The Elephant in Torquay, run by husband-and-wife team Simon and Katy Hulstone, is returning to a permanent single-storey operation as it combines its first-floor Michelin-starred the Room restaurant and cocktail bar with the former brasserie on the ground floor.
The fine-dining upstairs restaurant, which has held a Michelin star for 11 years, and is the only starred restaurant in Torbay, was opened in 2008 to enable a more casual service to continue in the original, downstairs restaurant. The ground floor became a brasserie serving a range of freshly prepared, simple dishes which made the most of local produce while the Room, open from mid-April until October, served only tasting menus.
However, following a refurbishment of the 55-cover, brasserie, the Hulstones have taken the step to offer the tasting menu alongside a seasonally changing à la carte menu in the ground floor restaurant again, utilising the Elephant's farm produce. The space vacated by the Room will return to residential use.
The Hulstones hope that returning to one restaurant will help to improve working conditions for the team, and enable them to deliver a consistently excellent experience to diners without having the pressure of running two restaurants.
Simon commented: "The Elephant originally started out as a ground floor restaurant and we only introduced the Room so that we could make the ground floor more accessible to those who didn't necessarily want a tasting menu experience. With dining becoming less formal, even at the highest standards, we felt the time was right to create a dining space that reflects modern eating out trends and gives our guests a wider food offering throughout the year while maintaining our ethos for quality ingredients and fantastic service."
He added: "Working at this level is always hard work so moving back to one restaurant will also provide welcome relief to the team during the busy summer months."
In addition to its Michelin star, the Elephant also holds three AA rosettes. Simon was the British representative of the Bocuse d'Or in 2009 and 2011, and he won the Roux Scholarship in 2003. In 1995, aged 20, he became the first British chef to win a gold medal at WorldSkills.
Last year, Simon and his chef father Roger took over the running of Burridge's Café Tearooms, also in Torquay, a 48-cover harbourside property with outside seating for a further 12. At the time, he told The Caterer: "I've always been an ambassador for Torquay and have been thinking about a new venture here for a while.
"With all the recent investment and redevelopment, it feels like the right time to be starting out with a completely different style of venture but with the same values and commitment to quality as with the Elephant. Due to its size and location, Burridge's is a very adaptable site but we are going to see how it goes as a tearoom to begin with, with a view to extending the menu and hopefully taking on a third venture in the coming months."
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