Review: The Poltimore Inn
PUBLISHED: 15:08 23 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:08 23 May 2016
Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery pays a visit to the Poltimore Inn at North Molton
Anyone lucky enough to frequent the weekend fortress that is Sandy Park can’t help but notice their slightly unusual ‘bespoke’ half-time entertainment. As the Benny Hill theme tune starts to reverberate around the stadium our very own ‘Derek the Otter’ challenges a bevy of Chiefs supporters to not only give chase, then depending on a successful take down, kick between the posts for a crowd-rousing conversion and a slab of beer.
Imagine our delight then as we arrived at The Poltimore Inn to find a larger-than-life kindred rugby spirit stood proudly behind the pumps. Alan Boddington is an ex-professional Harlequins player who is now applying that all-important team spirit to running a successful rural pub. His passion and energy have transformed a previously boarded up business into somewhere that now effortlessly complements and enhances the local community.
Just across from the Grade II listed Square the pub has a humble, almost deceptive, exterior. Once inside it shows you just what can be achieved with a little vision and the right people believing in you.
It has certainly been a remarkable journey to date. Perhaps that ingenuity and tenacity is the result of a colourful career that began with making props for flagship BBC shows like The Two Ronnies (…but, strangely, also a working mountain Howitzer!) Next up, installing road signs along the arterial link road and forming an engineering company that still supplies the likes of Rolls Royce and Nissan today.
Good pubs are versatile and by that I mean they can appeal to a wide catchment of different people. Importantly they still retain a quality and charm in all that they do regardless of the occasion. As homemade bread, burgers and pulled pork arrive around us on ash platters, if felt like the spacious dining room was the Exmoor version of being on the side of a cliff – huge panoramic windows framing a mesmerising portrait of the surrounding countryside.
This cavernous room can cleverly also house two skittle alleys accommodating six local teams. Depending on the evening North Molton’s footballers will stop in for a pint, as might the cricketers. During this year’s Six Nations tournament there was a special rugby-themed menu including ‘Olimpico Line-out Calzone’ and ‘Lansdowne Legend Irish Scrum-tious Stew’. I’m sure that not even Alan could have predicted such a conclusive English Grand Slam victory was on the cards!
The beer garden below us doubles as a miniature sculpture exhibition – a local ex-teacher is clearly keeping both brain and body supple. After 15 minutes of listening intently to Alan it’s clear that here is a man most content when there is some sort of project on the go. You might even be lucky enough to see the pub’s very own smoker in action. Constructed from a salvaged submarine compressed air cylinder and an Austin A2 car axle this is a fine DIY effort somewhere between Stephenson’s Rocket and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. ‘Low and slow’ is the motto and one that undoubtedly gives chefs Tom and Linda a certain point of difference. Tomatoes, fish, cheese and Ruby Red brisket – all get the star treatment and take on a new flavour profile thanks to the beech, ash or hickory.
There’s a ‘can do’ approach at work here and a maturity and confidence in what the team collectively know they can achieve. This is definitely a pub on a journey and a local landmark enjoying a new lease of life.
Real Ale: Otter Ale, Otter Brewery; Tribute Ale, St Austell Brewery; Exmoor Ale, Exmoor Ales
Contact details: The Poltimore Inn, East Street, North Molton, EX36 3HR.
Tel: 01598 740338