Not being a motorway means the road also lacks service stations offering a myriad of dining and shopping options. That’s probably a good thing – aside from the inflated prices, there’s something about an identikit service station that means if you’ve taken a nap in the back of the car and woken up when it’s stopped, you wouldn’t actually know if you were on the M25, or M4, or anywhere in the UK. On the other hand, if you have a long journey they do mean you can stop somewhere you know you will have a choice of food (even if the choice is generally a McDonald’s, a M&S sandwich or a Costa Coffee), clean toilets and somewhere to browse compilation CDs. The A303 never seemed to offer more than a Little Chef in my hazy recollections (feel free to correct me if you know better!).
The last few times I’ve driven to see my friend Jane however, I’ve spotted a restaurant on the side of the A303, whose see-it-for-miles sign proudly declares it as an America style diner – forget Route 66, this is the Route 303 Diner. The last time I travelled to Devon it was a five-hour journey from London so we decided it might be nice to break up the trip by stopping for lunch. I had googled the locations of Little Chef along the way, forgetting about Route 303, until we came upon it and decided to pull in to the car park.

It was like walking into the most OTT American diner I've ever seen (and I've been in a few). There were huge signs everywhere, but rather than focus on one state, or even places along Route 66, there were icons from several other states including New York. That was a shame as it was as if they had tried to copy the Route 66 diner style but gone too far.

The menu was huge, as you might expect from this kind of place. My boyfriend had a burger and a milkshake, as you might expect from him if you are a regular reader of my restaurant reviews. I didn't want a heavy meal as we were going to be in the car for a while longer, but I didn't want a salad or bagel or wrap, so I decided to combine two starters of chicken strips with a honey and mustard sauce and loaded potato skins with bacon and cheese. They were really good, if a little heavy on the cheese. My boyfriend's only complaint was that if this was a real American diner, our drinks refills would have been free!

This is a fun place to stop for lunch and somewhere I think kids would actually look forward to on a long journey. It was good for us to have somewhere a bit different to normal service station fare as well, but my only piece of advice to the restaurant would be to tone down the Americana kitsch just  a notch!