Venturing out into the cold on a February evening is not something my wife and I would normally choose to do, preferring to stay at home with a plate of ham, egg and chips to watch the latest episode of Silent Witness. But the lure of The Oddfellows Gastro Bar and Cocktail Lounge, with its variable menu of locally sourced ingredients and variety of tempting dish choices was simply too much to resist.

Upon arrival we were immediately struck by the quirky decor of this delightful eatery, which made us even keener to see what was on offer on the menu. Ryan, the manager, gave us a warm welcome, directing us to a cosy, intimate table and returning promptly with our selected drinks. Throughout the evening Ryan proved to be knowledgeable about all things ‘foodie’, having worked in the industry for many years along with most of his family, and his passion for locally sourced ingredients and providing a quality dining experience for his customers really made us think about the food we were going to be eating and how much goes on behind the scenes.

Whilst waiting for the arrival of our food we had the opportunity to take in the ambience of our surroundings. The background music was pleasant and although loud enough to hear, it wasn’t excessively loud which can be a problem in some restaurants. If I can’t hear my friends speaking, I for one will not return. The layout, which was divided into several eclectically arranged areas, made you feel included but not overlooked giving you privacy to be able to talk freely but still take in your surroundings and not feel conscious about being out of place.

Onto the food! We love bread, so naturally we couldn’t resist starting with a platter of warm sourdough bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and butter – mouth-watering! To start I was initially going to play it safe with the soup of the day, but my wife steered me towards the Tom Hunt Pork Belly Popcorn served with air dried pork crackling and an apple cider sauce (£6.00) which she thought I would love. Of course, she was right! With the subtle combination of flavours and textures it was one of the tastiest starters I’ve had in a long time and looked great too. Finding the Twice Cooked Vulscombe Goats Cheese Soufflé (£5.50) on the menu was a real treat for my wife. This beautifully served dish was complemented with pickled walnuts, raisins and a rhubarb pureé and was both light and rich in flavour.

When looking at mains the Devon Ruby Red Gourmet Burger (£13.00), served with tripled cooked chips, coleslaw and dressed leaves, was an absolute must for both me and my wife but we both thought it best to try two different dishes. After pointing out her success in choosing my starter, my wife came out the victor. The quality of the Ruby Red meat was clear from the first bite, and cooked to perfection. The triple cooked chips were to die for – crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with great flavour. I opted for the Westcountry 8oz Rib-eye Steak (£18.00), also served with tripled cooked chips as well as roasted on vine tomatoes, leaves, and a green peppercorn sauce. The steak was cooked just to my liking from an again superb cut of meat and the roasted on vine tomatoes just gave an edge that was required.

Never one to resist a desert (although feeling very full at this point), I opted for the Spiced Orange & Almond Cake (£5.50) to finish my meal. Beautifully presented in a large bowl, the cake was packed full of flavour and was served with a plum sauce that gave a delightful tang that was just right.

We left with our tummies feeling content, and questioning our past choices of staying home in front of the television. The Oddfellows has certainly given us a worthwhile reason to venture out of winter hibernation for a truly great night out!

Words & Photos: Paul Veysey

Visit The Oddfellows online at:

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