Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: A Day at Bovey Castle in the Sunshine

Bovey Castle is a stunning place (or resort as they call it) nr North Bovey in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, Devon.  It is a hotel, golf course, spa plus bistro and restaurant.
We visited on a stunningly hot July day and made the most of it.  You can just see the edge of the Boules pit in the foreground of the photo above.  We spent a lot of the day on those two sun loungers that are almost out of the picture.  And yes, I did get sunburnt....! Grrrrr.
There are many public rooms where you can slurp a cuppa or read a magazine but we were really impressed with the bistro lunch.  There is a beautiful terrace where you can sit in the sun or shade and admire the stunning views.   Above you can see the Lemon Sole that I ordered and the homemade fishcakes that my partner devoured.

Thanks to the generosity of my Australian friend, I had a Spa Experience which meant my first time getting a Hot Stone Massage (this was fairly firm on my back and was preceded by a blissful foot scrub) and a Mini Facial which was exquisite.  The beautician was very skilled and made me feel lovely.  My partner used the gym and then we had the indoor pool and sauna to ourselves as we made the most of them.  There was also a steam room but I am  not a fan of them.  My only quibble was that the Ladies changing rooms had a rack of lockers but they were all locked and had no keys.  I would have liked to use one and the changing room was consequently rather cluttered with everyone's clothes and bags.

Day membership (which my partner used) was £25 which includes all activities and towels excl lunch and golf.  There are some good Groupon deals for the golf at the moment (July 15).  Overall I would highly recommend it.  They say that children are very welcome too - it was during the week and we saw none although we did see the Falconer heading out with his dog and birds.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Devon Cafe Review: Ruby, Exeter - Fab venue and burgers

After a quick stroll around the RAMM, Exeter (a fantastic free museum) we had an almighty lunch in Ruby, located on the corner next to Northernhay Gardens and in the old Effings cafe.  Also it is conveniently close to Central station and the rest of central Exeter.

The place is named after the local Ruby breed of cows of Devon and is fabulously decorated as a 'modern diner'.  Red leatherette booths, high chairs for takeaways and an upstairs galleried seating area. 1950s music playing and a checked floor.

The manager couldn't have done more for us.  He was so cheerful and on-the-ball.  He explained that Ruby is not a chain (it sort of looks like one, perhaps as it is so professionally branded) and they have taken the best elements of burger joints that they admire particularly ones from London and the environs.  So locally sourced food where possible (the buns are from Emma's bakery in Exeter, the meat is from Devon) which tastes mighty fine.  An updated 50s diner for year 2013 in a hugely spacious room.

 I love the black and white retro menu.  Apparently the waffles and the shakes are amazing but we had no space for them as we overdid the savoury course:

 We chose the 'Sliders' which is a course for £15 of three mini burgers of choice (we each chose a pork, a beef and a vegetarian one) plus two side orders.  This is for hungry people!

The battered red onion rings were astounding as were the 'proper chips', and my partner loved the potato salad and the purple coleslaw.  There was nothing wrong with the 'poppers' (deep fried green peppers stuffed with cream cheese) but they beat us!  The burgers were all great - vegetarians will not be disappointed with the 'Faloumi' Burger (unless they have very small mouths - the burger is very tall) and I think although it was a close run thing, the Classic beefburger was slightly better than the pulled pork.  They were both lovely.
My partner couldn't eat all the sides (after eating five burgers...) so they provided a take away box for the leftover cold salads.  If I recommended Ruby to anyone (and I would certainly), I would advise the waiter service (it's more comfortable and less of a faff than the DIY version) and try the Classic burger with 'proper chips' and a shared waffle or shake.  Apparently the alcoholic shakes ('Hardshakes') are a big hit too.

We went there again in early December 2013 as regular customers and it was brilliant again.  The excellent 'summer' potato salad is replaced by Sweet Potato Wedges temporarily, but that was the main difference.

We were guests of Ruby, but I was free to write a critical review of my choice 

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