The last couple of weeks has been a bit full-on. My mum is a wonderful mum, and she saw that I needed a bit of cheering up so she took me out to lunch on a cold and rainy Friday afternoon recently. What cheered me up even more is that we went to The Cadeleigh Arms, a pub that has been on my hit-list since my early days of food blogging. Like many of the best places, we’re not always able to make it to every restaurant or eatery that we’d like to, but this was a rare opportunity to strike one off the bucket list.
I do like a good pub. In fact I love pubs. Beyond that swish modern glassy interiors of city centre restaurants, country pubs have a long heritage that could be easy to forget. It is also easy to forget that the ‘Gastropub’ as we know it now is a relatively recent invention (1991, according to this informative article); the ‘wet-led’ pub feels like a bit of a rarity these days, especially in countryside.
The Cadeleigh Arms unassuming exterior stealthily hides an award-winning establishment which is one of the top fifty Gastropubs in the UK, according to Estrella. It has also won Devon Life Pub of the Year 2018 and Chef/Owner Nick Hack won Devon Life Chef of the Year 2018 as well – add a Taste of the West Gold 2018/2019 to the list of accolades, it is clear they must be doing something right.
As soon as we pull into the car park, the first thing you notice is the view. If we had a ‘Dining Devon Award: Best Car Park View’ then The Cadeleigh Arms would win it hands down; the undulating hills drawing the eye along into the distance to the Exe Valley. I even took a photo of it, but given I wasn’t in ‘Food Blogger Mode’ I only had my naff phone which decided not to take the photo even though it said it had, so trust me on this one.
Cadeleigh is a picturesque little place with a scattering of houses, a church and a village hall. The 15th Century Church is a rebuild of an older church, and the village itself dates back to at least Norman times when listed in the Domesday book (or at least the bits that went into it) – Cadeleigh comprised of fourteen villagers, five smallholders, three slaves, four pigs and eighty sheep. I am certain that they have more sheep now.
The Cadeleigh Arms rates highly on TripAdvisor and Farcebook, and now it is going to rate highly with Dining Devon.
Our menu looked like this:
- Starters: Falafal with Tahini & Pickled Beetroot (£7.50) – Olives & Focaccia (£4.50)
- Mains: Devon Ruby Beef Burger, Tomato Chutney, Devon Blue with Brioche Buns with Skinny Fries (£12.95) – Roasted Squash with Miso, Chicory & Pearl Barley (£12.50)
I also treated myself to a rare midday pint of Devon Rock Craft Lager. For the latest version of their menu, head to the website.
The menu is not extensive, and it shouldn’t be. A well engineered and carefully thought out menu is the grounding for any self-respecting gastropub. If you want 1385 different options, go to Wetherspoons.
There is a nice balance between plant-based, vegetarian and meat options. Price is what you would expect for quality food, but could be definitely be a lot more – although I went for the burger which was considerably cheaper than other items, it was a culinary highlight that I am going to return to and repeat.
Ordering the burger for me is a litmus test as to the quality and care that the kitchen will take on even the most simplest meals. A good burger, for me, must be squashable enough to be taken in hand and chomped on and it did not disappoint, there was no deconstructing, no soggy bottoms. It was a fine burger.
The other side of the table tucked into a delicious Roasted Squash with Miso, Chicory and Pearl Barley. There was praise given to the Chicory and the combination of flavours that came across well. In my experience, squash is such a bland vegetable, so to get the best out of something which doesn’t have much flavour naturally is quite something.
The emphasis on seasonality and local is important to The Cadeleigh Arms. Have a look at their suppliers list on their website, and there is very little that comes from anywhere beyond the borders of our fine county. Also they do also special nights with one-time menus so keep an eye on their website and social media.
Cadeleigh is about six miles from Exeter and four miles from Tiverton. If you’re used to heading to Bickleigh Mill or the Fisherman’s Cott (which is owned by the big chain Marston’s Inns) at the bottom of the hill from Cadeleigh then I strongly urge you to travel a little further up and discover this hidden independent gem.
Head Chef Nick Hack, Tina and their team have created a welcoming pub that goes that extra mile for their patrons.
Telephone: 01884 855238
Cadeleigh used to have a railway station. OK, so it was actually Bickleigh where the Devon Railway Centre is currently located, but the station itself served both Bickleigh and Cadeleigh.
This link is fascinating and takes the reader on a small journey in photographs up the old Exeter – Tiverton branchline that was shut during the Beeching closures in the sixties! http://www.cornwallrailwaysociety.org.uk/stoke-canon-to-dulverton-via-tiverton-exe-valley-line.html