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Playing with Fire

Chrissy Harris finds out where to go in Devon for a flame-grilled food fix

Scallops at The Oyster Shack

It’s summertime and there’s only one thing on our minds – barbecue! You could fire up your own, or, better still, let the experts do it.

The Millbrook Inn, South Pool

Just the very thought of Iain Dawson’s sticky lemon ribs sizzling away on the coals at the picturesque Millbrook Inn is enough to get anyone’s juices going. Top chef Iain is originally from Canada, where he was a finalist in the country’s national barbecue competition.

This guy knows how to cook food on fire, which he does surrounded by the South Devon countryside. There’s a barbecue every day of the school holidays at the Millbrook, which prides itself on working with local farmers and suppliers to serve the best cuts of meat. There’s a smoker on the go here all the time, with wood sourced from local tree surgeons.

As well as some delicious-sounding short ribs and pulled pork with Canadian barbecue sauce and Asian slaw, Iain is planning to serve up a few jackfruit sliders and local fish at the Inn’s barbecue events. Everyone will be drooling.


The Winking Prawn, Salcombe

King prawns, whole mackerel and Cajun salmon served with hot dressed potatoes, will all be dished up overlooking the glorious North Sands beach. This is a pretty special way to spend a summer’s evening. The Winking Prawn barbecues are part of the fabric of life in Salcombe and well worth sampling.


The Beachside Grill, Saunton

Overlooking North Devon’s famous Saunton beach, the two-storey Beachside Grill (part of the Saunton Sands Hotel) smokes and grills local ingredients to perfection.

Monkfish, whole sea bass and jumbo shrimps are just a few of the seafood options. Or choose from sirloin, rib-eye steak (with jumbo prawns on the side, if you want) and smoked pork belly.


Pig & Pallet, Topsham Quay

Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay set up the Pig & Pallet after the success of their Devon charcuterie firm Good Game.

Their industrial-sized smoker is permanently on the go outside the restaurant, cooking up low and slow Red Ruby chuck steak and pulled pork, plus smoked barbecue baby and back pork ribs. They also serve a full vegan menu, which includes a pulled jackfruit sandwich.

For the full outdoor experience, catch the Pig & Pallet at the Topsham Beer and Bacon Festival from 6–8 September.


The Royal Oak, Meavy

This lot tend to go wild on the August bank holiday weekend, with a rather unusual grilled meat feast. Boar, buffalo, venison and pony burgers are served as part of the 15th-century pub’s wild food barbecue, gin and cider festival. For the slightly less adventurous, there are pork and beef options.

The two-day event takes place from 24–25 August.


The Oyster Shack, Bigbury

If the sun’s out, the chefs are out at this popular spot. The barbecues will be lit, ready to cook fresh seafood, including hand-dived scallops, hake fillets, John Dory, cuttlefish, squid, plus local seasonal vegetables, such as chargrilled asparagus and courgette.

The shack has also just installed a new wood-fired oven in the outdoor kitchen.


The Volunteer Inn, Sidmouth

Owners Matt and Lyndsay Fudge are making this friendly local a top barbecue destination with their regular summer smoker events in the pub’s beer garden.

Brisket, pork steaks and chicken wings, all using house rubs and sauces will be on offer. There’s no need to book. Just turn up and let them get their grill on!


The Porthole Café, Woolacombe

Enjoy the sun, sea and sand dunes at this recently opened venture. With that kind of view on offer, alfresco dining is a must. Popular local caterers Seadog run the Porthole and hope to fire up the coals this summer for some barbecued mackerel, among other delights.

People can book, bring their own cutlery and drinks, and then get stuck in to the food and those views. To think this place was once a public toilet block.

The Royal George, Appledore

Garth and Sascha Hughes have taken on and refurbished the historic Royal George, quickly turning it into one of the area’s must-try foodie spots.

Situated on the beautiful Taw and Torridge Estuary, the views are as stunning as the food. The pub recently acquired a very swanky, commercial grade Argentine-style grill, which will be used for barbecue events this summer.

Expect Middle Eastern-themed flavours, such as harissa-spiced lamb shoulder, shawarma, as well as Greek-style chicken, pork, lamb gyros (meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie).


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