Looking to escape the city, Emma Cullen heads down to Devon to for some fresh country air and fine food at The Anchor Inn…
The sky above us is stormy and flitting between dark bursts of rain and dazzling sunshine – typical April weather. But it’s the perfect backdrop to a drive through the Devon countryside. As we wind down the serene, hedge framed country lanes of Devon, we glimpse rolling hills and feel like we are miles from anywhere, until we happen upon a little row of cottages. Church bells are chiming as we enter the pretty village of Ugborough, not far from Ivybridge, and they seem herald our arrival at The Anchor Inn.
Sarah and Daz are the couple at the heart of this country inn, having recently returned from Australia and taken charge of The Anchor, bringing with them their passion for great Devon produce and combining that with some serious culinary skills.
The first thing we noticed was how peaceful it was. From the moment we stepped through the door we were made to feel right at home. It’s the little things that really make you feel at ease here. The bar is quiet and gentle, decorated tastefully and featuring wooden beams and furniture, book-lined nooks and the gentle glow of the fire. But it’s clear that there is always something to do. The village may seem sleepy, but there is plenty going on, as we could see from the board dotted with upcoming events; in the bar there’s a basket of board games, and we could see from the chalkboards that there were weekly quiz nights. It’s an art to find the balance between cosy and quiet, yet active and entertaining, and The Anchor Inn already clearly seems to have this down to a tee.
Nothing is rushed. In fact, we were pondering the menu – it is that good, that making a decision is difficult – but were allowed to do so at a leisurely pace. The starters really had us stumped. Should we start with fresh, homemade scallop ravioli with clams and mussels in a white wine sauce and samphire, or perhaps the delicious looking duck parfait with truffle butter and brioche that we saw delivered to a couple next to us? We instead plumped for a dish of local, fresh salt and pepper cuttlefish with tomato, chilli and red pepper salsa and the chargrilled asparagus topped with a crispy fried duck egg, served with a side of rocket and topped with Parmesan. The cuttlefish didn’t last long and was proclaimed utterly divine. Sarah’s partner Daz is the culinary talent behind the dishes, and his skill is in evidence in every dish that came out of the kitchen. Everything is freshly cooked and made using local produce. My companion’s pan-fried sea bass was both delicate and succulent and came served in the most delicious king prawn and coconut sauce along with crispy panko king prawn and stir-fried vegetables. I had opted for a hearty bowl of butternut squash risotto that was creamy and flavourful, peppered with crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds.
We decided to take dessert back in the bar, beside the fire and enjoyed a delectable Baileys crème brûlée and a chocolate and Cointreau fondue, with a hot melted centre. Leafing through some of the old books around and playing board games, we felt a million miles away from the stresses of everyday life.
The Anchor Inn is just the place to stay and explore all that the beautiful county of Devon has to offer. It is within an easy drive of Totnes, Torquay and the east coast should you want to venture out. However, it’s a lovely place to retreat away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the countryside around, as it is located in such an idyllic spot with plenty of walks nearby. Even in the rain, we enjoyed pootling around the village, down to the stream and enjoying the fresh air and countryside views.
Stay in one of the rooms and you’ll be treated to the same standard of care and attention as you see in the restaurant. The rooms are decorated to a high standard, yet maintain that quaint cottage feel and you’ll spot little details such as handcrafted wood from nearby Salcombe. Breakfast offers coffee that has been carefully brewed and chosen from a coffee producer just down the road, a spread to help yourself from as well as plenty of hot options straight from the kitchen – and the weather report for the day ahead, so you are fully prepared for the day ahead. Our stay at The Anchor Inn left us feeling refreshed and with that insider knowledge that we had just hit upon a hidden treasure.
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