M. Herve Bource, the House Manager, offers a welcome which is both charming and knowledgeable with regard to the food and wine served at 22 Mill Street, the excellent restaurant in (where else?), Mill Street, Chagford. On our first visit to this restaurant, some weeks earlier, we had had the taster menu and the presentation and quality of the food were without exception first rate. By the time of our second visit a new chef had been appointed but any uncertainty we may have had over quality was dispelled by the distinction and value of the lunch we were offered.
I chose pigeon breast with black pudding as a starter and my partner had haddock, cooked in brown butter with a butter and milk sauce. Beautifully made bread and two 'amuse bouche’ were served beforehand. We both had very tender venison to follow: one slight criticism - some of the sinew had not been completely trimmed away from the meat – but otherwise perfect. I had chocolate with yoghurt ice cream for desert, with shards of beautifully light meringue. My partner chose from the generous and varied cheese board.
A three-course lunch at 22 Mill Street, Chagford, will cost £21. We were recommended a very good and not expensive wine by M. Bource, whose attention throughout was both warm and discreet. The restaurant itself is attractively decorated with light wood tables and blinds on the street side windows, which contrasts well with the natural stone and wooden beams of this restaurant. It offers an intimate atmosphere but with plenty of space between tables, as well as an anteroom with sofas at the start and finish of one’s visit. Highly recommended.
Chagford is an attractive town, with an inexpensive central car park. Chagford has an extraordinary number of pubs and inns for such a small place!
Like some other cities in Western Europe, Munich offers a reduced rate on public transport if you buy a one, two or three day travel ticket, issued at the main train station and other large train stations in the city. The public transport system is excellent in Munich and consists of overground and underground trains, buses and trams. Some of these lines, such as Tram 18, give a good tour of the many interesting parts of the city and are cheaper than the commercial tour buses.
However, unlike, say, Berlin, the Munich travel ticket offers few if any reductions on entry prices to museums and galleries. By contrast the Berlin "Welcome Card" is excellent in this regard. The Munich Travel Ticket is however well worth the cost because if you are planning to "do" as many of the sights in the city in a period of a few days, the 'hop on and off' nature of the freedom given by the ticket is both convenient and economical. By the way it only needs to be validated (by inserting it into the box at the entry to platforms) once, at the start of your first journey.
Hauptbahnhof, Munchen, and other large stations in the city.
The Asamkirche is a small and highly ornate church, alongside the original home of the two brothers who designed it, in Sendlingerstrasse, in the old centre of Munich. It was built initially as a private church between 1733 and 1746 by the Asam brothers who were obliged (quite rightly) by the church authorities to open it for public worship.
It's a short walk from Marienplatz, in the old city centre, and is an essential item on any visit to Munich. The interior of the church is an extreme example of late Baroque (or Rococo?) design, with curly columns, statues and carvings climbing up the walls and attempting to gain a foothold on the ceiling; painted decorations of all kinds and inscriptions. The high altar offers the climax to the entire extravaganza.
The church was carefully restored between 1975 and 1982. It is unique.
I attended a two-hour organ recital there on my first visit to Munich a few years ago. The pews naturally face forward, towards the altar; the organ however is at the back of the church. As a result of facing the altar for two hours I was obliged to study every detail of it. I think I can still draw the entire thing from memory.
Sendlinger Straße 32, 80331 München, Germany
Google map: bit.ly/PkW1M6
The Alte Pinakothek is one of three world class museum/galleries in close proximity to one another in Munich. The collections here range from the Middle Ages to the end of the Eighteenth century (later work is to be found in the other two museums). The range of work is extensive and includes wonderful examples of paintings by the Old German masters of the Renaissance, such as Cranach and Durer, and Italian and Netherlandish artists of the same period. Each succeeding century is represented by terrific examples from Western European art. For the record, other World art is shown in museums and galleries elsewhere in the city. The Alte Pinakothek is a very large building and is beautifully designed but don't try to do it all in a morning. You'll have very sore feet and a tired back! Decide to tackle one period of art and maybe go back for more on another occasion. One more thing, wear soft-soled shoes! Everyone else seems to, and if you don't you'll clack around the place on the ceramic tile floors.
The Viktualienmarkt is a food market right in the centre of the old part of the city of Munich. While a visit there at any time would be interesting, there are 140 stalls - some free-standing in the open air, others in permanent covered locations - clearly seeing the market and choosing from the extraordinary range of food available would be most rewarding in fine weather.
The market operates throughout the year (Monday to Saturday) and is a good place to eat and drink. Until my recent visit to the city I thought France offered the finest food markets, but the Viktualienmarkt is wonderful and should be included in any visit to Munich.
Viktualienmarkt 3, 80331 München, Germany
Go to Marienplatz U-bahn, or Bus 52, and the market is a short walk to the south, between Peterskirche and Frauenstrasse. The official Munich Tourist Office online has further information.
Google map: bit.ly/SxUAW5
Yes, it's a tourist trap and every guide book recommends a visit, but the Hofbrauhaus in Munich's old district is wonderful. It is indeed unmissable because the atmosphere is great and the beer is even better. It has room for hundreds of people in a vast set of chambers originally built in 1896. The food is good and served promptly but bear in mind that the beer, Hofbrau naturally, comes in quantities of a litre or more - there are no half measures!
One's fellow drinkers are good humoured, ready to talk and have a good time, and there's even a traditional Bavarian 'oompah' band which strikes up every five minutes or so, but curiously fails to play a complete set. Perhaps the players need regular topping-up with Hofbrau and that interrupts their performance.
The Lazy Toad Inn, in Brampford Speke, a village some 15 minutes drive from Exeter city centre, serves excellent food and drink at reasonable prices. Much of the food is locally sourced, including some produce raised in the Inn's own garden.
The Toad also offers accommodation, with the usual facilities, including Wifi access, flatscreen tv, radio alarm, and iPod dock.
It has an attractive interior, with a decorative emphasis upon the eponymous Toad, plenty of space between tables, and a small garden close by with tables for eating and drinking outside in good weather.
The chef/proprietors, Mo and Clive Walker, offer a warm welcome, and the staff generally are knowledgeable and cheerful. The atmosphere combines informality with elegance. It is no surprise that a number of worthwhile awards for quality food have been garnered in recent years. They are highly deserved.
The Fashion Museum is a great place to visit and not just for people who like frocks! The displays are well-designed and you can get very close to the garments and their accessories, so it is quite evident how things have been made and whether or not the tailoring is skilful.
At present there is an excellent special exhibition, on until 2 September 2012, called 'Jubilee: dressing the monarchy on stage and screen', which shows over fifty costumes made for productions over more than 50 years. These are free-standing, and again you can see the garments at close hand and admire the workmanship. But there is much to see in the permanent collections, whether or not you go for this particular show.
The Fashion Museum is a treat and not to be missed.
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