The Rock Inn, Haytor Vale

The Rock Inn, with its huge fireplaces, flop-down-with-a-sigh sofas and excellent cooking, is a delightful antidote to feeling fraught and frazzled, discovers Rosanna Rothery

Little wonder people travel miles to stay and eat at The Rock Inn on Dartmoor: Christopher and Susan Graves seem to have stopped time and distilled the essence of the moor at their traditional dining pub.

It’s nigh on impossible to feel fraught or frazzled when you’re cocooned inside a snug inn, sipping Jail Ale (and eagerly anticipating the good cooking coming your way) while a wintry gale rages outside.

VISIT for a homage to moorland life. After an afternoon spent climbing bracken-covered peaks – the famous landmark of Haytor is a 25-minute walk from the front door – it’s extremely gratifying to tuck in to a full-on feast which reflects the rugged landscape. Roasted pigeon breast, Devon lamb rump and Dartmoor ribeye steak are all deliciously appropriate after a windswept walk in the wilds.

This hidden-away hostelry has joined the gastroascension of South West pubs offering quality fine dining and, with a solid reputation under head chef Josh Porter, draws foodies from across the region.

DON’T VISIT for egg and chips. Dishes such as peppered pork fillet with black pudding, kale, fondant potato and red wine jus are far more adventurous propositions. Crème brûlée, meanwhile, turns into a zingy triumph when spiced with ginger and served with the zesty accomplices of lime curd and lemongrass ice cream.

WE LIKED the owners’ insistence on being steadfastly traditional. Hardwearing red carpets, velvet-backed chairs and horse brasses in the bar mean you could be visiting at any time during the last century. Bedrooms featuring beams and antiques are equally timeless.

A resistance to gutting, glamourising or going down the route of the ubiquitous modern-rustic makeover is refreshing in a got-to-keep-up world.

Stay over (rooms feature four-poster beds and balconies) and fortify yourself with a hearty cooked breakfast before exploring dramatic countryside which is likely to change from bleak and windswept to bright and crisp in the flick of a Dartmoor pony’s tail.

What we ate (dinner)

Starter Roasted pigeon breast, pearl barley, jerusalem artichoke, pigeon jus

Main Panfried hake fillet, roasted cauliflower, samphire, cauliflower and yeast puree

Pud Chocolate mousse, feuilletine praline cream, roasted hazelnuts, chocolate crumb

 

3 courses from £27.85

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