January 2018: Michael Wignall departs Gidleigh Park after two years with plans to launch his own solo venture. He is replaced by former Restaurant Nathan Outlaw head chef Chris Simpson.
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“Michael Wignall’s has perhaps even surpassed Michael Caines” at this famous culinary Shangri-La – a “special” Tudorbethan manor house in the narrow back-lanes bordering Dartmoor (“if your looking for a special foodie break, then this is just the place”). “The exceptional tasting menus top anything the chef formerly produced at Pennyhill Park, with a magnificent balance of tastes and textures” (“sound absurd but marry perfectly”), and “the intelligent sequencing of dishes” helps create “a sensational gastronomic treat”. There’s “a marvellous wine list” too and “top class service”. “After a meal you can sink into comfortable chairs in the plush lounge for coffee and then wander around the beautiful grounds: as an all-round experience, it’s hard to beat”.
“Obviously everyone was nervous about the departure of Michael Caines, but fear not!” – “Michael Wignall is off to a fine start” at this famous Tudorbethan manor house discovered “after a terrifying drive up a narrow lane” on the fringes of Dartmoor. Once ensconced, there’s the chance to “relax in the beautiful lounge and enjoy a warm welcome” amidst a setting of “country sophistication”, before moving onto the main event in the dining room. The new kitchen’s output is “utterly amazing – so quirky and gorgeous” and backed up by an “exceptional wine list”.
“I don’t think as a package it can be bettered in the UK!” – this “luxurious yet understated” Tudorbethan manor set amidst “wonderful garden and grounds” in a fairly remote corner of Dartmoor is a culinary Xanadu that’s long been a mainstay of the survey’s Top-10 UK Restaurants (No. 6 this year). Michael Caines's “sumptuous” cuisine – “traditional yet tweaked with a modern edge” – is a “pure indulgence” (“like a team of magicians have been at work in the kitchen!”) and backed up by a particularly impressive cellar. In mid-2015 he announced that he would start stepping gradually back from the kitchen here to open his own hotel in Lympstone in early-2017 – The Latymer's Michael Wignall will succeed him.
It’s very hard to fault any facet of this “luxurious yet understated” Tudorbethan manor, “beautifully situated” down “a magical mystery tour” of windy lanes on the edge of Dartmoor; despite his many commitments, Michael Caines’s cuisine is absolutely “terrific”, and service is “flawless” too.
Chris is originally from Barrowford in Lancashire and started his cooking career with Nigel Howarth at Northcote Manor. Chris stayed with Nigel for three years and much of his love of local ingredients and classical cooking started there. He then spent time travelling in Australia, working with a range of restaurants and cooking styles to further his learning, Chris also built his experience at Michelin-star restaurants in the Netherlands at FG in Rotterdam, as well as at The Vineyard in Berkshire, and Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh.
His first role with Nathan Outlaw was at his very first solo venture The Black Pig and culminated in a 17 year association with Nathan and seven years as his Head Chef at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw which gained two Michelin stars in 2011 and was voted as the number one restaurant in the renowned ‘Good Food Guide’ shortly before Chris took up the reins at Gidleigh Park in 2018.
Chris focusses his dishes on the best seasonal ingredients combined with a deep-rooted classical cooking style and a modern interpretation
Menus are carefully crafted without pretension, and his food is defined by the absolute freshness & seasonality of ingredients alongside true clarity of flavour. Chris enjoys experimenting with ingredients, exploring how to bring out the best in them and building flavour combinations and one ingredient can be the inspiration for an entire dish.
His dishes are designed to take advantage of the area’s best produce cooked to maximise flavours with a refined yet apparently simple, honest approach.
Gidleigh Park Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Quite an achievement for Michael Wignall to make the transition seamless (and hold on to the two Michelin Stars) but he has done it while making his own mark and establishing his own style. Faultless, original, stunning to look at and to eat (and backed up by a deep and fascinating wine list) all in a gorgeous setting on the edge of Dartmoor."
"Beautiful all round food fine delicate flavoursome in a gorgeous setting."