The Masons Arms, Knowstone

I am constantly amazed by Michelin’s ability to find the country’s best restaurants even when hidden away in an unlikely corner of the English countryside. The Masons Arms is a quaint pub in Knowstone, Devon, and is recognised by Michelin as one of the UK’s best pubs for foodies. The pub is run by a friendly couple who are passionate about good food and service.

This charming 13th century pub will transport you; as a Londoner I felt completely removed from the busy city life. I particularly loved the old-fashioned thatched roof. The dining room is cosy and comfortable offering lovely views of the verdant surrounding countryside. Before opening his own eatery, chef and owner Mark Dodson was head chef at Michel Roux’s renowned Waterside Inn in Bray. At Masons Arms he produces hearty, tasty food, which is what most of the visitors desire after a bracing walk in the area.

An a la carte menu is available at lunch and dinner and features a range of dishes championing British ingredients with a creative, often Asian twist. We sampled the reasonable lunch menu which allows guests to indulge in three courses (£25) or two courses (£20) at a cut of the normal price.

After a round of delicious crusty bread our starters arrived. Cream of cauliflower soup was a simple and comforting dish, lusciously smooth soup with subtle seasoning and finely flaked and toasted almonds on top. Duck liver parfait was a richer option with a luxurious and complex flavour accompanied with wonderful pear chutney and granary toast. The chef also delivered a plate of Seared peppered tuna with Oriental salad to our table, an eclectic and intriguing dish full of punchy ingredients with the highest quality fish steak.

Main courses were generously sized, especially for lunchtime. Classic Roulade of pork belly was sweet and indulgent, perhaps a little too sweet. A tender piece of pork was perched on a bed of braised red cabbage, apple compote and roasted vegetables. It was the ideal dish for a lazy weekend lunch. I chose to taste the vegetarian option (which would have been suitable for vegans too), a very pretty plate of Baked aubergine with roasted vegetables and balsamic reduction. It was artistically presented and tasted good but could have benefitted from a contrasting texture, perhaps some cheese or carbohydrate within the recipe would have been nice.

Dessert was my favourite course, a delicate and creamy Tonka bean creme brûlée with sharp, exotic passion fruit sorbet and a board of irresistible local West Country cheeses and chutneys.

Masons Arms is a popular local haunt perfect for satisfying Sunday lunches. Though more pricey, I would recommend opting for the a la carte menu which offers much more choice and finesse, and more exciting culinary variety and creative flair.

More information and book a table here.

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