PUB REVIEW: The Seven Stars, Dartmouth
PUBLISHED: 14:29 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 13 November 2019
In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery visits The Seven Stars pub in Dartmouth
As the seasonal tide of tourists starts to ebb and Devon again returns to the hands of its dwellers, we can now better enjoy some of our pub treasures in a slightly less frantic atmosphere.
The 'quieter' months that lie ahead, when establishments are no longer packed to the gunnels, are in my opinion, the best time to visit because you'll have the opportunity to really enjoy the depth of what they can offer.
For this review we meet a kindred spirit whose family has been running pubs - first in Gloucester and most recently in Devon - for the last 35 years. The Quality Inns group was established by Alison and Easton Hogben in 1985, with their four children now confidently taking over the reins.
Still subscribing to old-fashioned values, as a team they're continuing to expand the family footprint down here with a new South Hams outpost earmarked to open next year.
Dartmouth itself breathes history and is a special place where life unquestionably revolves around the water. The Seven Stars is the oldest pub in town and also has the only underground cellar - our drays love a good challenge!
Built on land reclaimed from the River Dart, it is as old as the adjacent St Saviour's Church where thirsty priests once passed through the tunnels underneath. It is also the sister pub to The Floating Bridge a few minutes walk away.
Gloucester born and bred, Abbie at the age of 29 is a wise head on young shoulders and a breath of fresh air in an industry where a humble personality and hands-on approach can take you far.
Having run her first pub at the age of 18, she is a lady driven by an engrained family work ethic and a desire to provide genuine hospitality.
Now able to call Dartmouth home, she has an obvious eye for detail, a natural instinct for what people want, and a belief that the profession you choose should be the main passion in your life.
The pub had previously been boarded up for three years. Following an extensive refurb, with its low ceilings, splash of history on the walls and sense of calm, it is now a welcome refuge from the bustle of Dartmouth life in high season or the cold of a hard Devon winter.
Drinkers congregate at one end whilst diners happily occupy the other. Upstairs is a light-filled dining room with huge windows perfect for family occasions.
They really do like to feed people here…think good burgers, Brixham-caught fish and chips, rump or rib eye steaks and a number of other pub classics.
A mixed tapas board with smoked salmon, tiger prawns, hot chorizo, delicious whitebait and spicy potatoes got things underway. After that, a generously portioned creamy fish pie with a punchy Cheddar kick and a bowl of South Devon mussels massively delivered. As 'working lunches' go, this was right up there.
The parallels between my family and Abbie's are strong - organic growth, I think, is the reason behind our collective longevity, but there's also that initial intuition of our parents who had a craving to do things differently.
Just like at the brewery, they've put plans in place here to keep building a sustainable future and Abbie's desire to develop the skill-set of the loyal staff around her really shines through. I'll definitely raise a glass of Tarka to that.
Otter Amber, Otter Brewery
Ferryman, Exeter Brewery
Seahorse, Salcombe Brewery
Jail Ale, Dartmoor Brewery
Tarka Pure, Otter Brewery
The Seven Stars, Dartmouth, TQ6 9QR
Tel: 01803 839635