The King's Arms, Chapel Street, Georgeham, Devon

Amol Rajan seeks out a treasure of a village pub in the South-West.

There are many villages in the South-West of England that qualify for membership of that bloated category of the "foodie destination". Georgeham in Devon is not one of them. Let that not put you off visiting, however, because a lovelier spot when the sun's out could barely be imagined.

Located on the North Devon coast, it's just past a place called Croyde, which may sound like one of the departments in hell, but is in fact full of gorse and thatched houses. You get to these villages via Barnstaple, where a new bypass – big news in the South-West, bypasses – has cut a good 45 minutes out of the journey time from anywhere south or east. Georgeham has a beautiful church, summer festivals, a glorious beach where the surfing is good three minutes away, and two pubs.

The Rock Inn does very good local ales for less than £3, and mixed food – as in mixed quality. Charlie, my fiancée, has an excellent cod and chips (£9.50) with Tribute-flavoured batter, mushy peas and salad. But my mixed deli board – hummus, smoked mackerel, chorizo, anchovies, cockles, Parma ham and red-onion jam (£12.95) – is mundane and mediocre. Rather than for the food, go to the Rock Inn with a bunch of newspapers and a beer belly that has been neglected.

The King's Arms, less than 100 metres away, is packed. This means you have to book, which some of you may consider an encumbrance. On the successive weekends I visit, the place is heaving, full of locals joshing and joking, bashing half-empty jars against each other. Rightly realised, village pubs are community banks where the precious moral savings of our neighbourhoods are stored; and this one is, in the jargon, very well capitalised. Plus, the food's not bad at all.

We have come for the annual seafood festival. There is a mixed seafood platter for £22 and large parts of it are delicious: the warm, salty cockles in a buttery sauce; firm and fresh prawns satay-style; crab claws, clams, and mussels; succulent langoustine and excellent aioli with lemon, salad and bread. The only weak points are the squid, which is so rubbery that it tastes more of rubber than cephalopod; and some John Dory fillets, which are a little dry.

I could well imagine some locals, and indeed tourists, spending an evening picking away at that selection, washing it down with the superb local ales, or something from the very decent-value wine list, and leaving nourished and happy. But it's worth sticking around to try some of the other stuff.

While the moules marinière (£11.50), are nothing particular to write home about, being totally inoffensive (except for the shortage of shallots: I'd like double the number next time, please), a Devon crab linguini with chilli, ginger, coriander and garlic (£12.50) has a Thai twang, more Bangkok than Barnstaple, and is very good. The best thing on the menu, meanwhile, is an exquisite giant sea bass on a big platter, which comes apart in chunks that are moist and full of flavour.

You can, naturally, get burgers here, too, though I confess I don't try them, because I'm too busy being distracted by a marvellous, rich and not-bad-value classic Provençal fish soup (£6.50).

All the staples of your average pub dessert menu are available to finish off. The chocolate fondant with pistachio biscotti and vanilla ice-cream (£6.25) is perfectly cooked, and the sticky-toffee pudding with caramel sauce and clotted cream (£5.75) is worth the heart attack that will probably follow. Indeed, I'm surprised not to be writing this from hospital.

The thing about "foodie destinations" is that they quickly dissolve into cliché. And just as all clichés contain an element of truth, so the likes of Padstow and Ludlow – fellow western hotspots – are definitely worth visiting for the excellent grub on offer. Georgeham, on the other hand, is a wonderful destination where you can get sturdy, uncomplaining, Anglo-Saxon food, rather than a "foodie destination". You ought to visit for the wildlife and the sea rather than the food; but when the time comes to eat, drink and be merry, make sure you do it in the King's Arms.

Rating: 7/10

The King's Arms, Chapel Street, Georgeham, Devon, tel: 01271 890 240. £75 for two, including bottle of wine

Three more great village pubs

The Feathered Nest Inn

This off-the-beaten-track inn offers superb, inventive food and excellent wines in a stunning Cotswold setting. Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire, tel: 01993 833 030

The Parkers Arms

This very friendly country pub's locally sourced food is of unbelievable quality. Newton- in-Bowland, near Clitheroe, Lancashire, tel: 01200 446 236

Black Swan

This snug gastropub near Byland Abbey offers immaculately presented food without fuss or pretension. Oldstead, North Yorkshire, tel: 01347 868 387

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2013', www.hardens.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas