Pubs may be closing by the dozen across Britain, but what sometimes gets forgotten is that many of them re-open, often as greatly enhanced incarnations of their former selves, and South Devon’s Salutation Inn is just such a place: a 17th-century pub that had hit hard times and was taken over and reopened as a restaurant with rooms – some might say fulfilling its original remit as a country inn, offering weary travellers shelter for the night along with a morsel of food and sustenance.
We reckon they're right on the money with the shelter bit, with four bright, spacious rooms and two suites, all turned out in crisp white tones, very comfortable beds and en-suite bathrooms with upscale toiletries. Service is excellent and Topsham is a lovely place to stay, handy both for Exeter and the coast at Exmouth, though it’s perhaps the fine dining restaurant that is the biggest draw, with local chef Tom Williams-Hawkes using everything he learned under Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park to create a menu that's both refined and tasty, and makes the most of the fantastic produce that's available on the doorstep. There is a choice of three tasting menus, which change weekly, ranging from four to six to eight courses, and prices are reasonable considering the quality of the food.
If you can't stretch to the restaurant, just enjoy breakfast or a cream tea in the Glasshouse café, whose pastries and cakes are sublime – and as great an advertisement for the half- and one-day patisserie courses they run here as they could wish for. The café also serves decent roasts on Sunday lunchtimes.
Cool Places is a new website from the creators of Rough Guides and Cool Camping, suggesting the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop in Britain (coolplaces.co.uk).
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