Cockhaven Manor Restaurant profile
Malcolm Twigg enjoys an excellent meal at the Cockhaven Manor at Bishopsteignton in South Devon
As Nick Rider explained to me, “I travel between Cornwall, Lancashire and Wales, and am away from home for three days a week. Of all the places I’ve ever stayed this is by far the best. It has a wonderful menu, with the widest choice, and the service is superb – it’s absolutely spot on.”
Recommendations don’t come much higher than that. Nick, territory manager for a firm of agricultural machinery importers, had seen me talking to proprietor Roy Extance, and stopped en route to the bar to offer this little nugget. As it happens, he didn’t need to. I’ve dined at Cockhaven Manor on numerous occasions so I knew what I was going to get: local quality, absolute consistency and value for money.
“So what’s new since the last time I was here?” I asked Roy. “Absolutely nothing!” he said emphatically. “My customers know what they want, I know what they want, and the team here delivers it. It’s as simple as that.” On that basis, Cockhaven Manor must be a prime example of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
You might think that would stifle creativity, but not a bit of it. The extensive menu and the specials board are so inviting that Head Chef David Baldwin and his team are constantly challenged. I invariably choose the restaurant’s signature dish – Cocky Cockhaven scallops – either as a starter or a main. They’re always excellent, but his time David had surpassed himself – they were superb. It was the sauce that did it, and sauces are a speciality of David’s.
There’s one feature of his menu that I find particularly exciting and that’s the exotic range of meats. It happened to be ‘bird trio’ that night – duck, pheasant and pigeon in a wild mushroom and red wine sauce – but give him a day’s notice and he’ll order you up crocodile if that’s what you want.
“That actually happened a couple of months ago,” Roy said. “A customer rang up wanting to try it, so David put it on his specials menu, courtesy of Gribble’s, our local supplier who stocks a range of exotics.”
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I’d long been promising to take some friends to Cockhaven, and this time I managed it. It was freezing outside, but the warmth of Roy’s welcome completely dispelled any thoughts of wintry weather and set the mood for a very convivial evening. I could go to great lengths and effusive acknowledgement of the meals we had, but then I’ve always had an excellent meal at Cockhaven and have never been disappointed.
Sample Menu Starters
Smoked salmon steak with a cranberry and port jelly served
Cocky Cockhaven scallops, saut�ed with smoked bacon in an onion,
white wine and cream sauce
Toasted Somerset brie and almonds on French bread, served with gooseberry and elderflower dip
Venison fillet with a port and cranberry sauce, served with vegetables and potatoes
Salmon Patricia (poached salmon steak with white wine, cream and prawn sauce)
Priory peppered pork steak, grilled and served with mushrooms, tomato, onion rings, salad garnish and chips
(there is an excellent and innovative range of vegetarian dishes)
Affogato (espresso coffee, clotted cream ice cream and Amaretti biscuits)
Strawberry and kiwi vacherin (a light, baked, meringue-based dessert)
Chocolate mint roulade
Cockhaven Manor, Bishopsteignton, TQ14 9RF
01626 775252, www.cockhavenmanor.com
Proprietors: Roy and Mandy Extance
Head Chef: David Baldwin
Prices: Starters from �3.75; Main Courses from �7.75; Desserts