Thursday 26 March 2015

Restaurant Review: Drake Manor Inn, Buckland Monachorum, Devon

Several years ago one of my closest friends moved to a tiny village in Devon - and I mean tiny. it doesn't have a single shop, but what it does have is a pub.

The Drake Manor Inn is the centre of the community; my friend worked there for a while and even got to know her husband there. 'The pub' as everyone calls it (it almost doesn't need a name) hosts the village New Year's Eve party, serves as the venue for community meetings (like the local cider makers club) , sells pints of milk as there is nowhere else nearby to get one if you've run out and even offers accommodation ( one room above the pub).

An English folk singer who I won't name as I don't think he'd appreciate it grew up there and his parents still live there, and he has been known to give impromptu performances in the pub.

I'd been to the pub a few times when visiting my friend and remembered the very low ceilings and the outdoor toilet (men's - thankfully the ladies is inside) but had never eaten there. This time I was visiting my friend and her new baby during the day so said I would treat us to lunch and she suggested the pub. I later found out that was the fourth time that week she had eaten lunch there!

I was impressed by the breadth of the menu and the sound of dishes like chicken with a spice rub; not as run of the mill as I had expected. In fact the pub prides itself on its food. I was going to have a baguette or the plough mans until my friend recommended the vegetarian lasagne - butternut squash, spinach and goats cheese. It came in a round dish piping hot from the oven on a plate with salad and garlic bread. The lasagne - homemade of course - was delicious. My friend had the same thing while my boyfriend, the world's most un adventurous eater, had a cheese burger. He had been expecting something snack sized as it was under the 'pub bites' section of the menu and only cost about £6 or £7, whereas the main meals part of the menu had a more expensive pulled pork burger. But his meal was huge!

The meal for three plus soft drinks came to £32- excellent value for money as we weren't even hungry by dinner time (though my mum, who we then went on to visit, cooked us dinner anyway).

If you remember to duck when you stand up, and can find somewhere to park, this is a great place to stop for lunch or go for a drink - it's the sort of place where everyone knows everyone else, but rather than strangers being eyed with suspicion, they are greeted, asked where they are from and drawn into the conversation. And you may be surprised at who you end up talking to - what were the chances that the man at the bar (who my friend knew as Geoff from down the road) was the now-retired West Country correspondent for - my former employer, the Daily Telegraph?

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