Patrick's Pub Trawls: this month we visit The Drewe Arms in Broadhembury
PUBLISHED: 13:49 31 October 2016
In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs
The Drewe Arms, Broadhembury
I have always tried to remain unbiased whilst penning this column – this one may be the exception. Having lived in the beautiful village of Broadhembury for a number of years I was lucky enough to have the Drewe Arms as a key village amenity. This helped my wellbeing, possibly not so the other locals, who no doubt frowned on our youthful antics. Arm wrestling the landlord’s daughter on the carpet in front of a huge fireplace and a fully booked room of diners brought instant notoriety.
Now I’m over the hill - not in terms of age but having upped sticks to a neighbouring village - often the mind slips back to old familiar places that we know and love. With its thick cob walls this timeless local once had a far-reaching reputation as a destination fish restaurant famed for its Scandinavian vibe. Today it appears the pub has managed to buck the ‘gastro’ trend and successfully execute a U-turn in terms of its function. It is still a destination pub but the buzz now comes from the eclectic mix of locals aka ‘the drinking crowd’ that in turn provide the pull for the diners.
Taking over custody of this 16th century treasure are Katie and Dan with Katie’s mum suitably cast in a supporting yet all encompassing role - upkeep of the pretty garden is just one of her ongoing projects. Between the three of them new life has been breathed into the heart of one of the prettiest villages you could hope to find in the Blackdown Hills.
Feniton born and bred, Katie was first introduced to the Drewe at age seven. Fast forward to March 2011 and after four years managing a well-known Exeter hotel the chance to raise 16-month-old Harrison somewhere peaceful started to take shape.
With plenty of experience managing restaurants husband Dan would unwittingly become the resident chef. What followed can best be described as a hands-on DIY approach to reverting a restaurant back into a pub, room by room. This collective family effort is certainly paying dividends with each individual infectiously passionate about their respective roles.
The close-knit community has rallied behind the young couple and been integral to their continuing success. In fact, this is one of the pubs we often use as a barometer against which we can measure our own journey as a family-run enterprise. It was the very first account that mum managed to get Otter Bitter into all those years ago. Harrison, meanwhile, will be six in November, proving that time stands still for no-one.
Today there are five Devon cask ales on the bar, three skittles teams, quarterly beer festivals, a steady stream of cyclists needing rehydration and an enticing food offering. The business is open all day every day and the latest award above the door is CAMRA’s ‘Exeter and East Devon Summer Pub of the Year’. Certainly Katie and Dan have found that happy and often elusive equilibrium between drinkers and diners. There is also an enviable work/life balance here - they can literally hear son number two Max in the school playground from the beer garden.
After an alfresco lunch of beer battered hake and hand cut chips enjoyed during one of the last flushes of summer Dad, with his 70 years of wisdom, observed that you really can tell when people are doing things from the heart. Maybe parents do know best! The Drewe Arms, Broadhembury, Honiton, EX14 3NF. 01404 841267 drewearmsinn.co.uk
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