Where would you head for contemporary comfort food in a hip environment? The unassuming south Devon village of Stoke Fleming might not be the first place that springs to mind but be prepared to be enlightened, says Rosanna Rothery
Ditch all expectations of horsebrass-style country dining: funky lighting and timber interiors lend a rustic cool vibe to all kinds of convivial get-togethers at this village eatery.
The food’s pretty surprising too, and in the below-stairs kitchen chef Richard Ashworth lets robust flavours sing in dishes which, while having homely qualities, amount to something a whole lot more exciting than the average homespun supper.
VISIT for hearty classics fashioned from produce sourced – wherever possible – from within a seven-mile radius (geddit?) of the restaurant.
With the mere graze of a fork, unctuous dishes like slow-roasted beef cheek with Doom Bar ale and black treacle fall to tender pieces, while accompanying fluffy horseradish mash and crispy onions more than keep up.
The earthy feasting extends to vegetarians and vegans, who get to choose from a plant-based menu which revolves around the local crop. And, as you might hope from a restaurant so close to the sea, plenty of dishes capitalise on the local fishermen’s successes.
While the larder is strictly south Devon, there’s an almost Scandi minimalist feel to the high-ceilinged, Edison bulb-lit surroundings. It’s cosily atmospheric in winter while offering sea views and a terrace for the sunny season.
DON’T VISIT if you want to guarantee a quiet, romantic tête-à-tête in a cosy alcove. On the night we visited, a large, lively and loquacious birthday gathering kept the open-plan joint buzzing.
WE LIKED the sinfully good desserts – just make sure you wear your slackest slacks if you’re indulging. The main challenge is to put away (in one sitting) the massive chilled chocolate fondant lavished with salted caramel topping. We only managed half, so a few more “training sessions” are obviously required …
INSIDER’S TIP Arrive early to dip into the local tipples list in the lounge bar.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Twice-baked Devon rarebit soufflé with tomato, fennel and balsamic relish
Main Pan-fried fillet of john dory, tempura tenderstem broccoli, sauté potato and samphire pesto
Pud Guinness and treacle sponge, Guinness ice cream
3 courses from £24.85
As featured in food Magazine’s April 2019 issue.
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