Church Lane, Tavistock
Hello, handsome! Muddy popped in to this brand new, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, for a heatwave-busting combo of cocktails and ice cream. It's going to be good, this one.
It’s only been open a few weeks and, already, the Instagram feed for Church Lane has hooked me, with its homemade treats and enticing cocktails. This restoration of a crumbling Georgian pile into an elegant, buzzy restaurant, is excellent news for Tavistock and, having popped in for an afternoon snack and a nose around, I’m happy to report that it’s already snuggled itself into the surroundings just perfectly.
I’ve always been a fan of Tavistock, a market town which, in my opinion as a visitor, seems to have just the right amount of everything. It’s an ideal size for a sedate wander, with a clutch of interesting boutiques, deli’s and cafe’s (all particularly good for Christmas gifts, dare I suggest without being pelted), plus the park never fails to keep the Mudlet entertained. But I’d never noticed that, down the, err, lane next to the, erm, church sat such a beautiful building which now houses Church Lane. Small-ish, but grand in its neo-Grecian style, complete with pillars (which always make buildings look a bit more important, don’t they?), it turns out this distinguished Grade II stunner has quite a history, from being the first telephone exchange in Tavistock, to housing documents in a bomb shelter during World War II. But having lain derelict and unloved for ten years until now, who knew it could scrub up so well?
Typical for Georgian buildings, it’s beautifully proportioned downstairs, still retaining that distant feeling of being a home, which it was when it was built back in 1825. You’ve a sunny terrace at the front, overlooking the church grounds, which was well used when we visited and included a few pups who were grateful for the water bowls given to them.
Then, step through the door and you can wander from room to room, choosing your space, from sofa’s to big benches, perfect for groups, all filled with natural light, thanks to those lovely big windows. There’s a cosy lounge, gorgeously decorated in shades of mustard and deep blue, or you can sit in the main space by the bar, where you’ll clock that there’s a bit of a bicycle theme going on. In-keeping with the Mediterranean influences on the menu, cycling is celebrated here, so much so that if you arrive by pedal power, you’ll get 10% off your bill.
The space goes on up a winding staircase, where there are more rooms, one particularly suited to groups, or those wanting private dining. I’m a big fan of the style, with its pared-back Scandi feel, injected with splashes of colour, from the artwork to the gorgeous tiling of the bar and fireplaces. And who doesn’t love a pineapple?
SCOFF & QUAFF:
So onto that Mediterranean-inspired menu. It’s fresh and designed to offer something for every hour of the day. For breakfast, you can munch on a croissant, or plump for a simple pile of buttery toast, washed down with Parisian coffee. Moving through to lunch and dinner, there’s a tempting selection of toasted ciabatta’s, salads, boards of cured meat and seafood for sharing, pasta and authentic, Italian stone-baked pizza’s, which look to be the speciality. Named after famous cyclists, from the Chris Froome to the Lizzie Armistead, you won’t find a bog-standard Hawaiian here – the flavours looked fresh and interesting. For my next visit, I have my eye on the Gino Bartali, with mussels, baby shrimp and calamari, along with fresh pesto and mozzarella.
The bar is going to be a big draw, too, I think. On a Friday afternoon, locals were already popping in for cocktails in the sunshine. My Mr Ed Clancy was a total thirst quencher, with lime, ginger, vanilla and cloudy lemon, topped with ginger ale.
Well, since I took the Mudlet for an early Friday afternoon tea, yes! The menu is small, with only 3 choices but they’re all homemade, fresh and scrummy. Mine chose pasta, with a homemade Neopolitan sauce and cleared the plate. Of course she did, because the deal included Italian Gelato ice cream for £6 and there was no way she was missing that. Don’t blame her.
Being so early, I wasn’t all that peckish, but couldn’t resist ordering a crepe with cinnamon, apple and toffee sauce. Blimey, I’ll be having that again.
OUT AND ABOUT:
Tavistock itself is well worth exploring and, if you’re in the mood to shop, do check out Insideout for gifts and pretty pieces for the home. Country Cheeses shouldn’t be missed, either, if you’re looking to stock up for a Cheese-a-thon in the near future. Further afield, you’re minutes from the Moors and the Tamar Valley is a beautiful place for walking, too. Tea at Hotel Endsleigh, followed by a stroll in the Humphry Repton-designed gardens is a treat I’d highly recommend.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: An afternoon catch-up over cocktails, pizza with friends or lazy weekends with toast, coffee and the papers. The all-day menu makes this a very enticing option for food, drinks or both.
Not for: Pizza’s are the speciality here. There are plenty of alternatives, but worth noting if you’re not a fan of dough!
££: Very reasonably priced, with pizza’s ranging from £11 – £14. Toasted ciabattas are £8, sharing boards run from £13 – £16, salads £9 – £13 and pasta dishes £12 – £13. If you’re just going for drinkies, cocktails run from £7 – £8.
Church Lane, 1 Church Lane, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 8AA. Tel: 01822 610413. churchlanetavistock.co.uk