When Nicola and Rachael invited me to join them in Padstow for the weekend, I decided it would be an excellent opportunity to catch up with my friend Lynn, who moved to Devon a few years ago and I hadn’t seen for ages. It’s more than halfway along my journey, a 4-hour drive from London, leaving me just a shorter journey of a couple of hours to cross over from Devon into Cornwall to join Nicola in Padstow this morning.
I took the scenic route down via the A303, avoiding motorways apart from the first part of the journey. The mileage is less than other routes but because it’s an ‘A’ road, with some parts single carriageway, one can get caught in bad traffic jams. However, it’s such a beautiful journey, across the Salisbury Plain, a close view of Stonehenge, and on into Devon, that I can never resist coming this way. Who wants motorways when one can enjoy driving through one of the most lovely parts of England at a slower pace. The weather was good with sun and clear skies and the view of Stonehenge as I crested a hill was worth battling any heavy traffic.
Lynn lives in the lovely town of Ashburton. Her pretty cottage looks over Mill Meadow.
Arriving at tea time we sat over mugs of tea and slices of gorgeous carrot cake from a local artisan bakery and caught up on life and it felt as if the intervening years when we’d kept in touch mainly via Facebook had only been weeks. She’d booked a table for us to eat that evening at a new restaurant just down the road – less than five minutes’ walk away. The young chefs had been working at another place that closed, opened their own pop-up that proved such a success they’ve now opened permanently in what was the old library – hence their name: The Old Library Restaurant.
Inside it’s simply but attractively decorated with tables made by local craftsmen. A jug of water put on our table unusually had a slice of cucumber in it; it made a lovely refreshing addition. The menu was very appealing and I could have happily chosen anything from it, but decided to start with Squash; Pickled, Mousse & Roasted.
It looked fabulous and didn’t disappoint: creamy squash mousse, slightly tart pickled squash and richly caramelised roasted squash. Lynn meanwhile enjoyed her Tempura ‘fish of the day’ & Dark Thai Sauce.
I chose Confit Duck Lef, Puy Lentils & Spiced Plum Sauce as my main.
I love confit duck and this was perfectly cooked, great with the lentils and a gorgeous sauce. Lynn had Slow Roasted Belly Pork, Sage & Apple Purée & Celeriac Fondant.
Lynn said this was delicious and we had sides of Sea Salt & Rosemary Chips and Roasted Vegetables.
The desssert list was impressively tempting but as we’d indulged in cake earlier, neither of us had space for more. We sat with coffee talking on for some time, the atmosphere convivial; the thought of the cold outside not so inviting. Including glasses of wine, our bill came to £35 each once we’d added a tip. It was an excellent meal, really good, and such a warm and welcoming place to spend an evening and catch up with a lovely old friend.