The Vineyard Café
Sharpham Estate Ashprington Totnes Devon TQ9 7UT
The Good Food Guide's Al Fresco Restaurant of the Year 2012, this relaxed outdoor eatery is tucked away in the depths of the gorgeous Sharpham Estate, high above the banks of the Dart Estuary and with relaxing country views. Pretty flower pots and giant jugs of fresh flowers grace chunky wooden tables, one of which is carved out of a giant tree from the estate. Owner Rosie Weston and head chef Charlie Goddard cook up tempting meals to order from local, seasonal ingredients, including Brixham fish, local lamb, Oak Tree Gardens raspberries, signature Sharpham cheeses and other estate produce including salads and vegetables from the walled garden. Quite amazingly, all the food is prepared in a tiny mobile trailer affectionately known as the 'magic box', but the quality is always high. The menu changes according to what's available, but you can expect simply prepared Modern British dishes such as leek and cheese croquets, pork, pistachio and prune terrine, pea, mint and cheese fritters, local crab, sweet potato, carrot and cumin tart, crispy belly of port and John Dory with slow cooked fennel. Puddings are indulgent and homemade, and Sharpham's own delicious wines make up the list, including the refreshing and dry Sharpham Bacchus – and there are Luscombe soft drinks available. It's advisable to book ahead for lunch (by phone, not email); you can also pitch up after the busy lunchtime period for tea and homemade cakes. The staff are warm and friendly, high chairs are available, and the café is next to the winery for wine tours and tasting sessions. There's also a farm shop selling Sharpham wine, cheese, patés, chutneys and other tasty things. The cafe only closes if the weather is unbearable – there are blankets available if it turns chilly.