Dartmouth: Cafes, Castles and Exorbitant Dinners – The Wandering Weasel
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Dartmouth: Cafes, Castles and Exorbitant Dinners

| Posted in Big Trips, Country Style, Weekend Breaks

It’s amazing what a little time can do to change your perspective on a place.

My childhood holidays spent in Devon were ruled by frugality.

We were constantly on a shoe-string budget during the 1990s, so you could pretty much forget about any fancy meals out or exorbitant trips to the ice cream parlour. Then again, considering the standard of food back in the 90s, perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing after all…

Thankfully, myself and my parents can afford to splash out a little more, which is fortunate when you consider how many places there are to spend money in Dartmouth.

I would never describe Devon as a cheap place to visit. Fuel costs a lot more in these far flung towns and you’ll often find that food will also come at a dearer price. There are many tourist traps in Devon that seek to take advantage of this and will end up charging the unwary visitor an arm and leg for a sub-par meal. Dartmouth is a town that will charge you an arm and a leg for a meal, but the quality will be of such a high standard that you really won’t mind spending the money.

It took my Dad some convincing to not cook a fry-up when we woke on Saturday, however he changed his tune when we cruised into peaceful Dartmouth and sidled into the understated Cafe Alf Resco for brunch. Going out for brunch is the kind of luxury that my parents had never really indulged in before – “It’s just eggs and bread, why should you have to pay through the nose for it?”

Two slabs of artisan bread, with some perfectly poached eggs soon put an end to any complaints about value and set us up for a day’s visit to Dartmouth Castle.

Going to visit a National Heritage site is one of those things that I’ll only ever do with my parents, but I always surprise myself with how much I enjoy them. Dartmouth Castle is a sterling example of architectural conservation in action, although sections of this coastal fortress are now approaching nearly 600 years old, you’d never tell, allowing an almost seamless transition from the quaint town of Dartmouth into the 14th century castle interiors. Military buffs will enjoy the collection of armaments and the maze of tunnels (built during the Victorian era) are still a joy to walk around.

In fact, the entirety of Dartmouth is accessible on foot and with parking mercilessly few and far between, you’ll want to pay for the whole day so that you can leave the car in one place. With breakfast a now distant memory, the time had come once more to bite the bullet and sit down for another expensive meal – our dinner at the Bushell’s Upper Deck turned out to be a little more complex than our sturdy breakfast.

Bushell’s Upper Deck is one of two high-end restaurants in Dartmouth owned by Jaime and Sarah Bushell.

Starters cost around £7-8 and with mains costing between £15-£25, we all knew that the final check was going to hurt our wallets somewhat. The Upper Deck is a great example of Devonshire hospitality done right, whilst the price may well set off alarms, the food and atmosphere more than made up for this. Despite the high-end costs, there was a homespun charm to the meal.

From the dated furniture to odd crockery choice, these touches made us feel like we were in someone else’s home more than a freshly refurbished restaurant – certainly not a bad thing.

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