Author Archives: tonypithers

Eating Out around Dartmouth and Kingswear.

We want visitors to Kaywana Hall to have a relaxed time thus we strongly recommend that they book restaurants. My heart sinks when an 8pm arrival on a Friday night asks for suggestions and then I desperately have to phone around and call in some favours! So here we go this is the current list updated as of  February 1st 2017. I tend to update it regularly so check back to see what has changed. Opening days and times do vary particularly over the winter months.


These are places that we like to visit. We hope you will enjoy them however sometimes restaurants have off nights and we cannot guarantee every visit. The Seahorse is still the best in our view. 

Rumour has it that Dartmouth is getting a Pizza Express. The shortage of places to eat means it will be welcomed and at least gives visitors another choice at a lower price point.

KINGSWEAR (walking distance)

The Ship Inn                            01803 752348   

Sea-Jay’z Café                        07885 778205             No website.

The Steam Packet                  01803 752208

CHURSTON (5 minute drive)

The Weary Ploughman           01803 844702   

DARTMOUTH (walkable via ferries approx 20 minutes)

The Seahorse                            01803 835147   

Rockfish                                     01803 832800   

The Dart Marina Hotel           01803 832580   

Bushell’s Upstairs                   01803 839281     

Bushell’s Riverside                 01803 833540   

Taylors                                       01803 832748   

The Royal Castle                     01803 833033   

Anzac Bistro                            01803 835515    

Kendricks                                 01803 835515    

Furtherafield often good for a day out with lunch.

BRIXHAM (10 minute drive)

Rockfish                                  01803 850872   

TORQUAY (20 minute drive)

Has some surprisingly good restaurants including a Michelin star, and sometimes easier to get reservations here.

The Elephant                           01803 200044   

The Orange Tree                     01803 213936   

No7 Fish Bistro                       01803 295055   

The Carey Arms                      01803 327110   

Rockfish                                  01803 212175   

STRETE (over the river from Dartmouth 15 minute drive)

The Laughing Monk                01803 770639   

TORCROSS (At the end of Slapton Sands 45 minute drive)

The Start Bay Inn                    01548 580553   

BEESANDS (Another 15 minutes on from Slapton)

The Cricket Inn                        01548 580553   

DARTINGTON (10 minutes drive on from Totnes)

Riverford Field Kitchen          01803 762074   

TOTNES ( 20 minute drive)

The Curator Kitchen               01803 865570  

KINGSBRIDGE (30 minute drive)

Wild Artichokes                                                 

SPARKWELL (plymouth way 55 minutes)    

Treby Arms                                01752 837363         

The Ship Inn. Its all change here for 2017 with some of Colin the landlord’s family leaving and at the time of writing Colin and Heather taking an extended break away. It needs a good shake up but whether it gets it remains to be seen. It is close to us, about a 15 minute walk, so it will stay on the list for the meantime. Expect freshly cooked pub food and chaotic service!

Sea-Jay’z. More a café, ideal for light lunch or a pot of tea. Appears not to be doing evenings anymore. Nothing fancy but reasonably priced. Reviews are mixed maybe stick to the cup of tea and sandwich.

The Steam Packet. Recently taken over and refurbished with a young and willing team. Small restaurant upstairs with great river views or eat downstairs. Specialises in home made pizza from a proper pizza oven.There is a small menu of further items. At the moment only serving Thursday to Sunday, check back as this might change. Great pizza.

The Weary Ploughman. We have always had good meals here. Big portions, fairly priced and open 7 days. This is a useful venue when other restaurants are closed.

The Seahorse. Well known chef Mitch Tonks cooks here, emphasis on fish. Excellent food but expensive, though lunch is a much cheaper option. Great atmosphere, small intimate venue. Still our current favourite! Closed Sunday evening, all day Monday. Recommended for a special occasion. Won the Observer Food Monthly Awards for 2012 beating Dinner by Heston which won in 2011.

Rockfish. Mitch Tonks also owns this great seafood cafe close to his restaurant, expect great fish but at fair prices. Also does take away. There is virtually no meat on the menu but a great choice of fish and shell fish. Open 12 noon to 9.30pm every day from middle of February. Winter times vary. Won Best Independent Fish & Chip Restaurant 2013. All restaurants including Dartmouth can now be booked on line. Brixham is now open and has a great position over the harbour. Well worth a visit. Also open in Exmouth from late last year.

Dart Marina Hotel. The dining room here has been redesigned recently and it is a great improvement. The food is excellent. Does tend to be full of the older generation who seem to be the hotels core market,  perhaps not as buzzy as other places. However it is open 7 days a week, which is a bonus. Not a cheap option.

Bushell’s Upstairs. What used to be Sails has been taken over by Bushells, its just next door and is a much bigger space. Opened 1st April and open Wednesday to Monday from 6pm. It’s good news that we have another restaurant open on Sunday and Monday nights

Bushell’s. Used to be Annabelle’s. Been up and running for more than a year now. We have visited once and thought it could be better, but it always seems to get good reports. Very small and tables quite close together. Closed Sunday & Monday. Dinner only.

Taylors. Long established restaurant with friendly relaxed service. On the first floor so some nice views from window tables. Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.

The Royal Castle. There are two options here. The Grill Room on the first floor of which we have had good reports, seafood and steaks and a carvery on Sunday’s. This is also open on Sunday evening’s so a good option when other places are closed. Downstairs the bar serves a good selection of food with daily specials in a more informal setting. Open 7 days a week.

Anzac Street Bistro. Took a while for us to try this after its sale by local chef Serin. One half of the couple who purchased it is polish and the menu has a slight slant in this direction. We had a great meal and liked the different menu. Not expensive either. Open Monday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. Particularly good for Mondays when not much else is open.

Kendricks. We are not regulars here but it fills a niche in the Dartmouth Restaurant Scene, by providing good steaks, burgers and ribs. Daily specials may include curry and fish. Mid priced and perhaps a little on the high side for what is provided. However it is open every night from 6pm so a good option on Sunday and Monday nights.

The Elephant. It’s all change here for 2016 with the two separate restaurants combining. The tasting menu will be available on both floors of the restaurant along side the a la carte. The slightly formal service for the tasting menu when it was just served upstairs has gone. I think this is a good move. The restaurant has a Michelin star. Excellent food. We had one of the best meals of 2016 here. Open Tuesday – Saturday for lunch and dinner.

The Orange Tree. Intimate mid priced. Well respected restaurant. Marketed as an English/European menu. Easy parking close by. Open Tuesday – Saturday from 7pm.

No 7 Bistro. A small family run Bistro style restaurant providing fresh fish and shellfish either from local boats and markets or Scotland. Mostly fish.   Nov – May closed Sunday & Monday. July to September open 7 days a week for dinner. Lunch Wednesday to Saturday.

Carey Arms. Recently refurbished, great position overlooking the bay. Great food mid priced. Described as gastro pub food with a young local chef. Mentioned in 2011 Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide 2011. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Very bad at answering the telephone, but worth persevering! Very popular in July & August, less frenetic out of season.

The Laughing Monk. This is worth the journey as the food is excellent, run by husband and wife team. Good value. Open for dinner only and closes for some holidays in the winter. Tuesday to Saturday only.

Start Bay Inn. If you like fresh fish this does not come any fresher with the sea on the doorstep. Huge portions reasonably priced thus always busy. You can’t book here so better to avoid peak periods. Open for lunch and dinner every day.

The Cricket Inn. Another great pub restaurant right on the beech, great for walkers. A large restaurant open every day, tables should be booked in the summer months. Mid price range. Open 7 days.

Riverford Field Kitchen. Giles Coren said he had the meal of his life here and I would agree. The emphasis is on vegetables with one meat dish. Sitting at tables of 8 on wooden benches the food is served family style with dishes arriving at the table for you to help yourself. Change of chef during 2012 seems to have made no difference to quality. Very reasonably priced for quality of food lunch £23.50 for 2 courses dinner £27.50 for 3 courses. Open for lunch every day. Not open every evening so call to check. Booking essential. Highly recommended.

The Curator Kitchen. At last a buzzy interesting very modern Italian venue. Small menu but perfect for sharing plates. Excellent food with Italian owners who know how to cook. Stands out by a mile from the other local restaurants. You have to book. Open for lunch and dinner. Coffee shop downstairs also very good. We loved our recent meal here in Nov 2016.I here news that they have opened another floor, which is very noisy. If booking ask for the first floor.

Wild Artichokes. Jane Baxter ex chef of Riverford owns this place. Lovely food served in the same style as Riverford, food is delivered to the table and shared by everyone. Only operates a few nights every month, so check the website. Gets booked up very quickly. Great food, we loved it. £35 per head, mostly vegetables so very suitable for veggies.

The Treby Arms. A Michelin star here but don’t expect fine dining, its parred down Michelin but with a full a la carte and tasting menus. In February they were offering a three course lunch for £17.50 amazing value! We loved the food and came away eating off the a la carte at around £55 per head including 3 courses, wine and pre dinner drinks. Good value in our book. A bit of a drive down the A38 and then some typical Devon lanes but definitely worth it if you are a foodie.

GETTING TO DARTMOUTH.                                                                                                                      If the weather is good it’s a nice gentle stroll down to the ferries. The best route is to turn right out of our drive and almost immediately take the next left turn. Walk down the road until you reach the head of the creek on your right, there is a path on the left of the creek which follows the water down to the Marina. Walk through the marina car park and cross the railway line, turn left and walk through the marina, you will come to another small car park next to the Royal Dart Hotel there is a ramp down to the passenger ferry, this runs back and forth taking about 4 minutes at a cost of £1.50 per person. You can also go through the arch turn right for the lower car ferry and travel on this as a foot passenger. TAKE THE TORCH PROVIDED IN YOUR ROOM FOR THE RETURN JOURNEY! Last ferry times are around 10.45 to 11pm, remember to check.

If it is wet or you do not fancy a walk drive to the little car park by the Royal Dart Hotel park and take the ferries. From 2017 there will be evening charges in this car park. For the Marina car park drive into the village until you come to the turning circle, turn sharp right as though you were coming back to the house. The car park entrance is on your left. Now for 2017 a pay and display, first hour free during the day.


Booked out!

It’s great when information learned in early life can be put to good use later on, like a gambler it’s always good to have an edge.In my younger days managing hotels over booking  was an everyday occurrence. Remember the old days with no Internet? We had huge reservation departments taking bookings by phone and fax and no way of taking deposits, consequently there were numerous no shows and most nights the 10% we were overbooked largely sorted it self out. Occasionally as Night Manager I had to find hotels for guests if we had no rooms. It was a case of what is the least we can get away with, ideally they went quietly, bundled into a cab before they could make too much fuss and promised a room the following day when I was safely off duty and it became someone else’s problem.

These days it happens far less mainly because the hotel either has your money or at least a credit card number. So here we are in sunny Majorca with a confirmed booking, made in November last year at a rather smashing looking 5 star bijou property. Stunning views and beautiful grounds. Not cheap but hey time for someone else to look after us. My spooky sixth sense which has rescued me from many a situation, was flashing red warning lights for at least a month before we departed, perhaps you should drop them an email to tell them your arrival time it said. After all there has been no communication since November. It’s fine I have a confirmation I say. So off we fly, jump in the hire car, arrive at said beautiful property, walk into reception introduce ourselves and are taken outside for a welcome drink, wow it is beautiful all seems well…..a man arrives asks for our passport and confirmation, slightly unusual particularly as I see his pen hover over our arrival date and then start to shake a bit. I have a bad feeling about this I say to Gordon as the minutes tick by. The man returns looking stressed, we have a problem he says, we do not have your booking, yet you definitely have a confirmation. I think I better have another glass of champagne I say. So now starts the negotiation, a double for one night, a junior suite for 2 nights, the dreaded book out for two nights, the best room in-house for the last night, plus free dinner, a boat trip, champagne, so it went on. Play hard to get I though, know how this works.

As I write this we are on our two nights booked out, actually in a modern design hotel virtually next door, in the best room which turns out to be the penthouse with private roof terrace and jacuzzi. We are being treated like VIPs and it turns out it’s costing us very little if anything. Actually we think a lot of things about this hotel are actually better than where we should be, naturally that bit of information is between you and me, after all we have tomorrow night yet to look forward to in a suite that normally costs £1000 a night. I guess every cloud has a silver lining!

Our famous granola.

Well our travels in New Zealand seem a long time ago and its back to the reality of making beds and breakfast. Here is the famous granola recipe which comes to you courtesy of a South African friend who lives in France. (Don’t ask but it proves the recipe travels)

Here are the quantities for 2KG which is a good amount.

192g Salted Butter

30g BlackTreacle

2 teaspoons of vanilla paste

250g Demerara Sugar

250g Runny Honey

Melt altogether and let it simmer for a few minutes so that the vanilla infuses and then let it cool a little but not too cool otherwise it becomes too thick, you are going to get down and dirty with your hands, so if you can put your fingers in its the right temperature.

In a HUGE bowl or container mix the following together: (Best to do this first as it will be ready for the syrup)

1kg Oats

125g Sesame Seeds

250g Flaked Almonds

250g Flaked Coconut

250g Peeled Pistachios (Waitrose have these and Sainsburys sometimes)

125g Pinenuts.

Poor over the syrup and mix well using your hands. Pour it out onto flat oven trays, you will probably need at least 3, as it needs to be a thin layer. Oven at 150 degrees with fan and bake for 15 minutes, then turn using a spatula and cook for another 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it during the last few minutes as it can over colour very quickly. Remove from oven, allow to cool, break it up a bit, and store in airtight containers. Simple!

And Finally Beds & More Beds.

I think we are both a bit weird, we have over the last few weeks become fixated with beds. Hardly has the door closed behind us as we enter a new bedroom, whereupon we can be found testing the firmness of the bed, then deconstructing the bedding to see what type of mattress and whether it has a topper. Then we start on the pillows….. We have everything, from queens, kings, super kings, flat beds and joy of joys a CALIFORNIAN super king, the biggest bed in the world! Now that is a monster of a bed, sleeping 4 comfortably I reckon. Though that was attached to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, so no chance to try that particular theory out.
It is also important that the bed is big enough because my dearly beloved has restless leg syndrome, if you remember Kenny Everett’s TV shows and the way he crossed his legs in the best possible taste, you will kind of get the idea. Essential that you are far enough away otherwise you get battered all night long. We have had some motels with two bedrooms, one in particular springs to mind, if you remember the manager was a racist German who thought he had a good sense of humour. His wife we only met as we were leaving, she was cleaning the room opposite. Her first comment was to ask whether we were ‘one bed boys’, naturally we confirmed we were, ahh she said I have a son who is a one bed boy. Taking us to heart she then proceeded to say she had caught her husband in bed with someone else that very week and thus was leaving the following day. Not sure this is a place I am going to recommend!
All in all a great trip, a couple of flat beds to moan about on the way home, then our own, which I can assure you is still the best!

The Sting in the Tail.

He did it! My superhero. I have to say my cover was nearly blown when we discovered we could jump in tandem, I quickly went very pale and hoping he would not notice the million cameras covering every split second, said well you will need me to take your photos. Actually just leaning over the rails to get pictures of him bouncing up and down made me feel very sick. More entertaining were the Chinese women holding on for dear life who had to have their hands prized from the railings and then a gentle nudge followed by a very Chinese scream. Apparently you can do it naked if you want, that might have been interesting.
So jump done my hero returns full of adrenalin, of course we have to collect the t shirt, the certificate and buy all the pics because mine all appeared a bit wobbly. Time to go back to Queenstown….Have you sussed it yet? Any guesses? Back to the car, I have the bag which he gave be after he had been back to the car to change into shorts (much sexier to jump in shorts) Oh wait a minute car keys must be in the bag somewhere, no cant find them, let me look. 5 minutes later….HE MUST HAVE JUMPED WITH THE BLOODY CAR KEYS IN HIS POCKET.
You would have been proud of me, very calm, no raised voices, a little too calm perhaps, almost frigidly calm. Let’s go find the nice English guy who looked like our friend Ben Norris’s brother, because we sure need a friendly face at this moment. Hi says Dan, back already, another jump? Perhaps you Tony? So angry was I a Tom Daley dive off the platform would have been easy. Let’s review the video of Gordon’s jump suggests Dan, and there it is, plain to see, a splash as something falls into the river towards the end of his fall. Not the first to do that, says Dan, let’s go and call Hertz for you and see what options you have. By this time Hertz is already mighty pissed off with us as we arrived back at a car park a few days ago to find a camper van impaled in the back of our car. Excess lost that will be £1500 on your credit card until we sort out who is to blame, sir. Grrrr wonder how much this will cost me thinks.
Then, our guardian angel flies in on the end of a bungee rope, because as I lean over the reception desk, tucked away by the side of the computer, there seems to be a set of keys. Could they be? We both lunge for them, yes yes yes! Oh says Gordon I must have put them down here while I was signing the forms.
Divorce narrowly avoided, until the next dizzy blonde moment.

Alls Well That Ends Well.

So he’s back safely, Mr Smarty Pants. Oh you would have been fine up there it was easy, no steep climbs, no sharp drops. Should have come blah blah. Well I immediately downed tools and stopped ironing, no need to practise now he is back. In fact so pumped up with adrenalin he roared up to the ironing board and this was the result.
Right so we have gone all macho now and thrown caution to the wind, helicopter trip, tick, light aircraft, tick, bungee jumping, tick, all booked ready to go. Though considering I felt a little sick on our boat trip around Doubtful Sound today I might be a little apprehensive.
Driving out here is pretty easy, few roads, few cars. I follow the signs because I am not a good map reader and guess what it makes me car sick. My heart sinks when asked to check the map, why for heavens sake the road sign says we are on the right road, if you want to look at the map I will drive. Then I have to drive with him tutting next to me when I don’t change up to 5th gear at exactly the moment he would. So basically I can’t drive or map read. You notice funny things as you drive along in the middle of nowhere, on a couple of occasions the fences around a particular property have been covered in old hanging trainers, that’s the shoes in case you need clarification. Today there was maybe 50 women’s bras hanging at regular intervals along a wooden fence, lots of different colours and sizes. I had to ask myself whether perhaps there was a little mystercism going on and as women drove past they were compelled by some hidden force to screech to a halt, whip off their undergarments, attach them to the fence and then roar off into the sunset cackling manically to themselves. Or it could just be that the local farmer is advertising his prowess to the local ladies. Quite frankly I think they need to give this guy a very wide berth, assuming of course that it is a guy!
Oh sorry I lied about the bungee jumping, surely you can’t in a million years have thought I would jump off a bridge attached to a stretchy bit of rubber?? But I have booked it for Gordon, he might bottle out, think I might need to give the ironing another go, just in case.

In Recovery

Picture the scene, I am sitting on my terrace looking at this
Franz Josef glacier, in case your bothered, oh and thank you I am feeling much better. It seems it is the reoccurrence of an old condition, the cure to which was in my bag. So determined was I that I had some new life threatening condition which probably would end in hospitalisation, that I ignored all the well known symptoms, insisted Gordon give me several types of antibiotics, tutted at him when he quietly suggested it might be my old complaint and became miserable and emotional. Such is life. As I lay in bed in my miserable state I thought there would be no harm in trying the drugs I had been carrying round. So I whopped one up, suppository in case you were wondering, and this morning 100 percent better. Doctor probably knows best, lesson learned.
The thing to do here is to Heli Hike on the glacier, so when we arrived yesterday we booked two places provisionally for today, on the basis that I might still be unwell. I was concerned it wasn’t for me, very macho, ice picks and crampons, a bit like my stomach for the last few days. So we then walked to the face of another glacier and I could see all these little specks crawling about on the ice, Oooh not sure about this, don’t have a good head for heights and not good standing on the edge of steep drops. Then of course there is the helicopter trip to get there. As I was cogitating all this this morning the news comes on the telly and guess what ANOTHER shark attack not so far from us, the odds of two shark attacks in a couple of weeks must be pretty high, definetly a sign, no glacier hike for me. Gordon has just flown over hanging out the back of the helicopter, sure he will be back safe and sound, really must not get anxious for him. He gave me loads of jobs to do to keep myself busy until 3 including the washing, he said it was about time I learnt to do these things, just in case.
Now I am sure some of you will we interested in how the Carol and David story paned out, you have to read my last blog if you are not up to speed with that little saga. Actually it’s Karel and David but it sounds like Carol. Funny thing the language here, I am beginning to pick it up I can say fssh = fish yeess = yes, listening to the radio here helps its a bit like those language courses you can buy. Every time we hear a new word we both repeat it out loud and then dissolve into hysterical laughter. Well all I can say about Karel and David is they both deserve Oscar’s, sterling performance,perfect hosts,everything tickity boo. Perhaps I should have warned Gordon not to give them our website address, because of course they could read this blog via the website. Whoops but no real harm done me thinks. We stayed in another place run by a racist German who thought he was a comedian with a Scottish wife who had serious issues. That might have to wait I need to practise my ironing…..just in case.