It’s rare to be in the position to try a restaurant so soon after it has received its Michelin star but a spontaneous trip to Plymouth across Easter weekend and a fortunate cancellation resulted in me sat at a table for two in Boringdon Hall, overlooking the cosy bar area and wall sculpture dating back to 905.

Chef Scott Paton and his team underwent numerous visits before being awarded a first star for Àclèaf, Borringdon’s finer dining restaurant. Its four-course menu (with optional additional cheese course and wine pairing) presents guests with four options to choose from for each one. With so much produce grown and sourced from the grounds and surrounding local area, I was particularly keen to try the seafood courses, as well as any dishes with garden ingredients such as the Boringdon bees’ honey (don’t worry, for anyone who remembers, the previous lavender-crazed ones have been replaced).

Quite the spread of bread and hors d’oeuvres arrived at the table, with truffle honey butter; beignets and manchego bites making up a few of the dishes – the range of flavours cutting through nicely with the delicate toasted flavour of a glass of Gusbourne sparkling wine.

No dinner is complete with some small form of entertainment and Àclèaf’s take on that is a small survey you have to fill out at the beginning of your meal. Presented with a selection of shapes, colours and leaves, you make these unknown choices based on whatever you’re drawn to – before handing them back to the waiting staff for a surprise later on down the line. You’re told nothing more and simply move onto your four courses.

Wanting to sample as much of the menu as possible, we opted for different dishes – focusing on one meat and one fish choice. To start with, we selected the chicken liver parfait with brioche and the scallop in citrus with green chilli. The first was a mouthful of luxury; delectably rich and creamy and with the choice to spread it across the crispy, flaky brioche or enjoy it solo and butter up your bread instead. The scallop was served as a tartare, the lime and chilli complementing the chunks of raw fish beautifully – though there could have been more of a kick.

The crab with curry and mango in the next course was refreshing in both senses of the word. Packed full of crisp taste and zesty flavour, the dish was also very meaty (something that’s absent even in non-tasting menu portions). We were torn between the turbot and “the hen” – actually guineafowl – and while roasted poultry is simply delicious, it’s probably not what I’d choose to order at a fine dining restaurant, particularly one that was just awarded a Michelin star. However the texture of the turbot dish wasn’t fully sold to us so guineafowl it was. It was undeniably tasty but nothing special so I’d take a risk on the turbot, if I were you, as the table next to us did and had more positive things to say. Diner’s regret – we’ve all been there.

The main 'third' courses of wagyu beef and lemon sole were both standouts
The main ‘third’ courses of wagyu beef and lemon sole were both standouts

The wagyu fillet was a gorgeous cut of meat – served with a haggis beignet and potato slice and a thick gravy drizzled over. This dish saw comfort meet decadence, the satisfaction a steak brings to both a (carnivore’s) palate and stomach – with the refined elegance of a starred restaurant. The sole was very interesting. Presented rolled up, it was glazed in a buerre blanc and served with broccoli puré, a lemon Dashi gel and topped with dried caviar. Impressive and innovative.

Pre-dessert, guests can opt to have a cheese course – at an additional cost of £16 per person. This was quite the show. A range of quince jams, parmesan scones, fresh honey, sliced pear and more arrived at the table before the cheese cart even pulled up. We then sampled a generous selection of Golden Cross goats cheese, 60-month aged Davidstow cheddar, solstice and Oxford blue – all of which were truly enjoyable. While a real treat, and one we opted in for, I found it to be an imbalanced serving compared the rest of the tasting menu. Though far be it from me to claim that too much cheese is ever a possibility, it kind of was here. We struggled to finish the table of treats and I think halving the portion – and the price – would result in a happier dynamic all around.

Remember those forms we filled out at the beginning of the meal? Well, the results came back in the form of palate-cleansers. Unknowingly, I’d selected a sour plate, with lime, vanilla and kiwi making up my (approved) surprise. The other options were sweet and savoury – but you’ll have to dine at Àclèaf yourself to see what you end up with on your plate.

Finally, it was time for our fourth and final course: steering away from the classic chocolate choice in an act of rogue behaviour, we ended up with a coconut mango cake dessert and a white chocolate and raspberry situation; both offering a light and sweet finish to the meal.

Should you be looking for your next occasion-worthy restaurant or perhaps be visiting Plymouth for the weekend, a booking at Àclèaf should be on your radar. Our tip? Book a celebratory stay at Boringdon Hall, enjoying the tranquilities of its Gaia Spa and save Àclèaf for a particularly special night.

Àclèaf’s four-course menu is priced at £120 pp.


Always looking for exciting opportunities to travel, eat fabulous food, and enjoy the fashionable-side of life, Amira writes with passion, enthusiasm and genuine interest.

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