“It’s the magnificent views overlooking my beloved River Exe that sold this house to me,” says chef Michael Caines of Lympstone Manor, a Grade II-listed Georgian building set in 28 acres on the outskirts of Exmouth that he is opening as a country house hotel and restaurant on Monday April 3.
Caines, who held two Michelin stars at Devon’s Gidleigh Park, says he and executive chef Tom Hines have created locavore modern British cuisine for his latest project. As well as an à la carte menu (£115), there will be the Taste of the Estuary menu (£130), celebrating the seasonal catch of the area, and an eight-course signature menu (£140, with wine pairings). Starters will include marinated tuna tartare, Oscietra caviar, soused turnip and beetroot wasabi cream, while among the mains will be Cornish salt cod, Beesands crab and chorizo with lemon purée, as well as lobster and mushroom ravioli.
A white chocolate candle with raspberry sorbet is one of the standout desserts, alongside an astringent “Orange” – a confit of orange mousse with orange sorbet and dark chocolate – and a selection of West Country cheeses, while an authentic Devon afternoon tea (£40) will be served at 4pm, with house-made jams, preserves, scones, sandwiches and local sparkling wine.
To make the wine even more local, work will soon begin on a 15-acre vineyard at Lympstone Manor – “everyone does vegetable gardens, I want to be different”, says Caines. The vines will be planted on the slope that leads to the Exe, and “Cuvée Lympstone” will consist of sparkling white and rosé wines produced from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grape varieties.
In the meantime, an eclectic wine card created by Steve Edwards – a dedicated wine aficionado – reflects the bounty of local growers such as the award-winning Lyme Bay Winery, as well as 600 European and world wines. “We have set up the Wine Emotion dispenser system, which keeps bottles perfectly sealed to ensure freshness long after the first glass is poured,” explains Caines. “So you can taste great wines such as, say, Château Petrus by the glass.”
Lympstone also has 21 contemporary guest rooms and suites (from £305), named after birds found on the Exe estuary – such as Kingfisher, Magpie, Gannet and Greenfinch, which has its own garden – as well as floor-to-ceiling windows, a bespoke copper bar and three dining rooms. “This is my creation, my vision, from the architectural transformations of the house and gardens to the kitchens and my bespoke Athanor stove,” says Caines. “I’ve come home.”
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