Review: The Cove Café Bar, Hope Cove

The Cove Café Bar: The South West’s best craft beach bar by a country mile'

The Cove Café Bar: The South West’s best craft beach bar by a country mile' - Credit: Archant

Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery pays a visit to a pub in a seaside Devon village

'An endearing, uber cool beach-style caf bar set right in the heart of this unspoilt fishing village

'An endearing, uber cool beach-style caf bar set right in the heart of this unspoilt fishing village' - Credit: Archant

I’ve long held the belief that whatever Cornwall has to offer as a county (or should that be country!) Devon can more than match. Think of the countryside, the cathedral cities and even the cider! Then there is the coastline. It’s not necessary to leave our county to find an array of beautiful beaches to stretch out on. In fact, because ours are a little more sheltered they are probably all the more welcoming for it. They are also home to some very inventive, forward thinking small businesses.

Putting this theory to the test we decided to swap one Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the Blackdowns) for another, Hope Cove - or to be geographically precise Inner Hope. Located some five miles west of Salcombe and five miles southwest of Kingsbridge this small seaside village boasts its own sandy beach and striking coastline in either direction. The famous laid back South Devon magic is definitely at work here.

Helping to perpetuate this holiday feeling are a couple who have turned their ten-year love affair with the area into their living. Toby and Shelley fly in the face of the established argument that you can’t mix work and pleasure. Previously a journalist and PR for the music industry and a night owl who somehow also found time to run a live music venue, Toby has literally lifted the best bits of his former life in Cheshire and transported them down to Devon. The location (they got married here) picked itself and Shelley’s astute eye as a former estate agent soon found the venue. That was nearly three years ago.

The result is an endearing, uber cool beach-style café bar set right in the heart of this unspoilt fishing village. But there’s more to the offering than just its proximity to the sand. Toby’s love of craft beer – so-called because of the craft brewing movement that started with small American breweries experimenting with different, often very powerful hops - has found the perfect home here. The Cove has the mindset of a modern urban craft bar that you might find in somewhere like Bristol but with the beach as its backdrop. Big, bold punchy flavours from small UK breweries sit alongside more traditional cask ales and also a very strong local cider and lager offering.

The music vibe hasn’t been lost either. We arrived to the sound of dub filling the bar as Toby beavered under the counter connecting a new keg of Tarka and Mark the Fisherman sneaked a fresh lobster into the kitchen. Live bands regularly squeeze into the lounge area and with the furniture parked next door in the Post Office you get the impression they’re always nights to remember.

The food hits the mark too. Fresh fish naturally takes centre stage – think creamy mussels, a pint of prawns, salt and pepper squid or handpicked Salcombe crab served with a squeeze of lemon. Then there are the stone-baked sourdough pizzas, homemade burgers, hot dogs with South Devon Chilli Farm sauce and a ‘little sailors’ menu for children. Take on the seafood platter as we did and you won’t leave hungry!

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There’s so much to pull you back here but for us it was that their offering is such a unique one. Toby is someone who really understands what the world of craft ale stands for and consequently this has got to be the South West’s best craft beach bar by a country mile.

The details

Real Ale: Otter Amber, Otter Brewery; Topsail, Bays Brewery; 30 different craft beers

Local Lager: Tarka, Otter Brewery

Local Cider: Devon Red, Sandford Orchards; Wildsider, Otter Brewery; Yarde Dry Cider, Yarde Cider

Contact details: The Cove Cafe Bar, Harbour Lights, Hope Cove, Kingsbridge. TQ7 3HQ.

Tel: 01548 561376