Plymouth brethren

07 August 2001 by
Plymouth brethren

There's no sibling rivalry at Tanner's restaurant in Plymouth, Devon, where brothers Christopher and James Tanner work side by side in the kitchen, assisted by two more chefs. "We work well together, bouncing ideas off of each other," says Christopher Tanner.

Opening Tanner's in July 1999 was prompted by their shared dream of creating a restaurant that was affordable yet exciting, by drawing on their cumulative experience gained in British cities such as London and Bath, and further afield in France and the USA. "We wanted to develop our own style and provide fine food, fine wine and an ambience to match," Christopher says.

The location of the restaurant in Prysten House, the oldest surviving domestic building in Plymouth, goes some way to creating an ambience. Built in 1498, the house borders three sides of a courtyard, the fourth side of which is overlooked by the beautiful St Andrew's church. The courtyard becomes a popular draw for diners during the summer months, and throughout the year the restaurant can accommodate 45 people, split between two rooms.

A set-price dinner menu offers two courses for £19.95 or three courses for £22.50, not including wine. "We have to be very careful on price," says Christopher. "People here will not pay London prices." To keep costs down, and to ensure availability of the freshest ingredients, the brothers grow vegetables at both their homes. Fresh herbs, including lavender and bay leaves, are grown in the restaurant's courtyard, where their scent wafts over diners.

One of the most requested dishes on the dinner menu, which is changed every two weeks, is the starter of pan-seared scallops, served in their shells with crispy pancetta and chargrilled asparagus. The dish carries a supplementary charge of £3 but, according to Christopher, this has not dented its popularity with the average of 45 diners a night.

Also popular among the clientele, mainly local business people and their families, are quail served on salad vinaigrette with crispy pancetta; and marinated tuna with white radish and toasted sesame seeds. Among the main courses is pan-seared sea bass flavoured with fennel and orange, and a popular option for vegetarian diners is crostini of potato, flavoured with garlic and served with a French bean and shallot salad.

Each dinner menu features five desserts, including a selection of West Country and Continental cheeses served with home-made chutney. "The secret of a good dessert menu is to keep it simple," says Christopher, who believes that a d‚lice of raspberries served with blackcurrant sauce is the favourite dessert at present.

He considers the simplicity of the desserts and the light nature of the majority of them a factor in encouraging many diners to order all three courses, bringing the average spend per head at weekends to about £40 per person.

A selection from the menu at Tanner's

Two courses, £19.95; three courses, £22.50
Dart smoked salmon with pickled vegetables
Cream of wild mushroom soup with garlic croutons
Terrine of goats' cheese with roasted artichoke salad
Roast Gressingham duck breast with caramelised blue figs
Maple-baked pork loin with black pudding and caramelised apples
Chargrilled cannon of lamb with roast garlic and dauphinoise potato
Steamed pav‚ of brill with smoked shrimp sauce
Chocolate chip waffles with banana ice-cream
Vanilla crème brûlée
Sable of apples served with a Calvados sorbet

Menu of the month

Host restaurant and bar in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire (Caterer, 14 June 2001, page 54) has been named Menu of the Month winner for June. It wins a hamper of Baxters food to the value of £100, and automatically goes forward to the shortlist for the 2002 Cateys Menu of the Year, sponsored by Baxters Foodservice.

Tanner's Restaurant, Prysten House, Finewell Street, Plymouth PL1 2AE. Tel: 01752 252001

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking