Let's Get to the Point - Pier Point Restaurant and Bar, Torquay
I recently joined an England's Seafood Feast event, with 7 restaurants in 7 hours and Pier Point was one of the venues, you can read more about this event here. So I was very pleased to be invited back on a chilly November evening, to try their new Winter Evening Menu which is available on Saturday evenings.
|View of the Bar|
Torquay looks very different in the evening, with strips of coloured bulbs along the seafront and the many restaurants lit up with striking colours and bright signs to tempt you in; Pier Point, an independent open since 2006, is no exception - with bright neon strips hugging the building, but the restaurant sign had no illumination, they may have either forgotten to switch it on or maybe it was broken but this could make it so easy to miss as you wander along the seafront esplanade in the dark. which would be a shame.
|Reflection of the indoors and the outdoor lights through the glass|
The interior is open plan and spacious and makes good use of the glass which makes up two thirds of the building, so wherever you sit you will have a good view. They haven't crammed too many tables in so you won't overhear your neighbours' conversation, however interesting it may be.
We were presented with the new winter menu; the first thing I noticed was the chef's haven't just taken dishes from the lunch menu but have created a well thought out menu with dishes to suit all tastes for a high quality dinner. It's just a shame that, with all the lovely local ingredients being used, that there is nowhere in the restaurant or on the menu to say where the produce comes from which I think these days is a must. The menu also has a selection of wines but was I sad by the absence of any English wines. We asked more about the provenance of their produce and I was pleased to hear they use Challices fruit & veg suppliers, Totnes who source most produce from farmers within 20 miles, Devon meat from local butchers in Torquay, LG Palk and fish coming from well known Kingfisher Brixham.
We opted to try a couple of dishes from the 'while you wait' section; the crispy pig ears with spiced apple puree and sesame prawn toasts with jalapeno mayo. We told our server we had never eaten pig ears before and he was very knowledgeable about the process the chefs used in creating them. Both dishes arrived quickly and there were smiles aplenty around the table. The pigs ears were served as strips and were crispy but not teeth breaking, with a good deep porky flavour and went well with the apple dip - a classic combo.
|Pig Ears and Creamy Apple Sauce|
The prawn toast were a very long way from the ones you get from your local chinese takeaway, which are nearly always greasy from being fried within an inch of their lives. These beauties were a big rectangle of bread, very very well topped with a thick layer of minced and whole prawns with spring onion running through them and a generous topping of sesame seeds. Now, the chefs could have just served these with a sweet chilli sauce as you nearly always get with prawn toast (I've never got why you would serve a sweet sauce with sweet prawns) but they were very clever here and they came with a jalapeno mayo just spicy enough as not to overwhelm the natural sweetness of the prawns - a clever combination.
|Prawn 'Toasts' - these were more like Prawn mini-loaves!|
|A Look Inside the Prawn Toast!|
Next on the menu we were served homemade focaccia with three flavoured butters; the bread was very good, served warm and was non greasy as this type of bread can often be. The different butters -garlic, parsley, and smoked chilli - all had a good flavour and went well with the bread.
For starters we went for the ham hock ballotine which my son was very impressed with especially the runny rich quail egg with coated the tender meat.
My wife opted for the curry scallops with a coconut and coriander dhal and apple salad; again a very good piece of cooking with delicately cooked sweet scallops and a fragrant curry dhal which were well received.
I love a soup. Some people say a soup is a simple starter but I think a well made one shows skill and is like a cuddle on a cold night, warming and satisfying, and this soup was all of this. A Moroccan butternut squash soup with a ginger and coconut cream, fresh pomegranates and pistachios nuts. It was thick and full of flavour and the sharp pomegranates seeds and crunchy nuts gave this soup a great texture I could have eaten a bucket of this.
|Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup|
For the mains we chose the glazed rack of lamb, the 8oz fillet steak and the halibut. My son is a big lover of steak and said his medium rare steak was very well cooked and the accompaniment of wild mushrooms and triple cooked chips were delicious.
|Steak Adorned with Mushrooms; Triple Cooked Chips Came With This Too|
My wife's lamb was tender but was a bit tricky to cut even with a steak knife due the bones, maybe the rack coming sliced from the kitchen may have been a better idea. The accompaniments of the honey roasted beetroot, confit baby turnips and carrots and rainbow chard along with the port reduction went down very well.
|Glazed Lamb Rack|
I'm a big fish eater so the halibut was the perfect choice for me. The fish was well poached in the brown butter; brown butter is a great way of poaching as the butter gives a nuttiness taste to whatever you are cooking but take it too far and it becomes, bitter spoiling the taste. I'm pleased to say the butter was perfect; the dish came with a smooth celeriac puree and small cubes of roasted celeriac and spinach (which I passed over to my wife, not being a fan of the green stuff - don't tell popeye) she said it was very flavoursome due to being cooked with garlic. The only criticism about the dish was I would have liked the skin removed as halibut skin is not really edible at the best of times and the dark skin served on a black plate did nothing to help the presentation.
|Butter Poached Halibut|
We also had a side dish of potato dauphinoise as it's one of my favourite potato dishes, it was well seasoned and the potato was well cooked it was just a bit condensed but still very tasty.
It would have been rude not to dive in and look at the dessert section of the menu and it didn't take us long to pick the dark chocolate delice and a treacle tart. The chocolate delice was, I'm told, sublime; with a homemade honeycomb rich with honey, salty, soft peanut brittle, creamy yoghurt and a vibrant and tangy homemade raspberry sorbet.
|The Silky Smooth Chocolate Delice|
Now I love a treacle tart; it's a classic along with desserts like apple crumble, cheesecake - you get my drift. I believe, on the whole, you shouldn't muck around with these great puddings but on this occasion I will forgive them - it was amazing. The treacle tart filling was wrapped in a thin, almost waffle-like pastry tube, stood up on top of a tangy lemon curd, served with crispy meringues and a raspberry espuma (foam). It all worked so well together and I don't have a sweet tooth, normally opting for the cheese board but I could ordered this again and taken it home for breakfast the next morning.
|The Deconstructed and Well Re-Imagined Treacle Tart|
Joint head chefs, Stephen Brown & Darren Rockett, have worked hard to create an exciting fresh menu and the small criticism I have written about here would not stop me going back to eat again. The whole evening was full of tasty produce, well thought out and obvious passion going into the dishes. With views of the English riviera all around you, make a point of giving this independent restaurant a try.