Olive Tree Restaurant
Durant House Hotel, Heywood Road, Northam, Bideford, EX39 3QB
Rich in Victorian splendour, the Olive Tree Restaurant in the three-star Durrant House Hotel truly charmed us. The restaurant is warmly lit and decked with wooden panelling, sparkling silverware, gleaming glasses and a carefully chosen single stem flower on each table - attention to detail at every turn. Along one side of the room are windows looking out onto an inner courtyard and garden, complete with an ornate fountain, and the waiter service is just what you'd expect from a hotel of this standard - attentive, efficient and knowledgeable. The à la carte menu is brimming with fresh, local produce, put to delicious use in dishes made on-site by a team of expert chefs. Their skill was evident from the outset, in starters of homemade chicken liver parfait with homemade onion marmalade, and a wonderfully fresh melon platter with seasonal fruit coulis. Next came succulent pan-seared salmon steak with lemon and chive cream sauce, which my companion declared 'divine', and for me a locally reared chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak that was cooked to perfection. The chefs take obvious care in presentation - each dish was artistic and delicious. We relaxed over homemade creme brulée and a heavenly Eton Mess for dessert, and agreed we'd be back to sample more, and soon. For a romantic meal for two or a celebration with friends and family, the Olive Tree Restaurant fits the bill with class and style.