West of Exeter lies a handsome building with a warm glow that welcomes you into its bosom. You have arrived at Paschoe House, Devon’s newest luxury retreat. The original building, built in the 13th century, was sadly torn down in early 1800s due to subsidence. Rebuilt in 1850, it has been home to the Amador family since 2000. In 2012, though, Tabitha Amador-Christie and her father decided to turn the Grade II listed building into a hotel and wedding venue. It officially opened this September.
Think hunting lodge with a feminine touch; deer heads and other such taxidermy adorn the corridors and stairway, while soft pink tones and soft grey geometric and floral-patterned floor tiles welcome you into the heart of this nine-bedroom country house hotel. Duck egg blue in the library bar, and steely blue geometric wallpaper in the high-ceilinged dining room, offer a more masculine feel to warm you up for your foodie endeavours.
In control of the kitchen is a former Royal Clarence and Abode Exeter chef, Alex Gibbs. Here, he has found a role where he can spread his culinary wings, including the opportunity to nurture a kitchen garden for his daily menu pickings. A few of his trusted team have migrated with him, which enables a well-oiled machine right from the start.
Evening menu choices include an excellent three-course a la carte menu (£50), with six tricky-to-choose choices for each course. Or, you can opt for the tantalising six-course taster menu (£65), where no decisions are needed.
Starters of salmon mi-cuit with beetroot, horseradish, lemon and mustard, and Devon scallops with pea, bacon, black pudding and shallot, were first up. Sharing is caring, as they say, so we happily switched plates at half time on this course.
The salmon was perfectly tender and well-seasoned with a crispy skin, accompanied by well-balanced dollops of smooth and creamy individual accents of lemon, mustard and horseradish – all there to liven and excite, but not overtake, the fish. The scallops were a classic combo, with the best black pudding we’ve ever eaten.
Spiced Creedy Carver duck breast with heritage carrot, confit leg and duck sauce, as well as lightly salted hake, clam, broad bean, sweet pea and beurre blanc, were next up. The second was another spot-on example of fish cookery, which won the approval of a man who doesn’t like his fish messed about with. Across the table, a divine piece of duck, cooked to perfection with a soft and meaty yet crunchy confit leg bon-bon, was enjoyed.
Pudding was described simply as milk chocolate, banana and hazelnut – delicate and crispy mille-feuille pastry layered with silken milk chocolate, crowned with marshmallow shards. The caramelised banana brought a deep sweetness to the dish, the crunchy hazelnut crumb, saucy caramel nuggets and creamy milk chocolate ice cream just tying it all up – decadent and satisfying, it took all our restraint not to lick the plate.
For a newly opened establishment, service was unobtrusive, efficient and natural. Staff were warm, passionate and genuinely well-briefed on the food, building on Paschoe House’s vision. All we found to be missing was a little background music during dinner, but all that would have done was drown out our oohs and aahs.
Paschoe House is definitely one to watch. It’s a nicely wrapped parcel full of pleasing surprises; a rather fitting description we reckon, as it’s situated in the aptly-named village of Bow.
Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton EX17 6JT;