Does Devon have the best food and drink in the UK?

by Jules on August 23, 2013

The British county of Devon is a real foodie’s delight, offering many places to both eat and drink. There are Michelin-starred restaurants, exquisite pubs, unique cafes and tearooms, and scenic vineyards in Devon, all within close proximity to one another. Top chefs are increasingly moving into the area due to the fertile soil. Many interesting and exciting ingredients can be locally sourced and chefs can find high quality raw materials locally.

Devon has a multitude of fine food festivals throughout the year and my advice is to station yourself at one of the delightful Devon cottage getaways to put yourself at the very heart of the action. Catch the South Devon Crab Month which runs throughout the month of August and celebrates the plethora of delicious seafood that can be caught off the English coast, including crabs. As well as sampling the delicious sweet crab, visitors can also take part in a street party and even try crabbing for themselves. In August Plymouth hosts the Flavour Fest where 150,000 people descend on the town to sample local fare. And coming up in October is the North Devon Foodfest, which showcases fine produce from North Devon and Exmoor.

During Easter there is the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink. This festival is held at the courtyard of Exeter Castle and the Northernhay Gardens. It is three days long, and there is also after dark events such as live music and chef demos.
Of course high-quality local fare will need fine drink to accompany it. Ales, ciders, and wines are all produced locally. Devon is famous for its scrumpy cider, but some of England’s highest-quality wines are produced at Sharpham Wine and Cheese Vineyard. These have won awards both nationally and internationally. The vineyard is set on the bank of the River Dart at a 550 acre estate. 12,000 vines capture the sun on the south facing slopes. The vineyard offers tastings and tours, making it a perfect destination for the connoisseur. The Black Friars Distillery, home of Plymouth Gin, is another top location. It is the oldest distillery in England still in operation, built in 1793. The distillery offers a guided tour as well as gin tasting.

Award-winning restaurants can be found across Devon. Plymouth alone has six restaurants with celebrity chefs at the helm. More traditional food is served in the smaller pubs and cafes, and these are spread over Devon’s countryside. The Staghunter’s Inn in Brendon is near Lynton is steeped in traditional hunting culture. The pub is in a more remote location and is one of the primary means of entertainment in the location. The King’s Arms in Georgeham is another pub with a friendly atmosphere and delicious food and drink.

Top UK chef Michael Caines MBE (who was born in the county) is the head chef of Gidleigh Park on Dartmoor, a Michelin two starred restaurant. The restaurant has won additional awards, including 4 AA Rosettes, 3 Red Turrets, and 1 Rosette for the restaurant. There are three elegant dining rooms at Gidleigh Park: the traditional, oak-panelled Meldon dining room is the main dining room; the lighter and more informal Teign room; and the Nattadon contemporary room, which has its own wine wall. Gidleigh Park serves modern European cuisine and has a à la carte and seasonal menu. The wine list is exquisite and considered one of the finest in the UK.

With the variety and quality of Devon’s food and drink offerings, it is the perfect place for any foodie to go.

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