Those coming to Devon are spoilt for choice, with huge coastal skies, rugged moors, and pretty village to mosey in, tramp along, and explore. These natural beauties act as kind of natural pantry for Devonshire chefs, and menus often include foraged mushrooms, herbs, and flowers, fresh seafood and free-roaming meat. Here are Devon’s finest eateries, from Michelin stars, to cliff-top shacks.
The Treby Arms
Gastropub, Pub Grub
After being named MasterChef: The Professionals winner in 2012, Anton Piotrowsk returned to his country pub just outside of Plymouth to feed the south west with fresh local produce, filled with imaginative touches. Since then, he and The Treby have won a Michelin Star, and the cosy pub-come-restaurant serves up set lunch menus from £20, so every one can indulge in top-notch grub.
Right in the heart of Dartmoor, close to ancient Wistman’s Wood, is a luxurious and traditional pub and hotel set in the middle of Devon’s most dramatic scenery. The restaurant, which has been awarded a Two Rosette Award from AA, is to die for. The tasting menu, which serves up 7 different delicious courses, is absolutely worth the money. As is the matching wine to go with it.
High up in the hills in Axminster, in a secret location at the end of a tractor ride, is Hugh Fearnly Wittingstall’s River Cottage HQ. Here, the menu is seasonal depending on what is fresh from the garden that day, paired with wine from Castlewood Vineyard down the road. Here the ambiance is fun and communal – you eat along huge, beautifully presented tables. Guests are welcomed to River Cottage HQ via a warm yurt, where they are given an amuse bouche and bubbly, before being invited to wander the farm, meet the pigs, and glimpse into the kitchens.
At Riverford Field Kitchen, it’s all about fresh vegetables perfectly chosen, seasoned and paired with other complimentary dishes. Meat and fish are not the main event here, but are mere add-ons. For example, the star of the show is an antipasti of roasted asparagus smeared with goats cheese, rather than the usual selection of cured,meats. Chef Jane Baxter makes food so good it hushes the crowded restaurant.
Do not be put off by the Oyster Shack’s gaudy decor in Bigbury, the food here is tasty, refined, and oh-so fresh. In summer, you can dine outside under a shaded tarpaulin, order oysters from the shucking shed, and sip on ice-cold wine served up in a bright green sand bucket. The crab soup – meaty, thick, and well-spiced -, comes highly recommended.
Holding not one, but two Michelin Stars, Gidleigh Park’s menu is the perfect coming-together of classical cooking mixed with innovation, in a style that’s modern European yet proudly Devon. Of course, top local produce is always used, and is often supplemented by the well-maintained on site kitchen garden. Gidleigh Park also has one of the most extensive wine lists in the country, with the cellar housing over 1,300 different wines.
Only open in summer, The Vineyard Cafe at Sharpham Wine and Cheese is a pretty place to sit and sip and eat and talk. Sit beneath trailing greens under a pagoda, dip crusty bread into creamy moules frites, and then wander the grounds and through the vines to work off your lunch. The views here are pure English countryside, the wine is award-winning, and the food simple but perfect.
Any foodie worth their salt needs to visit The Elephant for a magical dining experience. The menu is an ever-changing masterpiece which adapts to the seasons, but is always centred around local and sustainable ingredients. The restaurant also has its own dedicated farm in South Devon, where chickens, pigs, and lambs are reared, and heritage vegetables grown. The Room, which is only open between April and October, exclusively serves the tasting menu, with optional wine pairings but the more informal Brasserie is open all year round, and welcomes children too.
Overlooking the River Tamar from high, this mid-Victorian house’s restaurant has been awarded the Top AA Rosette Dining. Not only is this a beautiful place to stay but the house tasting menu is sublime, with imaginative and classic dishes combining in wonderful ways. Have afternoon tea in the sunshine, or splash out on the a la carte menu at night. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be a delight.
With cosy nooks, sofas to sink in to, a roaring fire and a busy and sunny beer garden, The Rose and Crown in the South Hams is a firm favourite among locals for a relaxed lunch or special occasion dinner. Although the decor is rich and opulent, the main event here is definitely the food, with classic pub-grub fusing with contemporary cuisine made using the freshest and finest local ingredients.
For those who would prefer a more casual affair with their Michelin star food, look no further than The Mason’s Arms on the edge of Exmoor. This 13th century thatched inn not only serves up great grub, but has a friendly bar where you can order fine cider, local ales and the best champagne around. The Mason’s is 100% fine dining, but comes with hearty portions, perfect to revive you after a long day exploring the moors.
The Five Bells is a postcard perfect English pub, with stepping stones leading you to a perfect beer garden, before heading inside to the seemingly ancient pub. The kitchen is run by Gidleigh Park’s previous chef, Ian Webber, who has turned his fine dining skills to comfort food, and manages to bring a great depth of flavour to the institution.