TIPTON ST JOHN, Sidmouth, EX10 0AA
Michelle and Francois Teissier have been at the helm of this welcoming Devon village pub for over a decade. So many things contribute to its traditional feel - the low wooden beams and stone walls, the winter log fire, the art-deco prints and Tiffany lamps, not to mention the paintings by Devonian and Cornish artists. And there's the bar, of course, where locally brewed Otter ales are the order of the day. Chef-patron Franky (as everyone calls him) trained in classical French cooking at a prestigious establishment in the Loire Valley, a grounding that accounts today for his rustic French, Mediterranean and British menus. Their delights may include home-smoked duck salad with onion marmalade; chunky fish soup with rouille and croutons; crevettes with garlic butter; moules frites; steak frites; escargots de Bourgogne; magret de canard; and crayfish salad with lime and garlic dressing. Given that the genteel seaside town of Sidmouth is just down the road, the seafood specials depend totally on that day's catch - cod, hake and sea bass are all candidates. Tempting white and granary bread sandwiches are filled with fresh Lyme Bay crab, mature cheddar or home-cooked ham. The Sunday lunch menu offers roast West Country beef with Yorkshire pudding; roast lamb with mint sauce; and winter vegetable crÍpe. As Franky sums up: 'When Michelle and I took over in 2003, our aim was to create a friendly, inviting village pub offering great value, high-quality food made from the freshest ingredients; with our combination of rustic French dishes and traditional British food with a Mediterranean twist, there's something for everyone!' Outside there is a grassy beer garden and walled terrace area with tumbling grapevines.