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Review: Hunters Inn, Parracombe, North Devon

PUBLISHED: 14:10 07 July 2014

John Raby's meal at the Hunters Inn

John Raby's meal at the Hunters Inn

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JOHN RABY and his daughter Sophie enjoy a meal at a quintessential English pub on the North Devon coast

John Raby's meal at the Hunters InnJohn Raby's meal at the Hunters Inn

Between the villages of Trentishoe and Martinhoe not far from the North Devon coast, you will find a quintessential English pub called The Hunter’s Inn. Encompassed by the lush, wooded slopes of the Heddon Valley, this lovely characterful pub enjoys a beautiful & idyllic setting.

This time, my youngest daughter and I were invited by Landlord David Orton and Head Chef Justin Dunn to participate in the ‘Venison 5 days 5 ways’ week. So on Friday 13th (not unlucky for us), we dutifully arrived for a wonderful, climactic Exmoor feast.

We were swiftly escorted to our table, situated next to impressive eight feet high bay windows that provide you with a commanding view of the neatly cut lawn and wooded garden beyond. This lovely, picturesque view was a fantastic, added bonus to what was going to be a great night.

After much consideration of the carefully, and thoughtfully constructed menu I chose the Marinated Crispy Chilli Beef served with a Mixed Salad to begin with. Sophie on the other handed opted for the venison carpaccio served with Watercress, Parmesan and Balsamic oil. Both of these dishes were really superb and tasted as good as they sounded.

John Raby's meal at the Hunters InnJohn Raby's meal at the Hunters Inn

Biting into the succulent strips of chilli beef, your mouth experiences an explosion of flavour accompanied by a pleasant sweet, heat. The leafy salad underneath was also coated with a delightful combo of sweet chilli and the signature, mustard based French dressing. Sophie and I couldn’t resist stealing some food from each other’s plates, and we were both in agreement about the quality and appeal of both of these dishes.

Sampling the Venison Carpaccio, I was similarly pleased. Seven lovely, tender slices of venison gracefully sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, with watercress on the side and a ramekin of Balsamic oil. It was hard to find fault with such a lovely, well presented dish that really did look the business. Surely this is what great cooking is all about.

The main dishes soon arrived after that. Being ‘Venison 5 days 5 ways’ week, I could hardly choose anything but the ‘Char Grilled Local Fillet of Venison served with Wild Mushrooms, Wilted Coz Lettuce, Minted New Potatoes and Creamy Peppercorn Sauce.’ Sophie on the other hand decided on the more uncomplicated, yet eminently inviting ‘Eight Ounce Hunters Inn Beef Burger with Bacon, Cheese, Chunky Chips & Mixed Salad.’

The Char Grilled Venison was succulent, juicy and simply bursting with flavour. The Wild Mushrooms (nine different varieties) that lay underneath, must surely rank as some of the strangest food I have ever eaten, but were nonetheless a great addition to my delicious, chunk of Exmoor Venison. The creamy, peppery sauce tastefully complimented the dish, as did the beautifully soft minted potatoes.

Five Fascinating Facts about The Hunters Inn

The Hunters Inn was originally a thatched farm cottage that became a meeting place for the local area.

The first time that beer was served may have been when the owner rewarded his workers at the end of harvest

The exact date it was originally built is somewhat unclear but it is thought that a mill once stood on the site and the first dwelling could pre-date the Domesday Book.

In 1895, the then thatched Hunters Inn was totally destroyed by fire, despite the postman’s best efforts to raise the alarm.

A new Swiss Chalet design Hunters Inn opened in 1906, inspired by nearby Lynton’s Victorian nickname of the ‘Little Switzerland of England’.

Sophie’s burger itself was homemade and satisfying. It would be no exaggeration to say that this burger, lovingly made in the Kitchen at The Hunter’s Inn, was a simple monument to juicy, scrumptious beefiness. Utterly delicious in every way, I could even go as far to say that it was the beefiest Beef burger I have ever tasted. And I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my life… The chunky chips, light and fluffy on the inside and brown and crispy on the outside, were of course the perfect match for the dish.

My final destination on this leg of my gastronomic journey was the colourful and creamy Trio of Lovington’s Ice Cream, sourced from across the border in neighbouring Somerset. Sat on a brandy snap basket, it was a real sweet treat that is so evocative of all that is good and great about Westcountry produce.

Sophie elected for the Lemon Tart served with Strawberries and Clotted Cream. Looking rather good on the plate, the taste and experience of the dish matched the appearance completely! Having lived in Devon for most of my life, I’m somewhat a sucker for clotted cream and the accompanying Wild Berry Compote made with Blackcurrant Cassis was just heavenly.

Both desserts were a perfect end to a really fabulous night. Both David and Justin can be proud of the food, service and ambience found here at The Hunters Inn. Why not pop in sometime soon and find out for yourself?

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