DODDISCOMBSLEIGH, Exeter, EX6 7PS
For over 400 years, this old building has stood in the rolling countryside between the Haldon Hills and the Teign Valley. Remodelling over the centuries has reflected its several roles, including a long spell as a centre for parish affairs and meeting place until in 1838 Pophill House, as it was then known, formally became The New Inn. Among the five landlords since was the poor chap in 1952 whose body undertakers mistakenly left in the mortuary, so that his funeral went ahead with an empty coffin - which is how the inn acquired its name. Inside, providing all the expected old-world charm, are low ceilings, blackened beams, an inglenook fireplace and antique furniture. The bar serves 30-odd wines by the glass, selected from a range of more than 250 bins, some quite rare, and the shelves groan under the weight of a mind-boggling 280 whiskies, mostly malts. Branscombe Vale brewery supplies NoBody's Bitter, with other Devon and Cornwall guest ales adding to the choice. Crisp white napkins define the restaurant, where the seasonally changing menus, awarded an AA Rosette, rely extensively on fine Devon produce. A typical lunch or dinner would be beetroot carpaccio, Vulscombe goats' cheese mousse, candied walnuts and celery and apple salad; followed by herb-crusted confit sea bream fillet and mussel chowder; or the ever-popular steak and NoBody ale pie; and, to finish, pistachio olive oil cake with raspberry sorbet. Daily specials might be panko crumb squid and sweet chilli mayo; and rack of Devon lamb, oregano crust, pesto mash, roast butternut squash and Madeira jus. If you want a bar snack, there's homity pie; and ploughman's, featuring Sharpham Brie, Devon Blue or Devon Oke cheese.