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!


Seafood Festival, Barnstaple


On the 22nd May, Barnstaple hosted its annual Seafood Festival. In Pannier Market, there were many stalls selling snacks, fresh seafood and local produce. I tried the crab ball from Fatbelly Fred, a popular seafood eatery in Barnstaple. We also bought organic drinks from Luscombe and tried grilled scallops wrapped in pancetta from SunFish Cuisine. It was a fantastic day to sample the best that North Devon offers.