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, South Molton,
“I’d love to live next door to this quaint little pub” notes a fan of The Masons Arms – a thatched, 13th-century inn tucked into a hamlet amid the foothills of Exmoor. Inside, there’s a magnificent beamed bar with a log-burning inglenook, a sofa-filled lounge, and a separate restaurant with lovely views. But the real surprise is in the kitchen: Mark Dodson used to be head chef at Bray’s three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn before upping sticks and moving to Devon: “he not only has great pedigree, but he’s a thoroughly lovely chap with a lovely family too”, observes one visitor. These days, Mark spends his time sourcing top-notch produce from local suppliers and delivering a short daily menu of technically brilliant dishes notable for their stunning flavours and contrasts: cured salmon, crisp fennel and grapefruit; a ballottine of ham hock teamed with green peppercorns, piccalilli and tarragon vinaigrette; turbot on the bone with summer vegetables, brown shrimps and sorrel or breast of corn-fed chicken with artichokes, polenta and tomato jus. After that, perhaps go for limoncello parfait with lime granita. Overall, it’s “incredible stuff”.
Squaremeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2016 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2016. Thousands of readers and bloggers took part and the results were moderated by the Squaremeal editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The survey does not ask for or include any restaurants in London. Click here for a full list of Squaremeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2016
From: 09 July 2015
To: 30 December 2019
Look for the "£" icon when booking (offers only available on certain days/times)
, South Molton
King's Nympton Station 17km
Lapford Station 18km
Exmoor House Caravan Club Site 9km
Tarr Steps 9km
Tue-Sun 12N-2pm Tue-Sat 7-9pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
The Mason's Arms, Knowstone
This was our second visit and happily chef's Waterside pedigree shone through. The pub-style Mason's Arms is obviously more modest than the Thames-side three-star crowning glory of the Roux empire, but the quaint little mid-Devon village of Knowstone is more than adequately represented on the fine dining map by Mark Dodson's restaurant. Every dish was good and the service much improved by comparison with our previous experience here. The seared peppered tuna and oriental salad starter was something I had enjoyed before and it was still well up to standard, the pigeon breasts with a clever curried brussels sprouts purée were much appreciated, and the smoked duck salad with duck liver parfait and delicious cherry dressing also went down well. The mains continued the winning streak, the fish dish of monkfish in prosciutto with smoked mackerel croquettes and scallops almost upstaging the seasonal game offerings of local venison loin with pear done in red wine and a blue cheese gratin and partridge breast "en crépinette" beautifully balanced with caramelised apple and cranberries, both of which were first-class. Chocolate cheesecake and honeycomb ice cream was possibly justifiably the preferred dessert, although my spiced pumpkin crème brûlée matched with a lovely cinnamon ice cream definitely competed for the top of the podium. Everything considered this was an excellent meal and the icing on the cake, as it were, taking into account the aperitifs, wine and coffee, was the amazing value for money the bill represented. A most satisfactory evening.
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