Restaurant-profile - The Five Bells, Clyst Hydon, Cullompton Devon
Very much a foodie's pub in the Heart of Devon
The Five Bells,
Proprietors: Di and Roger Shenton
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11.30am-3pm and 6.30pm-11pm (closed Mon lunchtimes); Sun 12 noon-3pm and 6.30pm-10.30pm
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Food served: 12 noon-2pm and 6.30pm-9pm
Prices: Starters from �4.75; main courses from �7.95;
desserts from �3
King prawns in garlic, chilli and ginger
Black pudding with crispy bacon served on potato rosti with caramelised apple
Lamb shank, slowly cooked with a red wine and orange sauce
Supreme of chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms and chicken p�t�, and a mushroom sauce
Lemon syllabub with shortbread biscuit
Treacle tart and cream
The Five Bells
Very much a foodie’s pub
After a rather chaotic hour preceding our meal, which included locking myself out of the house without the car keys, nearly throwing my beloved Labrador at our long-suffering dog-sitter in my panicked state, and then an impromptu detour through some lovely rural back roads due to some poor navigation, the sight of The Five Bells in Clyst Hydon could not have been more welcoming. A well-tended garden leads you down to a beautiful thatched former farmhouse, warm lights beckoning you inside.
The farmhouse dates back to the 1500s, but it was 150 years ago that it became the establishment that stands today. The pub and the church were at the centre of the Clyst Hydon community until the 20th century when the rector objected to the proximity of the pub, prompting the landlord to move his inn to an old farmhouse. As a well-aimed ‘cock a snook’ to the rector, he renamed the inn after the ‘five bells’ of Clyst Hydon church.
Proprietors Roger and Di Shenton have created a look very much in keeping with the 16th-century building. The spacious interior has four main eating areas, and exposed beams and low ceilings maintain an intimate, cosy atmosphere. Hops hang across the bar, horse brasses along the beams, and jugs and other crockery are thoughtfully stowed. Despite all these curiosities, the overall aesthetic is not fussy but adds to the inn’s authenticity as a traditional English pub.
Due to the rural location, The Five Bells is primarily a foodie’s pub. Without passing trade nipping in for a quick pint, the pub has built a reputation as a place to eat hearty pub food of an excellent quality, made from fresh local produce. Roger cited the inn as a place to come for “traditional food, done well”, where everything is home-produced, never pre-made. Meat is sourced from butchers in Crediton and Exeter, and the seafood is fresh from Brixham.
For starters, my friend Emily chose the goats’ cheese and walnut tart with a sweet onion marmalade, and I enjoyed beautifully tender pan-fried scallops with chorizo potato salad. Emily then dug into a large serving of fish pie topped with a tangy cheese, and I"chose duck breast with a damson and sloe gin sauce, which was thoughfully presented and wonderfully generous.
Pudding time, and I thought it would be rude not to try the ‘famous’ butterscotch sticky meringue with praline, cream and ice cream. I was willing to risk a few more fillings for the sound of this naughty finale. The promise of this pud did not disappoint, every spoonful a delightful discovery of warm butterscotch sauce melting everything together in saccharine loveliness. Emily’s slightly more grown-up apple and pear fruit crumble she pronounced to be perfect.
The prices are incredibly reasonable considering the quality of the food, and there is a a good selection of wines to select from too. Each course was well thought out, well cooked and the service both friendly and attentive. All aspects of The Five Bells contribute to an experience worth getting a little lost for... it was a very enjoyable evening and made a perfect setting for a cosy catch-up on a chilly autumn night. ALEXANDRA RICHARDS