A delicate pastry tart with pretty crimped sides sits on a bed of thinly sliced yellow fruit

The Angel, Dartmouth: restaurant review

Does a regular diner reach the same conclusion about a restaurant as a food pro, who may get special treatment if recognised?* South-west critic Mark Taylor and olive reader Trevor Jones compare notes on this relaunched Devon restaurant

About The Angel, Dartmouth

Chef Elly Wentworth might be a familiar face for fans of MasterChef: The Professionals. Runner-up on the show in 2016, the former Lucknam Park sous chef moved to Devon to take over the kitchen of The Angel in Dartmouth in the second half of last year.

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After an extensive refurbishment, the restaurant, which was originally opened by chef Joyce Molyneux in 1974, is now open with Elly’s seasonal menus on offer, focussing on the best of Devon’s larder.

Local producers include Pipers Farm and its native Red Ruby beef and Powderham Castle venison, Dartmoor Shepherd and its traditional breeds of sheep, and ex-Royal Marine-turned-forager Miles, who tracks down anything from salty fingers to Cornish kombu and even local truffles.

Expect the likes of best end of lamb with aubergine pickle, anchovy fritter, artichoke and lamb jus; line-caught sea bass with roasted cauliflower, hazelnut and chicken dressing; and Devonshire clotted cream parfait with burnt butter crumb, ginger caramel and pear granita.

theangeldartmouth.co.uk

Wooden tables are simply laid with wine glasses, white napkins and a candle holder
After an extensive refurbishment, the restaurant, which was originally opened by chef Joyce Molyneux in 1974, is now open with Elly’s seasonal menus on offer

The pro restaurant reviewer

The pro Journalist and restaurant reviewer Mark Taylor has written for a number of publications in the past 20 years, including olive. @MarkTaylorFood


The punter restaurant reviewer

The punter Trevor Jones is a retired business consultant who lives in Devon. His best dining experience was at Phil Howard’s Elystan Street in Chelsea.


Our pro’s The Angel, Dartmouth restaurant review…

On the waterfront of well-heeled Dartmouth, The Angel offers magnificent views across the River Dart towards the pastel-hued houses of Kingswear.

When Elly Wentworth arrived here after working at Michelin-starred Lucknam Park, it completed something of a circle for the site as this was where Joyce Molyneux became one of the UK’s most influential chefs when she opened the Carved Angel.

Like Elly, some of the front-of-house team have come from a similar fine-dining background, with all the upselling that brings. I lost count of the times I was asked whether I wanted to order more wine, and a request for tap water was met with a hint of acquiescence. *I wasn’t recognised but I had booked under a false name.

At lunch there is only a set menu, which at £29.95 for three courses is fairly priced considering the quality of the raw materials, including local fish and native-breed meats.

A puck of chicken terrine was topped with a slice of black truffle and flanked by blobs of sherry vinegar-flavoured jelly, with a few Lilliputian pickled vegetables and micro herbs for garnish. The terrine was moist, meaty and full-flavoured, but one parsimonious disc of brioche wasn’t enough to go the distance.

Spiced crusted cod showed the benefits of careful cooking, as did a ruffle of monk’s beard and sea beet perched on a swirl of buttery pomme purée. A light, frothy curry dressing brought the freshness of the fish into sharp focus without masking the flavour.

For dessert, a storming salted caramel tart with crisp pastry and a fudgy filling arrived with a tip-top tonka bean ice cream.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Although the service is a notch too buttoned up, the finely tuned food demonstrates serious talent in the kitchen. This Dartmouth institution is in safe hands under its latest custodian.

Total bill for one, excluding service: £39.95

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Vibe: 6/10

TOTAL: 22/30


Our punter’s The Angel, Dartmouth restaurant review…

The Angel offers a brightly lit welcome on Dartmouth’s South Embankment. The starters boded well for an enjoyable evening – roast diver scallops were properly caramelised with a soft centre, while apple and ponzu purée with honeyed yogurt provided a precise balance of flavours.

Equally good was the Loch Duart salmon. Tiny blowtorched pieces of fillet just-cooked on the inside came with squid ink-battered and deep-fried mussels, both crunchy and succulent. White taramasalata added to the strong fish flavours of the dish.

A white plate is topped with a delicate piece of blowtorched Loch Duart salmon. To the side is a squid ink-battered deep-fried mussel and there are dots of white taramasalata
Tiny blowtorched pieces of salmon fillet just-cooked on the inside came with squid ink-battered and deep-fried mussels, both crunchy and succulent

Sadly, the mains disappointed. My wife’s lamb came as two beautifully pink cylinders of best end and some shredded shoulder. The anchovy fritter was a revelation, and braised artichoke heart was a good foil. However, the attendant half aubergine was almost raw.

My main of two small pieces of Ruby Red beef fillet were cooked pink and looked appetising but were grainy and chewy when cut into. The grelot onion (think Gallic scallion) was charred nicely, but the delicate little tart with broccoli and a blob of potato foam on the top was cold.

Fortunately, the desserts ended the meal on a high. Pre-puds of panna cotta, rhubarb and ginger crumb were a welcome sweet start. The apple soufflé with maple and walnut ice cream gave an intense nutty apple crumble flavour explosion. The “chocolate bar” – crispy on the outside and delicately cakey inside – was perfectly matched by lime, caramel and sea salt ice cream. The desserts were washed down with a glass each of pudding wine, which we were offered having raised the issues with the mains.

A well-risen souffle is sat in a charcoal grey individual serving pot. On top is a quenelle of pale pink ice-cream with a glossy pink sauce being poured on top
Desserts ended the meal on a high, from panna cotta with rhubarb and ginger crumb to the apple soufflé with maple and walnut ice cream

THE BOTTOM LINE

Though our meal was up and down, we would return as Elly Wentworth is a promising chef, and we sensed that the brigade is still settling in. A valuable addition to Dartmouth’s foodie landscape.

Total bill for two, excluding service: £153.50

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Vibe: 7/10

TOTAL: 22/30


The Angel Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) rating: 7

Chef Elly Wentworth makes full use of the abundant larder on the doorstep of this Devon restaurant. Cracking local suppliers from Brixham and Dartmoor provide the vast majority of the meat and fish on the menu, and the mushrooms are grown just down the road at Devon Funghi. To help under pressure fish stocks, Elly’s wisely serving farmed bass and halibut. At least half the menu is vegetarian and a vegan menu is available if ordered in advance. Jerusalem artichoke and cauliflower are just two of the fabulous seasonal and local vegetables lighting up the menu. The whole cheese plate is also devoted to varieties made in Devon. With all that excellent local produce, diners will be delighted to know that the kitchen team is busy pickling and preserving surplus and ensures what can’t be used is recycled. It’s also good to see that befitting its coastal location, The Angel is doing plenty to reduce the amount of single-use plastic it uses – with no straws available and a policy to source from suppliers who are using minimal packaging.


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Photographs by John Scott Blackwell