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  • Lisa

Homemade Heaven at the New Inn, Sampford Courtenay

We always like to try out pubs and restaurants that we add to our website, so we were delighted that when Malcolm and Karen joined our website recently they kindly invited to us come and sample their menu.

Malcolm is the Head Chef and brings vast experience of fine dining to the New Inn having in the past been the first English restaurant to be included in the Michelin Guide in 1981. He is ably assisted in the kitchen by Matthew Buscombe who has worked with John Burton Race at the New Angel, Dartmouth and Toby Mosedale hailing from Le Gavroche restaurant and Gidleigh Park. With credentials like this we were very much looking forward to the evening.

The New Inn restaurant and bar is a traditional Devon thatched country pub situated on the edge of Dartmoor. Upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised by a number of points: a) the large flat car park to the rear of the pub that even had accessible car parking spaces; b) the accessible entrance path to the pub and c) the size of the pub garden which is very large. There is a lot to be said for good kerbside appeal and even before entering the pub and restaurant we were getting a ‘good feeling’ that these were publicans that cared about their pub and customer experience.

This theme continued once we entered the bar, we were warmly greeted by Karen and shown to our table and our drinks order was taken. We had arrived at about 7pm on a Wednesday evening and the place was already fully booked – a very good sign, and point of note, if you want to eat here you will need to make a booking!

The interior of the pub and restaurant is everything you would expect from a traditional country pub, large log fires, local ales and a relaxed ambience full of style, comfort and charm.

With our drinks ordered we perused the menu. What a selection to choose from and very reasonably priced. Starters ranged from £4.75 through to £7.50, mains from £10.99 to £16.99 and desserts were all £5.99. There were also at least four vegetarian options on the menu too, and I did notice that the table next to us also had a separate Vegan menu.

I wasn’t going to order a starter as I had already spied the dessert board and wanted to make sure I had room left to try one of the many homemade desserts, however upon finding that the soup of the day was my favourite – Broccoli and Stilton I couldn’t resist!! Julian choose the pan cooked south coast scallops cooked smoked bacon, garlic butter finished with cream.

The attentive service was very prompt and it was not long before our starters came out. We weren’t disappointed.

The bread accompanying the soup you could tell was freshly made that day and was delightfully light and still warm. The butter was soft – one of my pet hates is not being able to spread rock hard butter on to bread! The soup was very tasty and a great texture. It didn’t hang around too long and I did contemplate licking the bowl, but didn’t think that was the done thing!

Julian’s scallops were served in a small cast iron saucepan and Julian confirmed they tasted as good as they looked with a sauce ‘to die for!’.

Now on to the main course. I ‘finally’ decided upon the Roast Breast of Creedy Duck with spiced plums, Red Currant & Red Wine sauce, sauté potatoes , vegetables and parsnip crisps. It was a tough decision as I also was very tempted with the Wok cooked Chinese shredded duck in a Black Bean sauce with Egg noodles, stir-fry of crisp vegetables and prawn crackers, but the parsnip crisps on the roast duck were the deciding factor!

When the main arrived it was a very healthy portion size and looked mouth-watering. The skin on the duck was lovely and crispy and the sauce complemented the meat exquisitely. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle and the veg still on the al dente side – just perfick! And I was glad I choose the dish with the parsnips crisps – they were just yummy, nice and crispy and not greasy at all, in fact I would have probably been happy with a bowl of those! The only thing I would say, and this is a complete personal preference, I would have preferred the duck to have been served off the bone.

Julian plumped for ‘The famous New Inn Classic Steak & Kidney steamed suet pudding with choice of mash, sauté or fries with vegetables. One of Julian’s favourites, so would this live up to expectations? Well, of course it did, what else would you expect from quality chefs like this and the best local meat to choose from!

Whilst we were eating our mains the lady on the table next to us ordered the wok duck – I have made a mental note that next time I visit I am going to order that – it did look good!

We choose a nice glass of Euca Hill Shiraz to go with our main meals. Again the New Inn has a very good wine list and all again reasonably priced. The Euca Hill was £13.40 per bottle or could be bought by the glass.

I always manage to fall foul of the old adage ‘eyes bigger than belly’. When it came around to ordering deserts although our mouths were watering with the great range of homemade puddings to choose from, we both felt we would be defeated if we ordered one each. So we decided to share a Baked Ginger cheesecake with warm whisky sauce and vanilla ice cream.

When the dessert was served it came out on two separate plates, we said we ordered one to share and they said yes this was one but they had split it into two portions for us – a really nice touch I thought.

We were delighted when Malcom the owner and Head Chef joined us for a chat over coffee. He explained that he and his wife Karen had taken over the pub 5 years ago and his ethos is very much about showcasing local produce with his fine array of homemade meals. You know you definitely won’t be getting any ‘boil in a bag’ meals here. The menus change regularly and there is always a wide variety of local seafood to choose from too.

Whilst chatting to Malcolm a customer came over to specifically say thank you for the service he had received from one of the waitresses – Malcolm couldn’t have planned this better and he assured me he hadn’t paid him (and I believe him, as there was nothing to fault with the hospitality on offer at the New Inn).

The New Inn as mentioned earlier has a lovely beer garden and offers all day dining from Tuesday to Sunday as they have an afternoon and garden menu too.

The pub is dog-friendly and the large beer garden and fields are ideal for exercising your four-legged friend whilst you sit and enjoy a pint of the local brew.

They hold regular themed nights with the next one being held on the 4th October which is going to be a Thai themed night.

The Sunday Roast menu looked very appealing with a choice of 3 roasts served every week and we were pleased to hear that they serve Sunday roast all day! Julian and I always prefer to have our Sunday roast in the evening but struggle to find pubs and restaurants that serve a roast all day – unless of course you want to go to a Toby Carvery! The New Inn has definitely gone down on our ‘must visit’ list again! See you soon Malcolm and Karen for Sunday roast!

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