Chilled chocolatey stout on tap, old school authenticity and utterly stonking food in the countryside: paradise found, decides Jo Rees
Call off the search, we’ve found that elusive ideal rural inn with wood burner, beautiful beers on tap and utterly scrumptious yet hearty fine food.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those faux finds: no interior designer has artfully shabby chic-ed any furniture or laid tasteful flooring; Molton Brown handwash in the bathrooms there is not. Instead, picture a proper pub carpet, ancient wooden settles that are a bit narrow for contemporary bottoms and the kind of bar you can prop up while talking sheep dip with local farmers.
VISIT for the food. Man, it’s good. With creds that include Trencherman’s Best Dining Pub 2019, that may not be surprising, but it’s unusual to be fed so well with so few fripperies.
Unctuous venison in a rich umami gravy encased in the softest suet pudding, served with no-holds-barred buttery mash and topped with a fried onion ring puts two fingers up at foams and sauce smears – and is just what the soul longs for in this setting.
Owners Ellis and Amie have made a point of keeping it real, but there’s no hiding that the “scampi” is luscious monkfish tail in panko breadcrumbs, served with lick-the-plate-clean red lentil dahl and curry sauce. Or that the pork medallions are nothing like the 1970s fave they reference, being a smart interpretation which includes brioche toast and shards of crackling. They’re having a laugh really, but the joke’s on everyone who’s not eating this stonking food.
DON’T VISIT for dinner when you’ve already had a big lunch. Or, if you do, don’t make the mistake of stuffing yourself with the bouncy homemade focaccia with oil and balsamic while still aiming to conquer three courses.
WE LIKED the fact that well-fed diners can stay over in a couple of newly decorated bedrooms which, given the Pyne Arms’ very rural location, extensive local gin list and chilled and chocolatey Mena Dhu Cornish stout on tap, is a no-brainer.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Pork medallions, hog’s pudding, brioche toast, apple sauce, crackling
Main Duck breast, bacon and potato terrine, red cabbage, duck and hoisin croquette
Pud Chocolate mousse
3 courses from £26
As featured in food Magazine’s July and August 2019 issue.
Abi Manning left the wellies at home as she hit Exmoor's The Coach House by Michael Caines for a feast of fine dining