The Angel: A Dartmouth Institution That’s Keeping It Simple

By Susan Springate

3 weeks ago

Inside the iconic riverside restaurant

MasterChef the Professionals’ finalist Elly Wentworth is putting girl power back on the menu at popular quayside restaurant The Angel in Dartmouth.

Restaurant Review: The Angel, Dartmouth

Dartmouth has been punching above its weight in terms of fine cuisine for years. Joyce Molyneux first put the town on the gastronomic map back in the seventies when she assumed the role of head chef at The Carved Angel and became one of the first women in the UK to earn a coveted Michelin Star. How appropriate, then, to see that another award-winning female chef, and former MasterChef: the Professionals’ finalist, Elly Wentworth, has been blazing her own trail here on the same premises, now reinvented as The Angel, since 2018.

Much like Joyce, Elly passionately champions the use of fresh, seasonal, and sustainable produce in her dishes, collaborating closely with local suppliers, who understand her appreciation of quality ingredients.

Elly Wentworth

We opted for the a la carte menu on a Friday evening, still light enough to enjoy the view of Kingswear’s colourful ‘Ballymory-esque’ houses on the opposite bank of the Dart Estuary. The décor is decidedly pared-back, clean white-linened tables and green velvet banquettes beneath a central rectangular crystal chandelier. A simple canvas for the elegant food on offer. 

A glass of Bollinger was just the ticket to clean the palate and prepare for the array of delicacies from a brand-new menu that heralded the summer season. For starters, we chose the Brixham crab risotto, with preserved lemon and langoustine bisque, a luxurious salty taste of Devon, with a lovely bite. The poached Wye Valley asparagus, with potato mousseline and Wiltshire truffle meanwhile, was a thing to behold: a mixture of white and green seasonal asparagus, as pretty as a picture with its delicate purple flowers and which tasted as good as it looked.   

Risotto at The Angel restaurant in Dartmouth

My son and I, however, plumped for the roasted free diver scallops with spicy tomato jam and fennel fondue, inspired, we were told, from the scallop dish Elly created on the Great British Menu. Elly is very particular about her scallops and uses a local supplier, Jamie of Greenstraight Scallops, who dives to catch every scallop with a single breath. He uses neither tanks nor equipment, ensuring the scallops are as natural as possible, and delivered to the restaurant literally within minutes.

The secret of course is in the cooking, and I have to say for me, they were the star of the meal, the woody roasted flavour of the accompanying broth so moreish that we had to order extra sourdough bread to mop it all up. Elly has included a scallop recipe in her debut cookbook, The Angel, which was published in May 2024, and includes a history of the restaurant, and a wonderful insight into her ethos.

To accompany the scallops, we were recommended a Slovenian wine, the Malvazija, Gasper, Brda, 2022, and then treated to some chicken liver parfait with pickled walnut ahead of our next course.

Our mains were Devonshire lamb with asparagus, spring pea and lamb jus. The lamb is a rare breed of Devonshire lamb, which was reintroduced and is well known for its flavour. Elly says in her book that lamb is one of her favourite meats to cook and she prides herself on using the best local Devonshire lamb. It shows. 

Of course, it would have been a crime not to try the fish too and others in our group opted for the monkfish with roasted chicken consommé and a rosti-style potato. On reflection, I wish I had tried the poached halibut with buttered lettuce, truffle beurre blanc and tomato, which I espied through the open kitchen. It looked delicious. 

Coconut lychee at The Angel, Dartmouth

Then pudding: for me the salted caramel tart with tonka bean ice cream, with a salty sweetness that did not disappoint. Two of us had the famous ‘All White’ with coconut lychee and tangy yuzu, while my husband selected the gariguette strawberry choux bun with lime curd, which we all agreed was the best of the bunch, tangy and zesty, with an intense taste of strawberries. 

Elly likes to keep it simple, using local produce and adapting to each season, but she has a unique talent, as fellow south western chef Paul Ainsworth has pointed out, of combining ‘recognisable and beautiful ingredients and turning them into showstoppers.’ There is no doubt that her stint competing in MasterChef the Professionals has helped her raise the profile of the restaurant and her profile as a chef, but her understanding of flavours and attention to detail, have enabled her to keep The Angel at the top of its game.

‘Continuing the legacy of Joyce Molyneux, I want to make The Angel a foodie destination again,’ she has said. Well, she has succeeded. 

The Final Word

Stunning views over the Dart and ingredients so fresh you can taste the sea.

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