The Treby Arms, Sparkwell.

A few weeks back, being the loving partner I am, I took my better half away for a surprise weekend in Plymouth. A touch of rest and relaxation was in order after a summer of full time work, before her return to University to commence her third and final year a few days later.

I’m not a great believer in coincidence, but The Treby Arms, a Michelin Starred pub and restaurant owned and run by 2012 Masterchef: The Professionals winner Anton Piotrowski and his wife Clare just so happened to be a 15 minute drive away from where we were staying. I know, weird right?

I’ll hold my hands up, I may or may not have known the pub was near by when I arranged this weekend break. It had been on my ‘restaurants to visit’ list ever since I heard that the 2012 winner had set his own place up. I wasn’t totally selfish however, as I had selected The Treby for one dish in particular. Roast Beef is a favourite on most Sunday’s and with both of us being lovers of a good Sunday Roast, I just HAD to find out what happened when the words Michelin and Star (An accolade The Treby gained in 2015) get added to the equation. So a booking was made a week or so prior to our visit and after a lovely Sunday morning walk around Plymouth, we made the short drive and arrived a few minutes before our 1pm reservation.

I’ve been in a few restaurants where Michelin Star or not, the service has been very and probably too formal. This was definitely not the case here and was all the better for it.

Knowing what we were there for we decided to skip on starters, opting for some warm Sourdough instead. The bread was brought to the table alongside a butter and Balsamic dipping oils.

It was a short wait before we moved onto the main event: Roast Beef and all the trimmings. I had this preconceived idea that, being a pub/restaurant with the status it has, the roast beef would come out, delicately presented, with dots of gravy,  a mix of vegetables I’d probably never heard of and of course some roast potatoes, all diced and neatly scattered around the plate all in the name of ‘presentation’.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a plate of food that looks like it’s been sculpted by Picasso, but for me, Roast Beef isn’t the dish to do it with. Slices of Beef, a Yorkshire pudding the size of a small child, some creamed horseradish and of course, no roast would be complete without Gravy, were the first to the table.

This was joined by a bowl of roast potatoes, and a mix of vegetables. Just when we thought our meal was complete, it was then followed by a board with two mini saucepans, one containing Cauliflower Cheese, the other Oxtail Pie.

The beef was undoubtedly the star of the show, cooked a few inches the right side of raw.

Next up, the roast potatoes. A hard golden crunch was the first sensation to fill the mouth, the second being the incredibly fluffy inside that followed.

At this point I was going to tell you about the Cauliflower Cheese that accompanied the Beef. However, half way through the course, I was told everything I needed to know when my girlfriend looked up and said “What did you think of the Cauliflower Cheese?” and as I was about to respond and tell her I hadn’t actually sampled any yet, I realised the saucepan it came in was in fact, empty. Need I say more?

Luckily, I got to the Oxtail Pie before she did. Not having had Oxtail Pie before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The mash on top was the silky smooth consistency that I’ve been trying to nail myself for a little while now, with the meat underneath being tender and succulent all the while reminding me of the sort of good, homely comfort food I want to be eating as we approach the winter months.

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Last up of course, came dessert. For my other half, a Double Decker, Horlicks Marshmallow and Guinness Porter Ice Cream and for me? I had what has become Anton Piotrowski’s signature dish, ever since it was first seen on Masterchef in 2012: Treby’s Gone Carrots.

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This was for me, the highlight of the meal. Before I even had the chance to get a photo of the dish, some theatre was delivered to the table by the addition of dry Ice being poured into one of the small mock plant pots containing some foliage. The effect, as you can see was one that engulfed the entire table but made for some big smiles. The other plant pot housed the Carrot Cake. This was like no Carrot Cake I’d ever tasted before. A layer of deliciously smooth Orange Cream Cheese at the bottom of the pot was followed by a series of mini explosions in the mouth, from little rocks of Popping Candy buried underneath the final layer of a Chocolate soil. The dish was finished off with a small carrot placed through the middle of the dish, and a quenelle  of Orange Sorbet to  give a light refresher from the chocolate soil and cream cheese.

With just some good cutlery and glassware, great food and a level of service that’s not in the least bit intrusive while ensuring you have everything you could want, The Treby is another shining example of how top quality cooking doesn’t have to come with the price tag (the bill coming to £85 including drinks and service) or the formality so often associated with fine dining. As Sundays and Sunday Roasts go, this has to be one of, if not the best to date.

10/10

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