While waiting for the arrival of my dining chum, Su Carroll (freelance writer and former features editor of the Western Morning News), I had a chance to soak up the atmosphere of this pub. There are wooden beams and comfy sofas, and the presence of plenty of chairs and tables filling all the various nooks and crannies of the large dining area suggested that this traditional Devon pub was a popular place. And I wasn’t wrong…
It quickly filled up, even though it was an ordinary Tuesday lunchtime, and Su and I set about perusing the extensive menus, which all featured local produce. Choosing from the specials lunch menu – which runs Monday-Friday, 12noon-2.30pm, and costs £12.95 for three courses – Su chose the whitebait, served with bread and butter, which she described as “perfectly crunchy batter coating the soft fish”. My soup of the day – sweet potato, carrot and coriander (from the main menu) – was light in consistency, with a pleasing hit of warming spice from the herb, served alongside some hot crusty bread. A great start!
The portions are generous, and the kitchen certainly knows what it’s doing with flavour. Su’s stir-fried noodle main course contained strips of “really tender” Devon beef, while the veg still had a crunch. All came coated in an oyster sauce that set the dish off well.
I didn’t regret the waitress’s recommendation of the pub’s signature dish: Whistle Chicken. The portion was very generous, and the meat was made all the more succulent by being wrapped in smoked bacon and stuffed with oak-smoked cheddar. Very rich, very more-ish! The stars of the show for me were the Dauphinoise potatoes, which were oily, garlicky, and sweet – I’ve not eaten better! Swede, broccoli, and red cabbage balanced and lifted this indulgent meal.
I had no room for dessert, but with food this flavoursome, I was replete. However, I did manage a couple of spoonfuls of Su’s lemon posset – its feather-light texture, pleasing lemon punch, and not-too-sweet berry coulis rounded off our lunch.
Su summed up our experience here: “This is good food, well cooked, with prompt service. Donna and Phil (McCann) know their audience, and the chef knows his flavours.”
(Note: dishes taken from the main menu)