic development of a place.
Me I use the quality of the Singapore Noodles as the benchmark of a Chinese restaurant's culinary development.
From the outside this is quite an unimposing little establishment on the main road coming into town, just before the Long Bridge. Once inside the plastic chairs, formica-topped counter and kitschy Chinese decor are equally unprepossessing. The menu too has nothing particular to distinguish it - merely a list of all the standard dishes expected.
Service though is friendly, prices very reasonable and my food arrived promptly.
Favorite Dish: OK the takeaway does itself no favours on the image front but looks aren't everything - it's the eating that counts. Here the Singapore Noodles were DELISH - which is my highest accolade - perfectly cooked egg noodles, a good handful of prawns, slivers of char siu pork, beansprouts and a few veggie bits stir-fried with a full-frontal chilli kick and a subtle back-spicing.
So good that I'll make a point of staying this side of the river everytime I pass through Bideford in the future.
A French cafe/restaurant in the heart of a Devon town, located in Burton Art Gallery in Victoria Park close to the town centre.
A large, bright casual cafe/restaurant, very popular with locals, serving excellent food and as it's licensed you can enjoy a glass of wine too.
Offerings range from cakes and baguettes with very good coffee to soup and large main-course salads.
The Thatched Inn has lovely homemade food. Good portions, and friendly staff.
The Thatched Inn is a genuine 14th Century Thatched Village Inn where families and pets are always welcome.
Extensive menu including local and homemade dishes, good selection of real ales, beers and spirits, relaxed and friendly atmosphere, Beer garden.
Buffets and private funcions catered for.
sorry I did not take a photograph of the Thatched Inn, but we called in at night.
Favorite Dish: I had good old British fish, chips and peas, and the portion was huge, and piping hot, and tasted absolutely delicious.
Bideford has a couple of Fish'n Chip shops but to my mind this is the best, not just in town but in the whole County. From the time it opens (I think 5 pm) until late there's a constant stream of people coming and going.
There's usually a bit of a queue but service is swift and friendly and the food well worth the short wait. You can eat-in at the "de rigeour" formica tables but when the sun's out the place to eat is sitting on the quay wall with the seagulls and boats for company. And then you can pop in for a pint at either the Kings Arms or the White Hart afterwards!
Favorite Dish: Well it just has to be the Cod and Chips. Meaty fresh fish, flaking and melting in the mouth with its light, crispy batter serving as the perfect counter-texture. Chips not too soggy but just soggy enough and because everything is fried in regularly changed oil nothing is too greasy. Not quite "healthy-eating" but almost!
If I remember correctly a large portion costs about four quid.
Bideford, as with most small towns here in Devon, has its sprinkling of Oriental offerings. I haven't had a chance to sample them all here but I can sortof recommend Honey Moon.
This is a smart-looking sit-down and take-away restaurant at the start of Bridgeland Street, just off the quay. I haven't had a proper sit-down meal here so far, just a take-away, but my general impressions are favourable.
It's a big menu, with almost two hundred options, and as such perhaps a little too large for my usual preference but I enjoyed my takeaway on my last visit and I knew what I wanted!
Service, even though I was only there for a take-away, was friendly and cheerful and I reckon this might be worth a visit for a proper sit-down.
Favorite Dish: My favourite Chinese take-away meal (UK so far only, unfortunately) is Singapore Noodles - prawns, chilli, noodles and whatever. There are some great ones around (the little place opposite the Catholic church in Cambridge, whose name I've forgotten, immediately springs the taste buds to waterfall capacity) and some pretty naff ones (the ones whose towns I can't even remember far less the restaurant names).
Here at Honey Moon the noodles are the thin rice variety and whilst a bit lacking in prawns had plenty of tasty meaty bits (mind you it was a Monday and they were probably trying to use all the weekend's leftovers).
Not the best in the world (ie UK) but cheap and a splash of soy sauce and a bit of chilli when I got them home enlivened them no end.
I must revisit on a busy night, sit down, and find out how that fans out!
This used to be a regular haunt of mine but this is the first time i've been back for 8 or 9 years and it was great to find that nothing has really changed (except for the abscence of the crazy beermat-retrieving collie). This really is a cracking little pub with excellent beer, friendly staff, a good local atmosphere, proper home-cooked food and a great quayside location (tho' unfortunately separated from it by the main road :( ).
The menu is pretty comprehensive with all the pub classics represented ranging from "chip butties", through a range of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, ploughmans etc. and some more substantial main courses - none of which are wallet-bustin'!!!
This place is well worth a visit if you enjoy the simple things in life!
Favorite Dish: Well it has to be the "Cod and Prawn Pie" - flavoursome chunky bits of cod with decent-sized prawns in a creamy sauce topped with buttery mashed potato - comfort food par excellence!! The veg was a bit naff but hey I'm not one to complain so long as the main feature does the job!