Eating Exeter Blog

The Seven Stars at Kennford by Chris Gower


It is strange how life completely overruns everything sometimes!  After a promotion at work, I hadn’t realised how much brain space it would take up, so apologies to our regular readers for a lack of activity on the blog in recent weeks.  But to break the silence, here is my write-up of the stonking meal we had at the Seven Stars in Kennford a few weeks ago after being invited down by Mike Welsh.

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It was an amazing meal and I say it from the bottom of my heart that this was one of those meals that twanged a string somewhere at the part of my existence that is purely fuelled by food.

I love pubs.  All pubs. Big ones, small ones, posh ones and scruffy ones.  The role of the pub within a small community is amplified by support for its existence by the locals. They are the ones that make or break a pub’s existence, and when you get a really good pub helmed by a team with passion and skill, you get a pub like the Seven Stars in Kennford.

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Before the motorway came through, this pub sat on one of the principal routes heading to Torquay and beyond.  The tiny village of Kennford rests in the shadow of Haldon Hill; just up the road is the excellent Bickham Farm which is the home of Rod & Ben’s and the lovely Bickham Barn where all sorts of amazing Pop-up events take place.  But that is another story!

I will admit now, I drove to Kenton.

After my brain failed spectacularly at this working out the difference between the two villages, I cracked out the Sat Nav and in a matter of minutes we were pulling up outside The Seven Stars; an unassuming looking pub with on-street parking and smack bang in the middle of this cosy little village that many motorists pass worrying about getting enough speed to make it up Haldon Hill.

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A beautiful mishmash of furniture, a fire stocked to the guns with wood ready for burning as the colder months set in, a wooden floor and an elaborate collection of stuff to admire presented themselves as we walked in.

There were no silent stares, just a welcoming feeling.  And pints of local ale including the eponymous yet much loved Dartmoor Brewery’s, Jail Ale.  I return to our seat with pints in hand, and a small part of me was metaphorically snuggling up in a duvet – this place has a good energy.

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The menu is straight forward and well thought out.  There is the main menu and a Sunday variation (under Food and Takeaway Pizzas) which takes into account that on Sundays, punters want Roasted Meats.  But not all want a roast, so there are a few other options as well which is refreshing, given the insistence that some pubs have that on Sunday the ONLY thing you can have is roast.  The Sunday option and the main options are both reasonably priced and competitive compared to other pubs locally that offer food.

For our starter I went for the one thing that had the word ‘spiced’ in the title Spiced Pulled Pork Fritters, Maple Dressing and Crackling £6.50 and Tori opted for Garlic Mushrooms on Toast with Dressed Leaves £6.00

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My starter as utterly gorgeous.  A perfect fritter surrounding a moist collection of pulled pork topped with a home made pork scratching.  After the meal, Mike explained how the scratching is made, and once you realise how much work it takes, this dainty addition to the meal takes on a whole new context!

The Maple Dressing is the perfect dipping sauce for both elements of the starter.  Its sweetness with the complex smokiness of the pork harmonised together perfectly. Can you tell I liked it?

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Tori’s morsels of mushroomy goodness went down very well on her side of the table. The toast and the garlic mushrooms contrasted well together with the Forest Funghi wild mushrooms to create a really tasty starter.

Our mains were an agonising choice as it sounded all so appealing.  I went for Chicken, Forest Fungi Mushrooms & Devon Blue Cheese; Seasonal Vegetables, Garlic & Thyme Potatoes (£13.50) and Tori eventually went for her favourite 8oz Rump Steak, Tomato, Mushrooms, Onion Rings, Hand Cut Chips & Salad* £16.75  with added Peppercorn sauce.

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Perfectly cooked veg, a good helping of gravy and a lovely moist chicken breast really topped this dish off for me.  After the large and delightful starter, this was a nicely portioned light chicken dish that played to the strengths of the Forest Funghi mushrooms and the seasoned vegetables.  Add the gravy too which turned it into a lovely combination.

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This was a really delightful steak and from Tori’s side of the table there was much comments about how well cooked it was and the great taste of the meat.  The perfectly cooked steak had an amazing taste which was tender and lovely.

Both of us were full and incredibly satisfied so we only shared a dessert.  I let Tori choose it and inevitably it was going to be the choice that mostly consisted of chocolate.

Chocolate Brownie & Pistachio Ice Cream (£6.00) was inevitable. It was going to happen, and I was really glad it did happen!

Where possible ingredients are bought locally with fewer miles on the clock, this is reflected in the taste and quality of the ingredients.

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The brownie was spectacular with home-made pistachio ice cream, this was a simple yet divine dessert.  We battled the last piece of brownie around the plate like ice hockey players seconds before the final buzzer of the game.  I was gracious in defeat but I let her have the last piece… honestly?

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Behind the unassuming exterior of this village pub lives a vision and skill that is almost deceptive.  Although Mike isn’t always in the pub – in fact he is the main cog in a very successful catering business which himself and his wife Leanne take great pride in providing fine food to weddings and other big events like Chagstock for instance – the food is representative of the eye for detail and flavour that was representative of our meal at the Seven Stars.

I thoroughly recommend coming out to The Seven Stars and giving it a spin.  It was homely and welcoming, and it has no pretenses above a great village pub serving exquisite food.

They even have a pool table.  I’m not actually that bad at pool, so I thought…

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