My husband and I were travelling on the a361 looking for somewhere nice to have lunch. We saw the incredibly detailed signs by the side of the road and although we were not able to pull over and read the complete and very long essay that was the advertising board we got the gist that it was a restaurant and cream tea gardens so turned with great excitement at the prospect of lunch in the countryside into the long windy road that led to this strange place. - Having now seen the other trip advisor reviews I now know realise we were stepping into the twilight zone ! just like in a horror film where the unsuspecting victims turn into the drive of the creepy house! Cue the creepy music!
We went in to the main entrance which struck me as a reception area of a 1970s budget hotel ( old carpets, dead things on the walls) but could not really see a restaurant, we wondered past an unmanned reception desk into a little bar area situated in a room that I could only describe as being like a deserted old peoples home.
We wondered around shouting 'hello' and finding nobody around decided to quit this place as it was obviously not the country restaurant we anticipated. We had barely reached the front door when a man came out of a side door . He was a strange looking character with an ill fitting suit and a large satchel. ( cue the 'jaws' music) He asked us if he could help us - we explained we were looking for the restaurant and he pointed to a door and said agitatedly its 'there' but what do you want - its not open. I expressed surprise as it was lunchtime and his reply was its closed because there are no customers today. I asked if perhaps then we could partake of the delicious cream tea as advertised at the road side and he said no you cant the chefs gone home. When I again expressed a little surprise he retort was thus - ' look, we are not open you cant have a cream tea if I havent got the staff in the kitchen obviously, I suggest if you want something to eat you go to Ifracombe where I am sure you will find lots of cheap cafes and tea rooms (and at this he did the inverted commas with his fingers) and a wetherspoons. If you want to have lunch here you have to book , now please can you move your car you are blocking the drive !
I realise in hindsight now having spoke to the locals in the pub that we had had a run-in with the infamous owner of this establishment and had been one of the lucky ones who managed to escape relatively unscathed and lived to tell the tale. One wonders why this man is in the hospitality industry in the first place ? The restaurant is in a lovely setting and could be such a nice venue if some money and thought and customer service were invested into it - but wouldnt have missed this experience for the world as we always have an amusing tale to tell at dinner parties.
I cannot imagine the diatribe of a response that will follow this review. But I will say I now know where the ideas for the characters in Royston Vaisey came from.What a waste of a lovely place and this sort of behaivour gives Devon a bad name. It is no surprise there were no customers there.
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