Orange Tree Restaurant (2009)
Since arriving at the Orange Tree from Staffordshire one and a half years ago, Sharon and Bernd Wolf have made their mark on the fine dining scene in Torquay, not least with the recent inclusion of the restaurant in the Michelin Red Guide and the award for -Restaurant of the Year 2008’ by Les Routiers. Local diners have certainly taken them to heart.
The decision to settle in Torquay and run their own restaurant came after Bernd had spent time developing his cooking career around the world in some truly great kitchens.German-born Bernd had worked in Germany at Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels, in London he cooked at the Langham Hilton, over to Washington DC and eventually in Leamington Spa at the Mallory Court Hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Bernd is also an award-winning chef in his own right having picked up the -Masterchef of Staffordshire’ Competition 2007 and earlier this year winning a gold medal in London at Hotelympia. Sharon provides front of house with exceptional hospitality and passionate personal service, making any occasion one to remember.
The restaurant is situated within a period house and has two dining areas that span the ground floor offering a total of 40 covers. Well-spaced tables lie in a warm and elegantly decorated room. High-backed leather chairs add a slice of modernity, crisp linen, candlelight and single stem flowers offer a feel that’s normally the realm of the special occasion restaurants. Original features include panelling and two feature fireplaces and carpets help provide a soft, warm and relaxed atmosphere. Through to the rear is the Garden Room, a bright conservatory space which has 12 covers and is used for larger parties and private dining.
Bernd creates seasonal menus that extol the great local produce that is available to the Orange Tree and the restaurant offers one service per night for a relaxing and exciting dining experience. Locals dine here very regularly as the experience is accessible price-wise; a full three course meal for two with a decent wine weighs in at under £80. Theatregoers can pre-order through the website in order to eat on arrival at 6pm.
So what kind of food you can expect here? Favourites include starters like Brixham crab bisque with king scallops which offers flavours of tarragon and tomato working with the textures of the meaty crab and succulent scallop. Another starter offers more taste adventure, Beetroot with Wasabi mousse and Cashew nut-marinted beetroot layered up with the Wasabi horseradish mousse and black pepper candied cashews. Before the mains home made sorbets are offered as a palate refresher. The main events include dishes like Sea bass with Brixham mussels, a pan seared fillet with sweet mussels highlighted with a fennel and garlic herb butter.
Bernd’s signature dish is The Orange Tree Tornados. The customers never let this leave the menu and Bernd makes it seasonal by rotating the ingredients accordingly, for instance it could come with Oxtail, or Morels as it does currently. A generous fillet of best West Devon beef is pan seared then oven roasted, topped with a slab of melting Foie Gras and finished with Madeira and Morel jus and a drop of white truffle oil.
The separate dessert menu offers classics and sure-fire hits like The Orange Tree Creme Brulee made with Vanilla Bean and Grand Marnier served with Marmalade biscuits or Sticky Toffee Pudding with home made Rum and Raisin ice cream. More unusual and exotic creations appear on the menu like Coconut and Mango Vacherin (not the cheese) but a sweet made with soft meringue and iced coconut mousse with a mango sorbet in the middle, served with caramelised Bananas. The current winner is Bernd’s -Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb’ three separate desserts consisting of a soft baked meringue and rhubarb tart, a shot glass with Rhubarb on the bottom, a middle layer of Custard topped with Chantilly cream and crumbled Almonds, the third being a white chocolate parfait with spiced Rhubarb.
The wine list consists of around 60 bins and has received as much trouble and deliberation as the menu and there are a couple of halves available which is always good. The main list offers French and other European selections from star wineries coming in at around £25-£30, starting with great choices for a range of -House Wines’ from France and Germany from -Villa Wolf’ made by the awesome Dr Loosen from £14.50-£20. Dessert wines span four options by half bottles or the glass including versions chosen specifically to go with Bernd’s style of desserts or even the cheeseboard. Launching this summer is a supplementary -Connoisseurs Selection’ - a small list of stunning top end rarities.
So, in essence if you are into food and want a quality consistent place to go, you can spend a little or a lot here depending on your mood and the occasion.
Orange Tree Restaurant
14 Parkhill Road
Tel: 0871 5287098
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