Artful plating, wine-matched dessert menus and in-room bathtub centrepieces – there’s a new league of country inns blurring the boundary between boozer and bistro, and The Lamb Inn at Sandford is the latest recruit to the ranks, discovers Kathryn Lewis
The first of 30 venues visited on the search for his very own inn, this charming 16th century pub was almost the one that got away – until Nick Silk finally secured The Lamb in December 2017. It is rather elusive though, and certainly not well known to many travellers of Devon’s A377 who speed past this genuine foodie gem, just a couple of miles away in the village of Sandford.
VISIT for an utterly greedy rural retreat. The Lamb’s location (five minutes from Crediton, 20 from Exeter), eight en suite bedrooms (including a spacious garden suite) and friendly vibe (nothing is too much trouble) make it a delicious base from which to explore mid-Devon. Head chef Andy Bennett curates a daily menu of pub-classics-meets-fine-dining delights and sees to it that intrepid day-trippers get an incredible feed each evening. Think generous hunk of butter-soft pork belly bathed in a cider-spiked fricassee of smoky pancetta, with hearty savoy cabbage and a curl of crackling – plus an unnecessary but oh-soseductive pork bonbon– and you get the idea.
DON’T VISIT if the words ‘unsuitable for HGVs’ incite a cold sweat and racing heart. Burrowed within an evernarrowing network of country roads, this rural destination requires competent reversing skills. However, the log burner, Crediton Coffee Company brews and healthy stock of local gins are your reward on arrival at the inn.
WE LIKED the extra mile (or not) Nick and Andy go to source as locally as possible. The menu name-drops a who’s who of top Devon producers such as Creedy Carver duck, Sandford Orchards cider and Salcombe Dairy ice cream. And if you visit on skittles night (Monday, FYI), you’ll probably bump into the pub’s butcher who rears all of the beef, pork and lamb a few fields over.
INSIDER’S TIP Got a glut of garden-grown veggies? Join The Lamb’s barter club and swap ’em for a pint.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Cured salmon, torched mackerel, celeriac remoulade, pickled ginger, herb aioli
Main Pork belly with pancetta fricassee, bonbon, crackling, savoy, cider jus and new potatoes
Pud Banoffee pie, white chocolate shard, honeycomb
3 courses from £26 B&B from £75
Could this recently revived boozer be Devon’s new destination dining pub? All the signs are pointing west from Exeter towards Longdown’s 17th century inn, says Kathryn Lewis