Despite vowing to return to a more virtuous way of eating after an extremely sinful Christmas, my steadfast appetite prevailed just in time for my first visit to the Pig Hotel at Combe in East Devon.
As part of a festive surprise to my parents, I decided to treat them (and myself) to a trip to one of the West Countries most talked about foodie destinations. Nestled amongst 3,500 acres of lush cedar wood and rolling hills near the quaint village of Gittisham, this grand Elizabethan hideaway offers the perfect escape for urban dwellers near and far.
The Pig at Combe is the fifth in the litter of this contemporary hotel group, opening it's doors to the hungry public earlier this year. With hospitality professionals Robin Hutston and Fiona Moores behind this creative and visionary refurb, you're certain to endure a truly opulent experience from arrival to departure.
Aside from pure culinary indulgence, the agenda of our visit was to revel in the surroundings of this gorgeous location - and after fifteen minutes of initial exterior eyeballing, we couldn't wait to step through the grand oak doors to reveal more.
Despite the formal appearance of the hotel, we were pleased to be welcomed into a relaxed and "shabby-chic" lounge bar, equipped with a roaring fire and chesterfield sofas. This cosy introduction favours positively over the conventional stuffy reception format.
Before being ushered into the dining room, we made our way into the slightly more relaxed lounge area for some pre-dining drinks.
We were shortly presented with a surprise quad of complimentary fizz and "Piggy Bits", successfully setting the afternoons expectation high before we'd even sat down at our table. Our platters comprised of some classic culinary pairings (pigs in blankets/quails scotch eggs), along with some innovative accompaniments (crispy fried kale/salted breaded cod) - all of which were devoured instantly.
After a satisfying start, we eagerly made our way into the main dining area for our following courses. The intended field to fork aesthetic is instantly recognizable; with potted fresh herbs, wood render and statement taxidermy dispersed throughout. This agrarian theme continues into their food offering - housing a wide selection of organic meat, poultry, fish and vegetable plates - all sourced from local suppliers. What's more, the Pig is proud to boast of their three on-site vegetable gardens - giving them access to fresh, seasonal produce all year round.
Feeling comfortably full after our initial bites, there was no need to opt for a starter - however, I still managed to find room to sample some of the kitchens freshly baked sourdough with infused oil and smoked sea salt [not guilty].
In need of something lighter for my main, I elected the grilled Hake fillet. The fish was cooked to perfection, and the unorthodox accompaniment of the watercress puree complimented nicely. I would say (for the people with big appetites), that you'd be advised to order an additional side as the food:plate ratio is by no means equal. However, if you're planning on a three-course blow out, then of course - pace yourself.
Although we had not planned for a desert, our kind waitress Morgan brought over a selection of complementary "Piggy Fours" to sample with our coffees. Adequate stomach space was found shortly after.
After a delicious meal, we headed back to the snug lounge to enjoy some hygge-esque comfort by the crackling fire - in my eyes, the perfect way to complete a generous feeding.
Looking around at the other bleary eyed and content guests, you could see they had the same idea.
So if you're looking to spoil yourself or a loved one with a touch of luxury, then take a trip to quintessentially British Pig at Combe - or for that matter, any of their piggy manors. Whether you're retreating for a long weekend, or a special dining outing - this indulgent haven offers all you need for a truly charming getaway.
For more information on how to book in at The Pig, click here.