11 The Quay, DARTMOUTH, TQ6 9PS
An iconic 17th-century building in the centre of this bustling town, the Royal Castle Hotel commands a prime site overlooking the Dart estuary. Originally four Tudor houses built on either side of a narrow lane, which now forms the lofty hallway, this handsome old coaching inn offers plenty of original features in the shape of period fireplaces, spiral staircases, oil paintings and priest holes. The choice of real ales from local breweries includes Dartmoor Jail Ale and Otter Amber, and there is an impressive number of carefully selected wines served by the glass; a wider range of high quality wines appears on the Castle Collection list. A supporter of Taste of the West's 'buy local' campaign, the kitchen showcases plenty of Devon produce on both the all-day bar menu and the Grill Room restaurant. Typical choices in the pubby Harbour Bar and Galleon Lounge might take in local crab sandwiches; baked Little Wallop goats' cheese salad; and Donald Russel chargrilled sirloin steaks. With its lovely river views, the AA Rosette-awarded Grill Room upstairs is a great setting to enjoy starters such as ham hock ballotine with shimeji mushroom à la grecque and pancetta crisp; or Brixham crab ravioli, asparagus, broad beans and ginger velouté. These might be followed by walnut-crusted pork loin, butternut squash purée, spring greens, glazed pork belly, onions and wholegrain mustard; their famous chateaubriand for two served with hand-cut chips, baked tomato, field mushrooms, garlic butter and a choice of sauce; or whole Torbay sole with clams, mussels and chive vinaigrette. Finish, perhaps, with lemon tart and raspberry compôte, raspberry coulis and clotted cream; or glazed dark chocolate cheesecake with hazelnut ice cream.