A return visit to The Five Bells Inn

A return visit to The Five Bells Inn

A couple of years ago Devonshire mag visited the Five Bells Inn for dining, the food provision being under the steady hand of chef Ian Webber. 

We awarded a Devonshire Fine Dining Gold to the Five Bells, so it was with sadness to hear that the chef had moved on to pastures new.

Déjà vu

Ross Haywood, the Five Bells’ PR guy, made contact to see if we’d like to carry out a review, bearing in mind the new kitchen team were now firmly bedded in.  I had reservations as our previous visit had delivered spectacular food.  Sometimes, however, you can be surprised, and indeed we were as the food again proved to be of spectacular quality, no small feat.

What was noticeable when we arrived was the buzz at the old Five Bells Inn. There were plenty of people enjoying themselves and looking happy, always a good sign I’d say.

Firstly we opted for the Autumn squash velouté which I have to confess, I’d never tasted anything like it, being light, full flavoured and delicious.  Again another surprise, broccoli served with toasted almonds and a lemon sauce – taste sensations that I didn’t expect – nuts/lemon/broccoli? – but it worked beautifully, actually a brilliant tasty, light, slightly astringent starter, paving the  way perfectly for the main course.

Left: Worth the trip to the Five Bells alone – for the Tira Misu – bliss!
Middle: Spiced aubergine caponata
Right: Broccoli with toasted almonds and lemon

Spiced aubergine caponata was the first mains, very Italian you may say (there’s an Italian guy in the Five Bells Inn kitchen), and again another tasty surprise.  Incidentally, this chap’s also responsible for the Tira Misu – heaven on earth if you like puds – and not too sweet which usually means death to all serious quality puddings!

Secondly, the mushroom risotto (which always sorts the men from the boys in the kitchen) was delicious, supremely well-cooked, attractive and ultimately delicious.

Finally a veritable double platinum to what, for me, was one of the most memorable mains I’ve had in a long time – Free range chicken with greens and potatoes – fabulous and flavoursome chicken, gravy and mash to die for, lovely sweet peas, all beautifully seasoned – extremely humble, but ultimately just lovely food!

The lady dining with her partner at the next table said to a member of staff that it was the best fish and chips she’d ever had. Food doesn’t have to be overly messed with, just good ingredients cooked well to bring out the best flavours.

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This article was written by
Nigel Jones

Nigel has been publishing magazines since 1995 (some 20+ years now). Passionate about our countryside and heritage, the magazines reflect this interest. Nigel's the Editor of the DEVONSHIRE magazine which he established in 2009 and founder of the innovative HUBCAST event promotion platform which launched in 2011