There are a great any excellent gastropubs in the UK, but not many can claim to have a chef who once held three Michelin stars at the helm. The Masons Arms is that pub - simultaneously managing to preserve the atmosphere of a welcoming West Country boozer, whilst also serving immaculate British food in the dining room courtesy of former Waterside Inn head chef Mark Dodson.
Mark is the head of an all-star team that also includes Olivier Certain (formerly head chef at the excellent Clavelshay Barn restaurant) and between them, they cook up classic British fare with French flair. Try the terrine of chicken and ham hock with pea and mint vinaigrette to start, or the tuna loin with roasted vegetables, orange and five spice glaze. Mains include the likes of halibut with potato crust, wild mushrooms and jerusalem artichokes, loin of lamb with spiced potato croquette, smoked aubergine and cumin jus, and roasted pigeon royale on a crouton with pommes Anna and onion puree - a dish that could certainly grace the menu at The Waterside Inn.
There are rooms available at The Masons Arms as well, in case the journey back out of deepest, darkest Devon feels like too much after three courses. That also opens the door to The Masons Arms excellent wine list - a selection of fantastic old and new world bottles, with many available by the glass and the bottle at very affordable prices. Frankly, why wouldn't you stay a while longer? Knowstone itself is right on the edge of stunning Exmoor National Park, and this 13th-century inn has plenty of old-world charms of its own.