Christmas Lunch at Thomas Carr at the Olive Room, Ilfracombe

Thomas Carr at the Olive Room was recently rewarded a Michelin Star for its use of fresh, local ingredients and superb flavours, and it is certainly very popular. I was wanting to try the food here, but the restaurant is currently closed at lunchtimes and closed on my only day off! So…I have been waiting a long time! On their Facebook page last year, they announced they had late cancellations for Christmas lunch, so why not try something different to your usual Christmas fare?

When you arrive, it is not what you would expect a Michelin Star restaurant to be like. It is quite a small restaurant, we almost drove past it! Inside there were only two other tables and the owner’s family seated for Christmas lunch. I can’t imagine a lot of people can be seated on a weekend night. The other Michelin restaurant I have visited was Castle Terrace Restaurant in Edinburgh, where the restaurant was huge, grand and the staff professionally trained. The Olive Room resembles a more smaller and cosier affair, where the staff are friendly and not afraid to talk to you.

The restaurant is simple and clean inside, and of course, decorated for Christmas! We had crackers on our table, complete with little toy and bad joke!

The restaurant is nothing fancy inside as I have said, so there seems to be a big emphasis on the food. After our drinks, we received some homemade bread with butter.

On Christmas Day, the restaurant was only serving a six course taster menu for £80 per person, so we were in for a long afternoon! We spent a good few hours here enjoying the food!

First up was some crab mayo on bacon and cheddar toast decorated with watercress and fresh apple. This was so delicious, I could have happily eaten more!

To follow, we had scallop with hogs pudding, artichoke crisps and artichoke foam. Again, the flavours and texture were divine!

Next, was a stone bass fillet with prawns, tempura squid rings and a bouillabaisse sauce. I wasn’t overly keen on the sauce, which had orange citrus flavours to it, but the seafood was cooked well, and the squid rings were lovely.

Afterwards, we ate the roast beef, served with potato truffle terrine, mushrooms and oxtail. The flavours were lovely, my only criticism is that we were asked how we wanted our beef to be cooked. Although we asked for medium, it came out very pink!

At this stage, we were feeling very full! But now was dessert time (with a pot of tea)! I am not normally a fan of lemon but this lemon posset was really nice. It was lemon jelly, under a lemon cream with biscuit crumbs topped off with a yoghurt sorbet. This also comes with a shortbread biscuit on the side.

Sadly, I couldn’t make it to the end and finish everything! The last dessert was a dark chocolate torte with burnt orange puree, honeycomb pieces and clotted ice cream. This is a nice dessert, very rich! However, I was too full to finish!

All in all, I enjoyed my visit. The restaurant fully deserves its Michelin star. The use of ingredients and combination of flavours is really inventive and tasty. It seems a lot of thought goes into every dish, and it is a credit to North Devon! Of course, the price is expensive, but average compared to other Michelin establishments.

I would like to return again, depending on their opening times, but I would probably opt for ordering off the standard menu rather than the tasting menu. I would definitely recommend The Olive Room to those who are visiting or live near Ilfracombe! Fantastic food and service!

Christmas Decorations in Barnstaple

I am always fascinated with Christmas decorations and how people use their imagination to create amazing displays that capture the Christmas spirit. These pictures are from Barnstaple, Devon.

Every year, Green Lanes shopping centre hosts a Santa’s Grotto for children. They are always elaborately decorated, and last year was no exception! They created a beautiful winter wonderland from the Artic.

I particularly like the penguin who got his head stuck in the snow!

The high street was decorated with twinkling orbs throughout.

In Joules, they had a winter mouse looking for Father Christmas.

Just Trio always have fantastic Christmas displays and I admire the effort they go to. In one window, they had a gingerbread house…

Squirrels playing in the snow…

Flying polar bear over a snowcapped town…

Polar bear and a Christmas wreath…and Christmas flamingos!…

Pizza Express, Barnstaple

I have never been to a Pizza Express before, despite many people saying that the food is delicious. Last month, I tried it for the first time. We visited on a early Monday evening and sat next to the kitchen. You are able to see the chefs cooking the food. The food is a mix of pizza (obviously) and pasta. I was in the mood for a lasagne. My partner had a mozzarella and tomato pizza with added meat toppings.

The desserts are quite big. This is a tiramisu we shared for afterwards.

I love the napkins – they are so funny!

I was fairly impressed with my first visit, much better than Pizza Hut and Prezzo, related competition in the area. The food is generously sized and tasty, and the service was very knowledgeable and helpful. The price is great value too. From time to time, they hold their own offers – they had a free dessert if you order starter and a main. Before leaving, they gave me a 2 for 1 mains voucher to use in January, so it is easy to save money when you eat here. I couldn’t use these offers with my student discount, however, the discount gave us 40% the bill (not valid during the weekend I think)…so I am not complaining!

Afterwards, we went to Let’s Go! for some bowling. It is the only activities venue in the area and it is not exactly amazing. It offers ice skating, laser tag, karaoke, arcade games and bowling but I have heard negative things about their facilities. We paid £24 for two games for two people on a quiet evening (for our second game, we were the only people). The bowling facilities could do with some updating – everything looks old-fashioned and the skittles mechanism kept freezing. The staff are friendly however.

I won’t post any bowling pictures or scores…it is too embarrassing! I like the way they got into the Christmas spirit however…

Morrisons Gingerbread House

We recently got one of these Gingerbread House DIY sets from Morrisons, which looks very Christmassy. The photo on the box looked very impressive, I doubted I could recreate this look!

…And despite my efforts, I could not! I tried my best!

Included in the box are the gingerbread, plastic tray, packet of white icing and assorted sweets for decoration. The icing is already pre-made but requires you to massage it for 1 minute to soften it. However, I needed longer than this because the icing was still too hard.

The gingerbread house comes in six pieces which are assembled with help of the plastic tray and some icing. This was fairly easy to do! The gingerbread smells delicious that I have to impose some self-control and not eat it…

The tricky bit (and messy) was decorating the house. I found icing was difficult to do – sometimes it was too hard to get out of the bag, and sometimes it would not stick to the gingerbread itself! Trying to ice the windows and doors was a nightmare!

So in the end, this was the result of my efforts! It didn’t really look like the picture at all! Maybe it was just me? I had a look at other people’s efforts on Instagram and they look amazing! I think I am not suited to this kind of thing…And I ate one gingerbread man during the making of this house. He was delicious.

“What a lovely house for the three of us! Wait!…Where’s Gary? He was here just a minute ago?…”