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Gidleigh Park

CHAGFORD, Newton Abbot, TQ13 8HH

5 rosettes

Depending on the season, Gidleigh Park may well appear a refuge from the seething multitudes, not just of the big city, but of nearby Chagford, where the tourist footfall can thicken to a stampede. Standing in majestic isolation on a Dartmoor hillside, the place was built on the site of an old ruined estate in the late 1920s for an Australian shipping magnate, who only lived for three years after its completion. It looks as grand today as was the intention then, a piece of bravura mock Tudor stuffed with artworks and antiques, with views over the River Teign below the lawns. Gidleigh remains the jewel in executive chef Michael Caines' crown, the place where his culinary philosophy finds its most eloquent expression. In a suite of three interlinked dining rooms panelled in oak and decorated with good-humoured lithographs, the scene is one of understated formality. Staff are impeccably attired, and know what they are about, including full familiarity with the menus. There are residual touches of classical French cuisine in evidence, for instance in a brilliantly textured terrine of foie gras with Madeira jelly and truffled green bean salad to start, but the kitchen's magnetic north is modern Britain, which pours forth regional supplies, not least from Gidleigh's own kitchen garden. Brixham scallops with caramelised cauliflower purée in sweet raisin vinaigrette is a confident interpretation of a contemporary classic dish, and the sound judgment with fish extends to a main course of Cornish salt cod and Beesands crab, the former rolled in paprika and slow-cooked, the latter adding freshness to a composition deepened with the spicy bite of chorizo and the acid tang of little jewels of lemon purée. Pairings of principal items are popular throughout, as is also seen in a duo of venison and pork belly with jasmine-scented raisins and puréed chestnut, the kind of production that's easier to pull off when you have a large brigade at your disposal. Desserts retain the fun factor, rather than making us eat up our veg: a plate of orange variations marshals a tartlet, mousse and sorbet, as well as preserved mandarin, while banana parfait is accompanied by lime-spiked butterscotch sauce, a lime sorbet and salted peanuts. Breads and petits fours show that attention is fiercely focused down to the finest details, and the selection of southwestern cheeses includes the brilliantly titled Devon's Little Stinky, a washed-rind cow's milk specimen worth the aromatic onslaught. With a cellar running to an incredible 1,300 bins, you'd be wise to seek the expert guidance of the sommelier when it comes to choosing something fabulous to complete your dining experience.

Further information

Tel: 01647 432367
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Open all year.

Restaurant information

Cooking type: Modern European
Chef: Michael Caines MBE
Number of seats: 52
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Steps for wheelchair: 1
Disabled toilets.
Vegetarian meals available.
Children's portions.
No children under 8 yrs D.
Parking available.

Gidleigh Park, Chagford


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From Chagford Sq turn right at Lloyds TSB into Mill St, after 150yds right fork, across x-rds into Holy St. Restaurant 1.5m
Nearest station: Exeter St Davids

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