As the summer holidays draw to a close, we find ourselves knocking on the door of Autumn. South Devon...
Coming here on holiday for a special occasion? Why not celebrate in style at one of the best restaurants in South Devon. The choice is extensive, with award-winning seafood restaurants, rustic gastro-pubs and stylish brasseries all offering delicious dishes that make the most of our region’s best produce.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more casual for everyday dining, take a look at our feature on the best pubs in South Devon.
Here are five of the best restaurants in South Devon, as selected by our locally-based team.
Opened by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks in 2008, The Seahorse in Dartmouth is perhaps the best-known gourmet restaurant in South Devon. Simplicity and seafood are the key themes, with roasted monkfish a particular speciality. Their charcoal-roasted fish are generally seasoned with just a few well-chosen herbs and a trickle of olive oil, accentuating the natural flavours.
As the ingredients they use are mostly seasonal, locally and freshly sourced, the exact menu depends on availability, while the wine list is always extensive.
Tonks, who plays a leading role in the annual Dartmouth Food Festival, has even written a cookbook based on the Seahorse and its recipes. ‘The Seahorse Book: The Restaurant & its Recipes’ (Absolute Press, 2015) is available nationally, and signed copies are available in local bookshops and at the restaurant itself.
Few visitors to The Seahorse would dispute its status as one of the best restaurants in South Devon and indeed the whole of the South West.
The Laughing Monk lies in the village of Strete, a charming coastal village in stunning Start Bay. Being right by the South West Coast Path, its location makes it ideal for enjoying a coastal walk either before or after your meal. But its immense popularity means it’s not somewhere you can often just wander in – booking in advance is highly recommended and can be done online here.
The Laughing Monk is synonymous with quality, both in its food and its service, which has won rave reviews for its positive approach to assisting diners who have intolerances and allergies. Seafood features strongly on the select menu, but there are other options too, such as their popular slow roasted Dartmoor pork belly.
Ben and Jackie Handley took over the Laughing Monk in 2008, and they’ve created a restaurant with a friendly, informal atmosphere alongside a commitment to exceedingly good quality food, which brought them a Taste of the West award in 2010. The building is also part of this restaurant’s appeal. Housed in a 19th century former village school, the Laughing Monk is unique in every way.
Like many of the best restaurants in South Devon, the Laughing Monk takes sourcing extremely seriously – which is why there’s a strong focus on fresh, local produce including fish and lobster caught in Start Bay itself.
Serving delicious food in a friendly pub atmosphere, the Millbrook Inn is a renowned bar and restaurant in the village of South Pool, near Kingsbridge. With a mission statement to ‘take localness to the limits’, chef Jean-Philippe Bidart fuses English ‘pub grub’ with French cuisine, whilst making the most of the fresh, local produce available in Devon.
The Millbrook’s menu changes with the seasons, with a host of new dishes created each time. However, their Bouillabaisse, a fish stew with saffron, fennel seeds, orange zest and rouille, has claimed a place on the menu for the past five years.
Keen to keep up their reputation as a village pub as well as one of the best restaurants in South Devon, the Millbrook has lots of local ales on tap as well as a large selection of wines, mainly sourced from France.
There’s something especially enjoyable about tucking into a delicious meal while surrounded by the very fields that produced it. That’s one reason why Riverford Field Kitchen, at Wash Farm in a beautiful area near Buckfastleigh, continues to be such a hit.
Dining at Riverford Field Kitchen is a very sociable affair, with most customers being seated together around a single large table, enjoying locally-sourced salads and vegetable dishes, along with one meat dish for sharing. At the end, you’ll have the chance to choose from a range of desserts.
Supper involves three vegetable dishes and a selection of wines chosen to complement the menu.
Booking is required and can be done online on the Riverford website.
Why not work up an appetite by walking around Wash Farm before your meal? You can either book a guided tour (seasonal) or wander around the farm yourself, using a printable map and free audio guide created by founder Guy Watson.
Thanks to its beautiful views of the Kingsbridge Estuary, dickandwills brasserie and bar offers a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. It’s this combination that makes dickandwills one of the best restaurants in South Devon. Expect a distinctive menu with a Mediterranean feel, also revealing Asian and North African influences.
With South Devon-sourced fish, meat and shellfish on the menu, including Salcombe crab sea bass and lobster, you’ll be able to find all of the best-loved local specialities. The dickandwills Three Cheese Lobster Mac – chunks of Salcombe Lobster in a Cheddar and Gruyere thermidor sauce, finished under the grill with Parmesan – is currently their flagship dish.
But there are also plenty of other options, including some distinctive vegetarian dishes like saag paneer with spiced cauliflower purée and Bombay potatoes garnished with fresh coriander.
In the summer, the al fresco dining area which overlooks the sparkling waters of the Estuary is hard to resist.