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“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”.
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