In a word
Situated right next to the National Park, The Moorland Garden Hotel is well suited to anyone who would like to explore more of the incredible tors and lakes on offer around Dartmoor. As its name suggests, part of the garden of this hotel is ostensibly moorland, which makes it a perfect getaway for anyone living in the city.
With a combination of classic and boundary-pushing meals on offer, the Moorland Garden’s Wildflower restaurant is an excellent all rounder. One to watch, chef Rob Murray brings the focus back to the amazing local produce on offer in the area.
A large hotel, it is a great location for family occasions, and has conference facilities able to accommodate up to 170 delegates, so the managers have worked to focus on reaching as wide an audience as possible.
One of the main attractions the hotel has is its proximity to Plymouth and being right by the National Park. With the bar named after Dartmoor, it is tastefully decorated to bring a piece of the ancient moorland into the hotel and its grounds. With steel antlers fashioned as coat racks, and stag heads abound, there is a theme of classic with a contemporary twist, which heavily bases itself on the stunning location. When we visited we got stuck in very slow moving traffic across Dartmoor, near Princetown, and as such feasted on Quicke’s cheese picked up from interviewing Mary.
The views were indescribably wonderful.
When we called the hotel to explain what had happened, the staff were very helpful and friendly, which was reassuring, as we were literally stuck on the moors!
We stayed in the Lily of the Valley Suite, which was spacious and designed using the tones of the surrounding landscape. With an enormous and very comfortable bed, we were pleased to see that we’d been given some homemade muffins to start off our culinary adventures. It was the ‘tache’s birthday, and as such these were very welcome after our drive. The suite was very luxury and comfortable, with a lounge and desk area for me to tap away on the keyboard, as the ‘tache relaxed.
Fair sized bathrooms provided everything we needed and we were very pleased to see, in the name of equality, two sets of shaving kits were provided. Small details like this really make a difference and the Moorland Garden Hotel is the only one I’ve stayed in who added this subtle touch.
From the moment we called to explain that we would be delayed in arriving to the moment we left, the staff were helpful and friendly with a passion for good service and their amazing location. For some reason there was a proliferation of Lauras working there, which I will always see as a massive plus! Because I’m vain like that!
It being the ‘tache’s birthday meant that the staff put very touching additional gestures to our experience, such as small gift bag in the room on arrival and they’d decorated our table at dinner. Again, these little touches made a big difference and we felt really cared for and looked after.
So getting down to business, the menu had a couple of hotel classics, such as prawn cocktail, to keep traditional guests happy. Rob was not afraid to push boundaries also with a goat’s cheese pannacotta with beetroot carpaccio, pickled mushrooms and caramelised walnuts.
Adding the aesthetic touch of some crayfish tails to a prawn cocktail, Rob had kept this fairly traditional, which demonstrates the balance between satisfying different clientèle in a hotel like the Moorland Garden. The goat’s cheese pannacotta showed some real skill of balancing flavours, and was brand new on me. Where goat’s cheese can be a bit cloying, Rob has perfectly preserved the mushrooms to cut through the clagginess, and the beetroot carpaccio added a crunchy dimension and crisp, seasonal flavour.
For mains, I went for a locally sourced piece of hake; pan roasted and served on top of crushed potatoes and broccoli, with a lobster sauce. This brought together the element of Devon and Cornwall I enjoy the most, by providing seafood and tender vegetables. The ‘tache had a flat iron steak, sourced within the expanse of Dartmoor, and its many farms. The focus on provenance and using everything Dartmoor had to offer was evident in the menu, reinforcing this traditional/contemporary fusion that sums the hotel up.
For dessert, the staff again made an extra effort on behalf of the ‘tache’s birthday, which was touching and left us feeling well looked after. As it should, the crème brûlée called Amelie to mind with its exciting crackle and soft inside.
At breakfast, it was good to see poached haddock and eggs on the menu, as this is my all-time favourite breakfast dish, and is a little lighter than a full English. That said, the ‘tache sampled the full breakfast and he could taste the quality of the local produce, from the farms on Dartmoor. In addition, the cereal and fruit bar were well stocked and we could help ourselves to croissants and preserves. Being so stuffed from last night and with more culinary capers to contend with, I actually managed to restrain myself and just have the haddock and poached egg. Which was delicious.
We had a chat with the chef Rob the next morning, who said he planned on introducing more game from the surrounding area and more contemporary dishes onto the menu. He is extremely passionate about keeping food as simple as possible, whilst also creating memorable dishes.
Some of my questions threw him a little, as he was busy sorting out other staff and getting everything ready for his new bar menu. He has aspirations to join the ranks of his heroes such as Michael Caines and Nathan Outlaw as time goes on, which will hopefully see the restaurant embrace more of his creative food options.
A sample menu shows the use of classic and seasonal ingredients.
With an extensive wine list, the hotel have worked hard to represent Devon producers’ ciders and ales, as well as spirits. Plymouth Gin is the house gin in the Dartmoor Bar, which is a strong and tasty gin with a variety of flavours that has been made in nearby Plymouth for centuries. I was pleased to see that they also stocked Tarquin’s gin, which is made by a small distillery in Cornwall.
A bottle of prosecco for the ‘tache’s birthday left us giggling into the night and in need of a brisk walk out in the snow the next morning!
This is way above and beyond a standard hotel, and offers really reasonable rates, including dinner. Set within 9 acres of its own private moorland , it provides an excellent base for discovering more of what the National Park has to offer, and the food and service were unrivalled by the fantastic views, and comfort provided by this contemporary hotel.
To have a look at their website and see the fantastic offers, starting at just £99 per couple for dinner, bed and breakfast, visit www.moorlandgardenhotel.co.uk
Moorland Garden Hotel
Tel: 01822 852 245
Fax: 01822 855 004
The nearest mainline train station is Plymouth, which has direct links with most cities in England, Scotland and Wales, including London, Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Edinburgh to name a few.