Let me set the scene. Beautiful, rolling Devon countryside glistening in the sun; the sound of laughter and conversation complemented by birdsong in the surrounding trees; and nestled amongst them, possibly the oldest public house in the county.
It was a glorious sunny evening when we visited, which made The Cridford Inn even more impressive with its white walls, hanging baskets full of beautiful flowers, and climbing roses – all swathed in glorious sunshine. Holidaymakers and locals alike sat laughing and chatting, and a warm, inviting feeling was instantly added to the already warm temperatures.
We were actually booked to visit on what turned out to be the warmest evening of July (and in some parts of the country – the highest temperature ever recorded) so keeping cool was a slight concern. Fortunately, the journey to Trusham was much quicker than we anticipated – less than 30 minutes from Exeter – and as we entered through the main door we welcomed the immediate coolness of this over 1,000-year-old building dating all the way back to 825AD, rumoured to be the oldest in Britain!
We were welcomed by Ness, who along with her husband Paul, are the current proprietors of The Cridford Inn, having obtained the pub just 12 months ago. Ness took the time to proudly tell us about the history of the pub. It is a traditional Devon Long House with thick cob walls (hence the coolness), and had previously been a nunnery and a farm, originally inhabited by the early Britons/Celts before the building was remodelled in 1081. In 1086 it was one of the nine smallholdings mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Once inside you’re spoilt for choice in terms of seating options. Each and every corner offers beautiful views out over the Devon countryside and the many interesting nooks and crannies create a cosy, intriguing ambience that you can explore with your eyes. Many artefacts are hung attractively on the walls to complement the more dominant features, including an inglenook fireplace and a pebbled glass covered area in the middle of the main dining room showing the date of 1081.
Paul and Ness have worked very hard to maintain the history of the pub while adding to the offering where possible. A huge bar boasts 50 different gins! Don’t worry, if you fancy trying a few then a holiday cottage is available to let on site…
As we perused the extensive menu we again felt spoilt for choice, plus the aromas coming from the kitchen were making it hard to settle one dish! An entrée was required to help us make our decisions, so we selected the Crusty Sourdough, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Marinated Olives (£4) for two to help us focus.
To start we chose the Prosciutto Ham, Fresh Fig and Garlic Aioli (£7) and the Chicken Liver Parfait with Toast and Membrillo (£6.50). The garlic aioli was full of flavour yet not overpowering and complemented the prosciutto wonderfully. So much so that I had it again with my main! Both portions were extremely generous too.
For our mains we chose the beautifully served Garlic Prawn Caesar Salad (£12). This consisted of garlic roasted tiger prawns, lovely crisp pancetta, kos lettuce, croutons, parmesan and fresh anchovies. The tiger prawns simply melted in the mouth and a lot of thought had gone into the textures of the dish to make for an enjoyable eat.
Main number two was the Pan Roasted Chicken Breast served with sautéed potatoes, asparagus and garlic aioli (£12). Lovely succulent chicken was a joy to savour and the grilled asparagus was a delicious accompaniment.
An Orange and Passion Fruit Tart with Whipped Cream (£6) offered a wonderfully light but flavourful finish to the meal for my husband – the shortcrust pastry filled with a dreamy melt in the mouth citrus filling. I went the opposite direction with the Dark Chocolate and Mascarpone Torte (£6.50) which was indescribably scrumptious – the silky texture of the torte contrasting against the crunchy praline was just perfect!
All in all, a visit to The Cridford Inn provides a wonderful, welcoming experience where history and traditional values combine with a friendly atmosphere and top-quality food. I know I’ll be back.
Find out more at www.thecridfordinn.co.uk
Words: Bev Ward