Tucked away behind the gift shop and museums at the House of Marbles is the Old Pottery Restaurant. I say tucked away, but plenty of people find it as it was pleasantly busy on the afternoon my wife, daughter and I had lunch there.
The building is full of character, with wooden beams and the striking view outside of three old furnaces, once part of the pottery workings. Old black and white photos on the walls add a sense of history, reminding visitors again of the pottery's past. In complete contrast, and somewhat of a surprise when you walk in, is the collection of (almost) life-sized stuffed animals above the kitchen area – a zebra, moving gorilla and ostrich are among the creatures all looking down approvingly at the restaurant.
The warm welcome and efficient service adds to the happy atmosphere generated by contented customers. The menu is large and local produce is sourced; I had a bottle of Teignworthy's Reel Ale (and was asked whether I wanted one from the fridge or shelf), while my wife drank a bottle of Luscombe Lemonade.
You can eat brunch, a sandwich, salads, a cream tea, main meals or lighter meals here, not to mention the large and tempting selection of cakes on display.
There are also wheat-free and gluten-free options. I chose the beef and mushroom pie – comforting on a cold winter's day. The pastry was light, crisp and not too thick, allowing for plenty of filling. The large chunks of tender beef in a red wine gravy did not mask the flavour of the mushrooms, which were cooked perfectly (not too soft). My wife had the spicy vegetable and bean casserole with garlic ciabatta. Again, this was bursting with ingredients – a hearty mixture of celery, swede, courgette, peppers, carrots and sweetcorn and a variety of beans. The spice was mild, adding a subtle heat, and the melted cheese topping enhanced the flavour, while the toasted bread added to the casserole's texture.
Dessert-wise, my choice of lemon meringue pie was a good one. The pastry, similar to that of the pie, was thin and crisp with plenty of intensely flavoured lemon filling and light meringue. My wife's apple and blackberry crumble was packed with fruit and the very generous helping of custard kept her happy.
After coffee we wandered back through the gift shop and wished we could have spent longer here to explore the marble museum and pottery. Well, it's just the excuse I need to return and sample some of those cakes...