Queen Street, Honiton, EX14 1HE
Open: Tuesday – Friday, 5pm – 11pm.
Saturday, 12pm – 11pm.
Sunday, 12pm – 6pm.
Prices: Starters – £7.25 – £8.95.
Mains – £14.95 – £25.95.
Desserts – £6.95.
The Railway Inn, Honiton
A railway indicates a journey – a means to your next location. But in the East Devon market town of Honiton, a new family-run culinary team have revitalised what’s shaping up to be a town jewel – a destination you’ll want to stay put. Welcome to the Railway Inn.
A smart but unassuming exterior doesn’t give away many clues. Inside, it’s comfortable and well presented, with a striking bar and intriguing view into the kitchen. I’m told a series of prints of Honiton’s Railway Station through the years will soon adorn the walls, paying homage to the history of the building.
It’s a modest approach which continues onto the Railway Inn’s menu and resonates throughout the entire restaurant experience – very soon you realise expectations are constantly surpassed.
Chef Steve’s dishes are simplistic and unpretentious, yet diverse and perfectly plated. A quietly confident pairing of fascinating ingredients, textures and flavours is revealed through building intrigue that starts from the moment these beautifully presented dishes are set on the table.
The roasted pigeon breast starter achieved was a perfect example. Hazelnuts and blackberries ensured textures were balanced while the sloe gin and red wine sauce offset the pickled flavours. Ingredients are fresh and so reflect the seasons. The slow braised venison cannelloni – an indulgent masterpiece.
A selection of mains spans the classic burger option to pan-friend mignons of beef fillet, beautifully tender Creedy Carver duck leg and (special mention to the decadent dauphinoise potatoes) and a light butternut squash risotto.
Perhaps the confidence is unsurprising, as the pressure of having an open kitchen is no easy feat.
There’s no faceless chef here. Instead, the kitchen team work that bit harder to win the discerning diner’s trust in an intimate experience that builds an unspoken relationship.
What’s more, local serving staff all go about their duties with a warm, welcoming smile and a friendly manner that immediately puts you at ease.
The restaurant supports the local community further by sourcing most of the meat on the menu from Porkies – Honiton’s local family-run butcher – as well as boasting a selection of South West ales, and plenty more, from other nearby producers.
Steve admitted to me: “perhaps we give too much”. Portion sizes are deceptive, and complimentary appetisers make you feel special right from the off. But it’s the value for money for such a high-end experience that has me astounded.
Three freshly refurbished rooms are available upstairs too – perfect for wining and dining any visiting friends and family, where a snug overnight stop is just a few steps away.
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum