The Elephant is in fact divided into a downstairs Brasserie and the upstairs fine dining area called The Room (as in The Elephant in the Room though technically of course it's The Room in The Elephant). Both the upstairs and the downstairs dining rooms have stunning views over the the quay and it's a very comfortable environment to enjoy a meal.
And before moving on to the food, we must comment on how genuinely warm and friendly front of house manager Jason is, he's perfect in the role and enhances the overall customer experience. He also has an excellent knowledge of the wine list and did a great job assembling the tasting menu wine flights.
Looking at the menu, we breathe a sigh of relief noting the absence of foie gras on the tasting menu itself, rather, the food looks contemporary and exciting, revealing while not giving up all its secrets ahead of receiving the plate. We're already happy.
The first plate to arrive is Beets and Curds, Elderflower, Tansy and samosa: visually, it stimulates our appetite, we're moved to eat it. Golden beetroot and Cheltenham beetroot are used, the samosas contain goats cheese, and then there's elderflower, elderflower curd and an elderflower dressing. A good fresh start to the meal. The next course to arrive is simply stunning as the picture below shows: Brixham crab, lovage gel, compressed watermelon, cucumber ketchup. A separate bowl of brown meat crab balls with tartare sauce is placed in the middle of the table. It's hard not to be impressed with the precision and care with which this dish has been constructed, it is to look and taste, beautiful. The brown meat crab balls are also absolutely awesome, packed with flavour, would have been a worthy course in its own right. Two courses in, we already feel won over.
The Elephant in the room then is that the best and most enjoyable food offerings right now in the UK seem to be coming from restaurants with neither multiple stars nor Mayfair postcodes, rather, regional restaurants where there's passion and talent behind the stove. Allied that with great ingredients, cared for by the chef and the diner's guaranteed a good time. We've talked a lot about 'safe' menus and 'me-too' menus but also that great chefs are doing their own thing and so it is that Chef Hulstone is doing his own thing: it works. We loved our meal at The Elephant and for anyone planning to be in or around Devon this summer, The Elephant should be a definite fixture on your list.
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