As you wind your way around the lanes of South Devon, probably heading for, or departing from, one of the many coastal destinations the county has to offer, I have no doubt that sustenance will be somewhere on your itinerary.
Look no further than The Bear and Blacksmith; located on the A379 in Chillington near Kingsbridge, what looks like a small bolthole from the front in fact leads a good distance back revealing a bar area, designated dining area and a garden to the rear with parking.
Chef and landlord Malcolm Church has over 20 years’ experience under his whites and is very proud to bring incredibly local and homegrown fayre to all who step across this pub’s threshold.
Where possible, Malcolm and fellow landlord, Claire Mundy grow and rear as much of the produce they sell in the restaurant as possible. They’ve got a smallholding in South Allington and grow veg on the land next to the pub. They’ve even got an in-house butcher to help transport the meat directly from field to fork. The team are very transparent about where their ingredients come from, as well as being supportive of local producers who can add to their offering.
We dined on a Friday evening and it was great to see the pub filled with visitors and locals, families and couples, workers and furry friends – all enjoying a bite to eat or a swift pint. The menu caters for everyone; with a small pub menu (which in my opinion indicates fresh ingredients) and a specials’ board showcasing the daily catch as well as what’s fresh from the farm that day. Staples such as burger of the day, day boat catch, steak from the farms very own stock, and baked camembert make up the robust main menu.
First up, was a seafood basket with tartare sauce; lightly breaded and oh so tender pieces of fish, prawns, calamari and salt and pepper squid with a pool of lush homemade tartare sauce. We also enjoyed The Bear and Blacksmith farm belly pork with chutney and toast; a fair chunk of juicy, tender meat with a hearty chutney and toasted homemade bread.
For my guest, the main choice was a simple one – a spicy seashore special of John Dory with Thai crab noodles and whole king prawns. I, on the other hand, struggled to choose and, not because of the lack of options but due to the abundance of choice. Opting for lamb, which I don’t cook often at home, the special of Salcombe Meat Company lamb, with boulangere potatoes, sauté vegetables and salsa verde was the winner. A pair of meaty caveman-like bones arrived, atop of said vegetables, with a well-seasoned potato tower that my knife went through like butter. The salsa verde was a vibrant tang for the tastebuds, cutting through the natural fattiness of this delicate yet earthy meat.
I didn’t hear much from the other side of the table – but not to worry, he was devouring his course in happy silence, only taking a breather to tell me he couldn’t fault it. A meaty and perfectly cooked fish fillet lay on a bed of flavoursome skinny noodles – a perfect balance of spicy yet fresh Thai sambal (made fresh using chillies from the farm) was laced with plenty of sweet crab and, if that wasn’t enough, a trio of prawns topped it all off.
The expertly-crafted desserts – a heavenly chocolate fondant and honeycomb ice cream, and a delicate, yet homely, Bakewell tart – were equally as tasty and warming as our previous courses.
While our beautiful coastline offers a feast for the eyes, The Bear and Blacksmith can certainly take care of your stomach. I will certainly be adding The Bear and Blacksmith to my next South Devon itinerary – I don’t think it can get more local or fresh than this.
*This review was previously written for and published in Crumbs Magazine, Devon and is my intellectual property along with the photography*
The Bear and Blacksmith, Chillington, Kingsbridge TQ7 2LD