Where do you begin to describe what's on offer at Cockhaven Manor?
The menu here is simply huge, and that also applies to the quantity you get on the plate.
Head Chef David Baldwin is a man who doesn't believe in small portions (but who does believe in hot plates on which to serve the portions, and plenty of variety) and that vision is shared by proprietors Roy and Mandy Extance. Mandy is a patissiére by training and is hands-on in the kitchen with David, but until six years ago Roy was a bank manager (and you can almost hear the homely theme from Black Beauty running in the background because Cockhaven Manor is nothing if not a home from home).
Before we get any further into this, and although it generally doesn't do to make comparisons, let me say that dining at Cockhaven Manor has been one of the best dining experiences of its kind I have had anywhere... ever. That doesn't just emanate from the quantity and superb quality of the food - not to mention the sheer value for money - but it's the whole ambience of the place, because eating here is fun.
Roy's long-held dream, even when he was bank managing, was to own a hotel/restaurant one day and bring to it the sort of values that he, as a long-time customer of eating establishments throughout the Westcountry, would want to see: superb food, superb service (without servility), superb value for money, and the atmosphere in which to enjoy it.
A couple can dine excessively well here for less than £25 each for a three-course meal, although those with a lesser appetite will be pushing it to achieve the full three courses.
Cockhaven Manor is a 16th century farmhouse with later additions, smack in the middle of Bishopsteignton. Although only two miles from both Newton Abbot and Teignmouth it has the feel of a remote country pub and still retains an olde worlde atmosphere, enhanced by the decor and the roaring log fires.
A central theme is the local produce that's so much a feature of David Baldwin's cuisine (except for the bison, water buffalo and springbok - I did say that there was plenty of variety). The mussels and soft fruit come from just down the road and the pork roams free in woodland at nearby Dawlish.
It's a family-orientated establishment where you can eat as simply, or as expansively, as you wish, in the knowledge that you will have to go a long, long way to find the sort of value for money and quality of food that you get here.
I'm not even going to attempt to describe the food we had because I am simply going to run out of superlatives. Consequently, Cockhaven Manor has acquired the sort of reputation amongst the local cognoscenti that means special celebrations are fully booked for the ensuing year and New Year's Eve for 2007 was sold out by 9.30am on New Year's Eve this year.
Cockhaven Manor is a country pub/restaurant/hotel that, in my opinion, blows most others of its ilk clean out of the water. Go: you won't be disappointed.
Duck & chicken terrine with redcurrant and port jelly
Easy snap crab claws with salad and mayonnaise
Moules marinieres (with River Teign mussels)
Slow roast Iamb shank, orange, mint and redcurrant sauce
Roast duck breast with blackberry and kirsch sauce
Fillet of brill with garlic butter and prawns
Aubergine layered with goats' cheese, mozzarella & sundried tomatoes
Lime and mascarpone cheesecake
Meringue roulade with chestnut & fresh pineapple
Fresh cream roulade with mint
Cockhaven Manor, Bishopsteignton
T012 9RF 01626 775252
Proprietors: Roy and Mandy Extance
Head Chef: David Baldwin
(including vegetables and choice of potatoes)
A range of light bites available
(The a la carte menu also features an extensive variety of dishes and prices)
No smoking in the dining areas