The Cary Arms

Warm and convivial in winter, or with a glorious outlook in summer, this is a winning restaurant on the South Devon Coast

There’s a lot more to dining out than good food... ambiance, good service, a deal of informality and pleasant surroundings are equally important. Throw into the equation the most photogenic and atmospheric beach-side spot in Torbay, and the Cary Arms is a winner.

The award-winning Boutique Inn and restaurant is now part of the de Savary empire, and that speaks volumes for the quality you might expect. It has always been a popular local since it was set up for paying guests in 1927, so there has had to be a fine balancing act to equate the ‘exclusive’ tag of the now boutique establishment with a ‘populist’ handle for the pub and restaurant that nevertheless complements the expectations of the guests staying there. Concentrating on gastro-pub food using the finest local produce has resulted in a quite superb balance being achieved, and the pub puts on a regular series of special dining experiences, one of which currently is a 1927 menu special offer.

The local aspect is further enhanced by Head Chef, Ben Kingdon, who is a local lad. Not only that, but Ben was Pub Chef of the Year in 2010 for a poultry dish, and the Creedy duck breast on the menu is based on his award-winning entry. It was something, of course, that I had to try, and it was easy to see why it won, especially following a beautifully piquant prawn and crayfish cocktail given extra zing with pickled bergamot lemons.

My wife opted for a goat’s cheese salad and a sirloin steak that was as succulent and tender as any fillet (Exmoor beef, I was told, supplied by Gibbons of Exmouth). For dessert, I had a sticky toffee pudding, and found it to be wonderfully light. My wife (and I still don’t know how) managed to demolish a heroic selection of local cheeses... I felt obliged to help, of course.

Service goes a lot further than you might expect here. Beach Road, at the bottom of which the Cary Arms lies, is notoriously long and steep and, in the recent snow, staff were out with wheelbarrows gritting the road, the end result of which was that the hill was one of the clearest roads in the Bay. There was no snow when we dined there although it was the middle of winter, but you certainly didn’t need your winter woollies on with the roaring log fire.

For all the warmth and conviviality inside (and the restaurant was full), it could have been the middle of summer, sat out on the circular dining platform called The Captain’s Table overlooking the glorious Babbacombe Bay, an experience – I hope – that will not be long delayed.  MALCOLM"TWIGG

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Sample Menu Starters

Home-made soup with granary bread

Prawn and crayfish cocktail, with pickled lemons, cherry tomatoes and Bloody Mary sauce

Wild mushroom and sunblushed tomato crostini

Main Courses

Devon steak and Otter Ale pie, with pan haggerty and seasonal vegetables

Pan-fried fillet of hake with roasted chorizo, saute potatoes and curly kale

Roasted ‘Creedy’ duck breast, served on a sweet potato mash, braised red cabbage, with a bacon, shallot and red wine sauce

Desserts

Apple and pear crumble with vanilla ice cream

Boozy winter trifle with sweet vanilla shortbread

Chocolate and amaretto tart with vanilla ice cream

The Cary Arms, Babbacombe Beach, Torquay, TQ1 3LX

caryarms.co.uk, 01803 327110

Proprietor: Lana de Savary

Manager: Jen Podmore

Head Chef: Ben Kingdon

Prices: Starters from �4.95; main course from �10 (veggie), �13 (other); desserts from �5

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