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Restaurant review: The Bear & Blacksmith, Devon

Published on February 26, 2020
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‘Unlike anything you might have experienced in a British pub,’ says Rosanna Rothery of her plot-to-plate dinner at The Bear & Blacksmith

The Bear & Blacksmith

If modern food production (with its air miles, welfare concerns, pesticides and packaging) fills you with such despair that you hanker after something sustainable, honest and wholesome, then dinner at The Bear & Blacksmith will ignite hope.

With so many of us trying to reconnect to “real food” (tending allotments, shopping at farmers’ markets and eating as sustainably as possible) you’d think that the hospitality industry would be taking note but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Someone who is taking the authentic plot-to-plate ethos on board, however, is The Bear & Blacksmith chef patron Malcolm Church. To say that he’s a man with one foot in the farm and the other in the kitchen is something of an understatement.

VISIT for dinner crafted from ingredients with the most amazing provenance – and unlike anything you might have experienced in a British pub.

Free-range chickens, geese, ducks and pigs are reared by landlady Claire on the pub’s smallholding, while the lamb is bred by Malcolm on his farm. Even the grass-fed Dexter beef (hung for a minimum of 30 days) comes from Rob and Kelly Barons in nearby Slapton before being cut in The Bear & Blacksmith’s own butchery.

The bounty of accompanying veg is also homegrown, harvested from Malcolm and Claire’s own garden (or picked from Martin Berryman’s nearby fields, usually within the hour).

The Bear & Blacksmith team also cure bacon, make sausages and smoke own-reared produce so Malcolm often wears his farmer, butcher and chef hats all on the same day.

DON’T VISIT for an olde worlde pub experience. An unusual mash-up of ancient and contemporary results in the likes of funky Edison lighting swaying from traditional beams.

WE LIKED the 100 per cent grass-fed lamb cooked three ways (cutlet, leg steak and breast). When meat is as flavoursome and tender as this it only needs simple accompaniments such as fondant potatoes, butternut squash puree, chard and rich jus to evoke a veritable lust.

It’s obvious that Malcolm likes to craft delicate pastry as much as he likes to get his hands in the soil, and one of his masterpieces is a delicious toffee apple tart topped with crunchy almond crumb, served with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

It’s impossible not to be inspired by the profound respect for ingredients demonstrated at this Devon pub. But be warned: the ultra fresh, flavoursome produce might just leave you vowing to dig up your lawn and plant acres of chard and a massive pumpkin patch.

What we ate (dinner)

Starter Line-caught Salcombe bass ceviche with chilli, lime, coriander dip

Main Salcombe gilt-head bream, Cornish mussels, new potatoes, shredded cabbage, butter emulsion

Pud Chocolate parfait, marinated oranges, honeycomb shards, hazelnut ice cream

3 courses from £27


As featured in food Magazine’s March 2020 issue. 

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