We heard news that acclaimed chef John Burton-Race had recently taken up a head chef position at the John Burton-Race Restaurant with Rooms in Torquay (formerly The Grosvenor) and was receiving rave reviews from all who visit.
In need of a short break and with Torquay being just 90mins from our home-town Bristol, myself and my partner headed down on a Friday evening to find out for ourselves if this foodie break was all it was reported to be.
We were impressed as soon as we arrived as we were offered valet parking – the smartly dressed, charismatic valet swiftly parked our car up for us and escorted ourselves and our luggage into the grand reception. We were promptly checked in and our luggage was carried up to the spacious room.
There’s something about Torquay and the English Rivieria, you immediately feel like you’ve left the UK and are in a classic Audrey Hepburn film – the days of getting dressed up for dinner and watching the beautiful coastal scenery come straight back. Unlike a lot of large hotels, you won’t find noisy groups of hen or stag do’s or even particularly young families. Torquay seems to be an up-and-coming foodie town where people purely visit for nostalgia and great dining.
The Richardson Group, who owns The John Burton-Race Restaurant with Rooms are brilliant at the details of a stay. It’s the small things that really transform an ‘ok’ hotel into something quite spectacular. We had handmade chocolates waiting for us when we first got into the room, but even though the room was recently decorated and full of all manner of mod-cons, we were keen to freshen up and get down to the bar to try one of their expertly mixed cocktails we’d heard so much about.
When we got downstairs, the charming Maitre d’ Jose directed us to our table where we could look out over the harbour and the Devon coastline. He made us feel very welcome and soon came back with our first drinks of the evening. The restaurant uses silver service, a skill that isn’t often used these days but does indeed add to the grandeur of the hotel and experience. The freshly baked bread was fantastic and we have to restrain ourselves from filling up too much on it before the food arrived.
Upon Jose’s recommendations we started with veal with parmesan gnocchi whilst my partner opted for goats cheese tortellini both matched with a perfectly chilled glass of sauvignon blanc. For mains, we decided with much difficulty, to go for the turbot served with creamed leaks whilst my guest went for the lamb. We were both pleased with our choices and Jose recommended a delicious Argentinian Malbec to accompany the steak.
We both chose a cheese board to finish the meal which was perfectly put together. We had another glass of Malbec, although were very tempted to indulge in one of their fine ports.
If considering a trip to Torquay, we would highly recommend the John Burton-Race Restaurant with Rooms – they even have two beautifully decorated swimming pools which they encourage you to visit before enjoying your breakfast in the morning and heading back home.