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
A ten minute drive through quiet country roads from Devon’s county capital (and not much further in the same direction until you hit Dartmoor), The Lamb at Longdown is a semi-rural find in which to delight in smart casual dining – without any airs or graces.
Since taking over the pub in January this year, head chef and director Dolton Lodge (formerly of The Galley in Topsham) has tastefully merged cosmopolitan restaurant culture with his new countryside setting to create a space which seamlessly shifts from quick lunch spot to fancy dinner destination.
VISIT for clever yet pleasingly uncomplicated dishes.
While seasonal specials such as pressed ham hock terrine may be adorned with more accessories than your dining companion (a dash of mustard seed, a Crayola-box of colourful pickled veggies and a side of feather-light ale toast), the vibe remains refreshingly relaxed.
The prices reflect the casual concept too: a generous portion of gilt head bream garnished with Brixham crab and confit tomato arancini might fetch £26 in the city, but here it’s a steal at £18.
DON’T VISIT expecting just the usual pub fodder. Sure, the Exmouth mussels cooked in Devon Mist cider and the short-rib beef burger with Quicke’s cheese on the Pub Favourites section of the menu are classic specimens, but missing out on Dolton’s carefully composed mains would be a serious error.
WE LIKED the thoroughly local ethos driving every dish. Full marks for the Exmoor lamb, scallops landed in Brixham and stonking selection of South West cheeses. And bonus points for Exeter Ale-infused soda bread, homemade elderflower cordial and Exe Coffee Roasters espresso.
INSIDER’S TIP Make a return visit in winter when the wood burner makes The Lamb a snug spot for supper.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Pressed ham hock terrine, mustard, pickled vegetables and ale toast
Main Pan seared bream fillet, Brixham crab, confit fennel, basil pesto and confit tomato arancini
Pud Sticky toffee pudding and clotted cream
3 courses from £25.50
The cult of being idle was extolled for bringing 'happiness and joy'. Kinda fitting for an evening stuffing your face at relaxed dining pub The Lazy Toad