Patrick's pub trawls: The Kings Arms, Otterton
PUBLISHED: 12:03 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:03 29 March 2016
Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs.
Years ago when I used to go out selling Dad’s beers I remember going to a pub that seemed quite big for the pretty East Devon village of Otterton. Still pretty with its long lines of thatched roofs and what must be cob and brick dwellings, this village is proud to boast a pub that has grown into its setting quite literally.
I remember stepping through the front door armed with pencil and price list to be confronted by this massive bar that seemed to span the entire building. The bar appeared daunting and the light was traditionally low and unwelcoming. I failed to charm the landlord at the time and was given my marching orders. Mum went in a few months later, buttered up the right person and had Otter Ale installed without fuss - she’s such a pro and I didn’t hear the end of it!
Now, some 15 years later, The Kings Arms in Otterton is a different proposition. Light seems to infuse every corner, a splash of Farrow and Ball, a log burner kicking out warmth - all add to what is now the most welcoming of village pubs; an unbelievable transformation from the old days. The bar seems half the length it used to be and has cleverly been set into the centre of the building which naturally gives customers an instant warm welcome on arrival. The layout of a pub these days is so important to get right as first impressions to a customer so often can make or break a visit.
Experienced Elaine and Barry are at the helm - I reckon (secretly) Elaine calls the shots and is clearly wedded to this establishment. She took me to see a couple of their 15 well appointed ‘boutique’ guest rooms, I was sorely tempted to turn lunch into an afternoon and stay over! Really nicely done and, I dare say, rammed in the summer with Ladram Bay being a stone’s throw from the village.
Elaine is very proud of the Kings and it goes through to the heart of everything she does. The entire family seem to be on hand to help her out, which is really nice to see as they clearly all share the same quality values.
Generally, I actually think the overall quality of landlords is getting better these days, but nothing beats a family ‘set up’ to add to the passion of a well-run pub.
Mum was my guest on the chilly and crisp winter’s day at The Kings Arms (seemed fitting as she reminded me who opened up this long standing ‘Otter account’ - more than once!). We sat in the ‘soft’ area, deep in the old leather sofas, warmed by a double fronted log burner set in an open fireplace.
We ordered sausages and mash and a ploughman’s from the pub menu which, yet again, was so pleasing because it simply offered pub grub - but done very well. Elaine and Barry have hired an Army chef to command the troop in the kitchen. He’s definitely brought his training with him and as such his fare is fresh and appetising. Greendale Farm Shop is the source of his larder so fish will be from Exmouth’s daily catch and the meat within mooing distance.
In short, this lovely pub serves the village, holidaymakers, coastal walkers and anyone else who fancies a really good pie and pint. My kind of pub, my kind of home (sorry darling!).
Real ale: Otter Bitter, Otter Brewery; Tribute, St Austell Brewery; Stormstay, Hanlons Brewery
Contact details: The Kings Arms, Fore Street, Otterton, Devon. EX9 7HB.
Tel: 01395 568416