Review by Gabriella
Last year The Jack in the Green was voted 26th out of 50 in The UK’s Top 50 Gastro Pubs and they’ve had a great local reputation for some time. So when we found out that they were offering a ‘Totally Devon’ 3 course menu we knew that we had to try it out. Supporting local producers is exactly what our blog is all about and we were keen to see how this popular independent pub would utilise local produce within its kitchens.
When we arrived at The Jack in the Green we were quickly shown to a casual seating area by the bar. Our drink order was promptly taken and we were given the opportunity to peruse the menus. The pub’s commitment to showcasing Devon produce was immediately apparent. You are informed that the Totally Devon Menu (3 courses for £30) was created in order to celebrate local suppliers and that the beef and pork travelled no distance at all, while the chicken and duck are both free range. Pheasant, partridge, pigeon, venison and woodcock all feature on the Specials board when they are at their best and fruits and edible flowers are also sourced from local suppliers. Two of us opted to eat of this impressive selection while one of us (guilty as charged) couldn’t resist the sound of the specials.
Thai Butternut Soup
To start off our meal we were presented with a complimentary espresso cup containing butternut squash soup and a thai curry oil. This was really quite lovely – not too spicy yet with enough of a Thai kick to make it interesting. I’m not usually into my soups but this one was particularly pleasant.
Wood Pigeon Salad, Du Pay Lentils & Ages Balsamic Vinegar
This was a wonderful way to start off my meal. The pigeon was pink and excellently cooked while the balsamic vinegar was tangy and complimented the game well. The cute little quails eggs were just the right amount of runny and the crispy pancetta was divine. For me, this was an ideal autumnal dish and perfectly captured the favours of fall.
Shellfish Risotto, with Dill and Creme Fraiche
Our two Totally Devon diners ordered the seafood risotto to start. This was beautifully cooked and contained some real standout flavours, including fresh crabmeat. Unlike a lot of risotto dishes, there was plenty of seafood and the portion size was just right. Our only minor qualm was the use of rock salt, as both diners thought they had bitten into shell when their first mouthful contained so much crunch!
Braised Pork Belly, Smoked Ham Hock, Pumpkin and Pancetta Arancini
Sadly, while the belly pork was tasty it was slightly overdone and as a result it was a little tough. Likewise the vegetables were also slightly too al dente for this particular diner. This was no doubt intentional on behalf of the chef and admittedly it was just a personal preference.The arancini however was just right and added wonderful, tasty crunch to the dish.
Venison Loin with Chocolate Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
My venison was cooked perfectly – pink and tender – and the chocolate sauce was silky and very complimentary. Again, the potatoes were a tad too al dente but they were certainly flavourful and there was no skimping on portion size. I would say that paying £24 is a little excessive but the dish was very nice and on flavour alone I would order it again.
Devon Lamb, Basil Mash and Seasonal Vegetables
The lamb was arguably the standout dish of our three main courses. I personally don’t eat lamb but I was told that it was tender and well-cooked and the jus was delicious. The mash was creamy and light and the small crispy lamb medallion was very tasty indeed.
Garlic and Herb Brie served with Spiced Apple Compote and Toasts
You can’t really go wrong with a dish like this if you’re a fan of cheese. However, The Jack in the Green’s homemade spiced apple compote was really quite special. It contained a hint of aniseed and went perfectly with the cube of quince jelly. I would be quite happy to sit down and eat this plate of food again and again…
Passionfruit, Coconut and Mango Sorbet & Blueberry Granita
This trio of sorbets – coconut, passionfruit and mango – was quite the picture when it arrived at the table. It was beautifully presented and my dining partner couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Apparently the coconut sorbet was creamy and decadent, while the mango sorbet was fresh and tropical. The passionfruit however was slightly too tart for her tastes.
Overall, the Jack in the Green certainly deserves its foodie reputation. I particularly enjoyed my wood pigeon starter, our mains were largely a success and I would happily buy their spiced apple compote by the bucket full. If I had to express one minor qualm it would be that the staff were almost too efficient at times, and this was slightly to the detriment of making us feel welcome and valued. A little more genuine conversation and a few more smiles would have gone a long way but I want to stress that overall the majority of the staff were polite and friendly.
The Devon Foodie team seriously admires The Jack in the Green’s commitment to local produce and the restaurant certainly seemed to be packed with regulars. £30 for the Totally Devon menu is great value when you consider the portion sizes and the quality of the ingredients on offer. If gastro pubs are your thing then we’d definitely recommend paying a visit.