Redwing Bar & Dining, Church Road, Lympstone, Exmouth, Devon

Does Redwing have what it takes to be the restaurant Lympstone needs?

For those of us who don't live in Devon, the name Lympstone, if we've heard of it, is synonymous with the Royal Marines. The nearby Commando Training Centre can boast international renown; but that it should forever associate Lympstone with human killing machines must be a matter of regret to at least some of the locals in this gloriously bucolic civil parish on the eastern coast of the Exe Estuary.

There is a church tower, built in 1409, and a waterfront and harbour that bear the heavy imprint of a once-thriving maritime industry and constant fear of flood waters. Fishing – for cod, salmon, and mackerel mostly – and ship-building used to provide the income for most of the residents, who even now number fewer than 2,000. That economy is mostly gone. Now most of the jobs lie to the north, in the swelling belly of Exeter.

What's been left in Lympstone is a quaint, becalmed village stalked by the ghosts of glories past. This quietude and heritage have yet to make it a fashionable destination in the manner of, for instance, Padstow – which is much bigger – or Port Isaac – which isn't, but received an extended visit from Martin Clunes in Doc Martin, after which locals complained the show was ruining their home. Short of getting Clunes and his crew to relocate, perhaps the only sure way to make Lympstone the tourist redoubt it deserves to be is the installation of a fine restaurant.

Redwing Bar & Dining is nearly it, and certainly could be fully it soon.

Barely a year old, the clue is in the name: this is not just a pub you can eat in, but two quite distinct entities. In the front is a local bar, with local people; further back is a restaurant full of foreigners such as me. And full it is: on this, a pre-school-holidays Saturday night, there aren't too many spaces going. A chasm seems to separate the locals from the foreigners, in comportment and clothing as well as distance. They don't mix at all.

There is an extremely charming maître d', and an extended menu and specials board that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the menu on the website. The seared scallop and smoked salmon with a caper-and-parsley dressing is good but not worth £9.95. The deep-fried poached egg with asparagus and black pudding salad, at £7.25, is infinitely better: the sunset-coloured yolk has an ideal consistency, and the black pudding is suitably salty in a well-dressed salad.

I'm afraid my bugbear of "seasonal vegetables" – a ubiquitous euphemism for flavourless, boiled vegetables that are knocked off without a hint of fanfare – appears with terrible regularity alongside the main courses here. I know a lot of English people like inoffensive vegetables on a plate, but I don't. This Indian palate wants offensive vegetables, in the sense of being on the attack, and finds what one local critic calls "the comfort of bland" offensive, in the sense of please don't say that again.

Such flavourless friends accompany, among others, the grilled lemon sole (£15.95). This European flatfish is always a prickly customer, and here it has a strong acidic flavour and so many tiny bones that eating it involves an archaeological journey of discovery.

The honey-glazed duck breast (£17.50) is, by contrast, exquisite: tender and moist with a rich plum sauce. There is an excellent Pinot Noir for £18.95 on a solid wine menu divided by type ("dry, delicate white", "spicy, peppery, warming red") and the desserts, which are superb, include a lemon tart (£5.95) and a crème brûlée (£6) whose glazed surface is very deep and fun to crack.

I know it's expensive to do, but before Redwing becomes famous it could do with a refurb. A discomfiting zebra-print furnishing and moody burgundy and turf-green fabrics dominate the interior. To look at zebra print when you're eating is bad enough; but when you're drinking it basically induces nausea. Aside from being a distraction from a very competently executed menu, in a rather lovely setting, it jars with the local vibe.

But get that refurb done, keep this kitchen going, retain the charming staff, who have a sense of humour and know the virtue of leaving diners alone when you can sense that's what they want, and Lympstone could yet be flooded with tourists rather than estuary water. All it needs is a visit from Martin Clunes.


Redwing Bar & Dining, Church Road, Lympstone, Exmouth, Devon, tel: 01395 222 156 Lunch and dinner daily; £80 for two with a bottle of wine

Village pubs

The Taverners

High Street, Godshill, Isle of Wight, tel: 01983 840 707

A homely and welcoming pub in a touristy village is just the first reason to seek this out. Its delicious and innovative fare provide the rest

The Pipe & Glass Inn

West End, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire, tel: 01430 810246

The brilliant food at James and Kate Mackenzie's operation in a pretty village has rightly won acclaim; equally as good for a ploughman's lunch as a special dinner

The Sun Inn

High Street, Dedham, Essex, tel: 01206 323 351

Memorable Italian fare at this beautiful old pub that's also of some note as a key Constable Country destination

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game