REVIEW: Sidmouth's Clock Tower Cakery and Restaurant
PUBLISHED: 19:37 25 May 2018
Nestled at the top of Jacob's Ladder, the new Clock Tower Cakery and Restaurant has become somewhat of a hidden gem for evening diners in Sidmouth.
Earlier this year the much-loved 16th-century lime kiln in Connaught Gardens underwent a complete refurbishment.
The family run-business of 28 years was formally only used as a coffee shop - the cafe has however now opened as an evening restaurant three times a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Sidmouth Herald reporter Beth Sharp went along to test out the menu.
When we arrived, our waiter Antony was charming, polite and welcoming. This quaint little restaurant seats around 40 people comfortably and we were lucky enough to have a table next to one of the windows overlooking the town’s sprawling coastline.
The room featured lovely wooden tables, comfortable chairs and fresh flowers on every table. There were arched windows overlooking the sea and the beach which all helped create a charming dinning atmosphere.
While we waited for our drinks and starters we were giving some freshly baked bread rolls and salty butter to get our appetites going.
For starters, we enjoyed pan-fried scallops accompanied by salty crumbs of black pudding and smooth, subtle pea puree and wild mushrooms arancini with tarragon cream – sat on a bed of grated parmesan.
The melt in the mouth scallops were buttery and succulent and were complemented by the rich, earthy black pudding and sweet pea puree - which really lifted the dish.
The breaded mushrooms were really something special and we cannot recommend these highly enough. They were coated in thin crispy batter which gave a satisfying crunch, fragranced by a slightly aromatic kick.
Once they broke open in your mouth they released a juicy centre that created a melody of earthy, salty flavours. The cheese really gave it a nice salty kick while the tarragon cream balanced the dish with mellow herby hints. The whole dish was well-balanced and created a harmony of flavours – it was really enjoyable.
For our mains we enjoyed a rib-eye steak, chunky chips, mushroom, tomato and salad a blue cheese sauce (peppercorn sauce also avaialble) and a pan fried supreme of chicken, sautéed mushrooms, rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, asparagus and béarnaise sauce.
The steak and blue cheese sauce was delicious – a pot of salty, creamy goodness. The meat melted in the mouth – the beef could have been cut with a butter knife, it was so tender and succulent.
I would go as far to say this is one of the best steaks of my life and I would love to challenge anyone to try and cook me something is better – I just don’t think it is possible. I really didn’t want to share it – I let my partner have a single bite, begrudgingly.
The chips were thick, fluffy on the inside and crispy on the inside and tomato was ripe and juicy. Everything had a place on this plate and was definition of exquisitely refined comfort food.
Onto the chicken, which sat on in a generous pool of freshly-made béarnaise sauce. It was creamy, perfectly seasoned and left you wanting more. The asparagus was cooked well and had a nice crunch to it, but the potatoes were the star of the show.
We could tell they were cooked with love, as each one was lashed with a salty kick of rosemary and garlic before breaking open to reveal a soft buttery inside. The chicken was cooked well, tender and juicy.
For dessert we were advised to have the ‘trickle’ two cheese board apposed to the ‘truckle’ five cheese board, both served with oatcakes, homemade curried peach chutney and grapes. It was very generous portion and I think if we had gone for the truckle five we have been sent home with a doggy bag of cheese that would have taken well over a week to eat.
It is definitely a sharing desert which ever one you select. I really enjoyed the homemade tangy, sweet chutney – it was a special addition to the dish and went exceedingly with the mature cheddar and creamy blue cheese. We also enjoyed a cheeky glass of Krohn Colleita port which made it all rather perfect.
We also got to taste the lemon posset, baby donuts and raspberry dip. The posset was creamy and tangy, but extremely rich. Exercise caution if you are feeling full and are considering dessert as an afterthought. Luckily, I was in hungry company so most of it was consumed.
The baby donuts were light and airy and looked like baked lollipops. Lovely as they were on their own, they were elevated when coated in the lip-puckeringly zingy raspberry sauce which ferociously attacked the tongue with bursts of sour and sweet notes.
At the end of the meal we were told they made almost everything from fresh, using the best of locally and ethically sourced ingredients - this was really reflected in the quality of the meal.