The worst days of lockdown are behind us for now, but it’s strange how during this restrictive time, it was the simple things that you ended up missing most. A hug from loved ones, a night out at the cinema, or being able to go out for a nice meal and wash it down with a refreshing drink.
With lockdown easing and businesses reopening, we’re all thinking about getting back into our old routines as safely as possible and supporting the businesses we know and love. Among those businesses that need our support are pubs and restaurants, with the hospitality industry reeling harder than most from the effects of the lockdown.
If you’re looking for somewhere in Devon to go out for a relaxing drink and enjoy a delicious bite to eat, here are 10 of the best gastropubs in Devon.
The Cadeleigh Arms, Tiverton
A pub that is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and being particularly dog-friendly, The Cadeleigh Arms is also famed for its delicious food. Normally, The Cadeleigh Arms runs three menus, but following the lockdown, this gastropub is serving an Al Fresco menu for guests outside and table service for those with reservations indoors. Dishes like the catch of the day from Newlyn and chicken in a Thai green style sauce are on the indoor menu, with summer vegetable risotto and a Devon Ruby Cheeseburger among the al fresco offerings. They’re also offering takeaway, if they’re overbooked!
Five Bells Inn, Clyst Hydon
With its thatched roof and immaculately manicured garden, The Five Bells in the quiet village of Clyst Hydon is a charming pub from the outside, with a cosy interior and top-notch food to boot. The pub prides itself on using the finest local produce to create delicious takes on pub classics, like a slow-braised beef cheek oat and ale suet crust pie, alongside a range of tempting specials.
The Swan, Bampton
The AA named The Swan as its Inn of the Year for 2019-2020. Not enough for you? The Swan has the vibe of a classic countryside English pub, with wooden ceiling beams and a welcoming bar area. It’s a pub that does the simple things right to add to up to a fantastic experience; a seasonal menu that offers delights like rump of Exmoor lamb, a crisp pint from the pumps and friendly service make this an absolute must visit.
The Cornish Arms, Tavistock
This pub was once your standard weekend boozer, but a complete overhaul back in 2013 by St Austell Brewery transformed the Cornish Arms into an airy, sophisticated gastropub with an emphasis on offering the best of everything; a menu that ranges from simple dishes like ham, egg and chips to more elaborate fare like roasted duck with confit leg raviolo, a fantastic range of drinks on tap and the best in customer service. The pub has featured repeated in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list (like many on our list) and makes a visit to the pretty moorland town of Tavistock even more appealing.
Start Bay Inn, Torcross
If you’re into seafood, there are few better than The Start Bay Inn, which has its own boat – so you know their catches are fresh! The menu is a list of ever-changing fish specials, including monkfish, skate, crab, scallop and lobster; if you fancy a rustic fish and chips, here you get a giant portion in a light batter. The 14th century thatched pub has astonishing views, with the sea at the front and Slapton Ley lake behind. If you like fish, it’s worth a visit!
The Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island
If you’re on the south coast and fancy finding a pub that you could picture in an 1800s novel, The Pilchard Inn is a good shout. The pub’s been quenching the thirst of visitors for over 700 years, first serving fishermen, then smugglers and wreckers, now focusing on the tourist trade! Huge stone fireplaces, small alcoves and exposed stonework set the aesthetic, while traditional pub grub and seafood are on the menu.
The Masons Arms, Knowstone
This award-winning pub has a Michelin Star it’s held since 2006, has featured in the Trencherman’s Guide and draws guests from far and wide; it’s no great surprise considering the pub is run by Mark Dodson, a former head chef at Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn for 12 years before taking over The Masons Arms. The menu has a focus on creativity, precision and the finest seasonal local ingredients and you’ll be guaranteed a great meal here.
The Peter Tavy Inn, Peter Tavy
If you’re after classic British pub grub in an easy-going and welcoming country setting, you can’t go wrong with The Peter Tavy Inn. A hidden gem that has remained popular locally for 20 years, this pub gets the classic gastropub experience right in a building that dates back to the 15th century — you’ll want to watch your head in certain spots if you’re fairly tall! Make sure to try the sticky toffee pudding while you’re here!
The Rugglestone Inn, Widecombe in the Moor
The Rugglestone Inn may only be opening its garden up for dining following the lockdown, but what a garden to dine in! Named as one of the best 30 beer gardens in the UK, The Rugglestone Inn is a delightful gem hidden on one of the highest spots of Dartmoor National Park. The pub itself is covered in ivy and has narrow corridors and low door frames that reveal its past as a former cottage. The food is not pretentious but definitely delicious and well worth making the trip up onto the high moor.
The Arundell Arms, Lifton
Whether you want fine dining, Brasserie style food or those traditional classics, The Arundell Arms is a great place to eat and has a variety of options and dining areas you won’t find at many other venues. The pub is a stone’s throw from both Dartmoor and the Cornish border and also offers a great place to stay, noted for being one of the best fishing hotels in the country.