It used to be called Graze and Olive – now this stylish bar/café/restaurant in Sidmouth is renamed G and O. Which could stand for …. gorgeous and opulent? Gastronomic and outstanding? Take your pick.

Since it was taken over by Simone and Dave ‘Griff’ Griffiths in early February, the venue in Vicarage Road has been attracting enthusiastic reviews and comments on social media, so I couldn’t wait to experience G and O for myself.

It was late lunchtime on a weekday, so the place wasn’t busy. Relaxing jazz music was playing as I settled myself at a table and admired the décor and lighting – uncluttered, unfussy, but with a few eye-catching features, such as the cluster of colourful overhead lampshades.

G and O has menus for any time of the day: breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, cocktails, evening supper, all centred around a few high quality, locally sourced ingredients. Don’t expect a three-course restaurant menu for lunch or dinner; it’s mainly charcuterie, cheese, dips, paté etc, with a small selection of very tempting hot dishes, a range of delicious-looking cakes, and drinks to suit any occasion.

I went for the graze board, which promised two varieties of cheese, sliced charcuterie meats (or vegan alternatives), pickles, rustic breads, crackers, olives and salad. You get to choose two cheeses from a selection of classic varieties, all made in Devon, Cornwall. Dorset or Somerset. I went for Cornish Yarg and Somerset Brie.

When the graze board arrived, it was like a work of art. Imagine a very upmarket Ploughman’s Lunch – suitable, perhaps, for a ploughman who had recently won the lottery or unearthed buried treasure in his field. Displayed beautifully on a slate platter were the slices of cheese and meat, gherkins, silverskin onions, a little pot of onion marmalade, a selection of crackers, cherry tomatoes on the vine, lettuce drizzled with vinaigrette, cucumber, and even a few grapes and strawberries. Bread and butter – a generous amount of it - arrived on a separate dish.

I was highly impressed with the attention to detail. The creamy Somerset Brie was just the right temperature, almost melting on to the platter; the tomatoes were ripe, the pickles were crisp and tangy, the bread fresh and springy - everything was perfect.

Another nice touch was that, when I ordered a pot of tea to go with my lunch, I was offered the choice of having it in a mug instead - which I much prefer to a fiddly teapot. 

Overall, I loved this venue. It has the star quality of first class catering without any fuss or pretentiousness; the service is friendly, the atmosphere relaxed, the prices are very reasonable, yet the whole experience feels like a real treat. Congratulations to Simone and Griff: it seems that they had a clear vision of what they wanted to do with G and O, and they’ve got it exactly right.