Restaurant Profile - Lightermans, Kingsteignton

You get a sizeable slice of history with your meals here, at the Passage Hotel near Newton Abbot, Devon

This idyllic spot on the River Teign at Kingsteignton has been a centre of hospitality for well over 1,000 years, dating back to Roman times, when there was a tidal ford across the river. More recently, during the canal era, the area was home to a community of Lightermen who plyed their trade between Newton Abbot and Teignmouth docks, and whose ruined cottages still line the river. I had often wondered what those ruins were, and now I know.

It’s from this era of history that The Lighterman’s Restaurant takes its name and the stylish d�cor of the modern restaurant is enhanced by old paintings of the Teign in its many moods. There is no shortage of eating places in this hospitality enclave, the Passage House Inn (under the same ownership) caters for clientele who prefer good pub food, whilst the Lighterman’s Restaurant and the associated Vue Brasserie at the Hotel offer a quieter, more reflective mood. Evening diners at the restaurant can mix and match between the set menu and the all-day menu from the Brasserie, but my party chose the set menu, with enough choice to suit almost every palate. Duty Manager Danielle Palmer looked after us superbly throughout our visit, which extended until well into the evening, with coffee in the comfortable lounge area.

Between the four of us we made considerable inroads into the set menu’s bill of fare. Two of us opted for stuffed field mushroom starters and the others chose a huge bowl of butternut squash soup; portions here are nothing if not satisfying.

We all had different mains: mine was succulent lamb noisettes on champ potatoes with a redcurrant and mint sauce, my wife chose the pan-fried sea bass (being garlic intolerant, she opted to have it without – Head Chef Jason Harry is very accommodating). My guests, respectively, had steak au poivre and an heroic portion of roasted salmon, which came coated with crispy couscous, something I had never seen before but am determined to recreate. The desserts we chose were bread and butter pudding (of course), a drooling cr�me br�l�e, a decadent chocolate mousse and (inevitably, for my wife) a huge cheese board, which came with an enormous side salad. A bottle of the refreshing house Chardonnay accompanied our meals.

Good company, convivial surroundings, brilliant West Country sourced food cooked and served with flair and no scrimping, made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Inevitably, comparisons were made, and the Lighterman’s came out very favourably indeed. We’ll certainly be back to try the Brasserie next time and if the Lighterman’s is anything to go by, it won’t only be for the superb views of the river.  MALCOM TWIGG

Lighterman’s Restaurant,

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The Passage House Hotel, Kingsteignton,

Newton Abbot,

TQ12 3QH

01626 355 515

www.passagehousehotel.co.uk

Proprietor:

Roger Heywood

Head Chef:

Jason Harry

Opening Hours:

All day (set course dinner 7pm-9.30pm; Sunday lunch 12 noon)

Prices:

Starters from �4.95, mains from �11.95, desserts �5.75, three-course set evening menu �29.95

SAMPLE MENU

(From the evening set menu)

Starters

Red onion tartlet (caramelised red onion and tomato topped with goats’ cheese)

Torbay mussels in a white wine and herb cream sauce

Main courses

(Served with a selection of fresh vegetables)

Mushroom ravioli served on a bed of wild mushroom cream sauce topped with Parmesan

Pan-fried sea bass with fresh thyme and garlic, served with saut�ed new potatoes

Desserts

Belgium waffles served warm with maple syrup, ice cream and sliced banana

Chocolate mousse garnished with fresh strawberry

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