It’s hasn’t been that long since we last reviewed The Five Bells Inn in Clyst Hydon. We had nothing but praise for the chocolate box pub and it’s seasonal menu last summer. But one year on The Five Bells is under new management and I was eager to discover what its latest owners had in mind for the destination restaurant..
Who are the new owners?
The Five Bells is in capable hands with its brand new custodians James & Charlie. Between them they have years of experience in pub management and business marketing. James has taken his skills across the country, where he has managed pubs for various national brands, before returning to his home roots to run The Five Bells with marketer fiancée Charlotte.
When I asked what changes they were hoping to make to the establishment they assured me that they are in no rush to reinvent The Five Bells from scratch. Instead, they are keen to bring it back in line with the local community, continue to support local suppliers and make their menu more inclusive for their guests. As he was born and bred in Clyst Hydon, James remembers the pub during it’s ‘golden years’ and he and his partner therefore share in their enthusiasm to bring The Five Bells back to the community that made it great in the first place.
James’ first port of call was to reorganise The Five Bells bar and ‘Devon-ize’ what beverages would be on offer. While popular drinks such as Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks Gin will stay on the menu, they also stock a huge range of Devon gins, such as Salcombe Gin and Wicked Wolf.
What about the food?
Head Chef Ian Webber is still at the helm of the Five Bells kitchen, so there’s no threat of the pub losing its foodie reputation anytime soon. However, Ian is working closely with James to tweak the menu a little and bring it back to its pub roots. While they’ve been careful to ensure that guests can enjoy his renowned fine dining dishes on the Specials Menu, the pair have also developed an a la carte pub menu which will feature regularly changing classics such as Venison Cottage Pie and their ever-popular Scotch Egg.
Over lunch I got to sample a delicious starter of plump Roast Scallops with Chicken Veloute, Buttermilk & Sorrel, as well as one of the tastiest mains I’ve tried in a while: Rump and Braised Jacob’s Ladder of Beef, Parsnip, Liquorice & Ale. Since I wasn’t particularly hungry myself, I ordered the Scotch Egg that i’d heard so much about on Twitter. Despite being a starter, they kindly made mine a main course sized portion and served it with triple-cooked chips and a side salad. As expected, this was very tasty indeed – the breadcrumb coating was light and the yolk was perfectly runny.
It is hoped that this simplified, wallet-friendly menu will enable more people to come and enjoy Ian’s fabulous food. It’s clear that James & Charlie are keen to return The Five Bells Inn to the local community, while maintaining the quality of food & drink that has earned it an enviable reputation. Guests are welcome to come and eat in the restaurant or even just enjoy a drink at the bar. So if you’re keen to support a traditional family pub I wholeheartedly recommend you pop by and try their fare for yourself.