The Five Bells in Clyst Hydon is making waves on the West Country scene as one of the few places around where you can order a full three-course vegan menu that changes on the regular.
Since our last visit, The Five Bell’s has recruited a new female Head Chef, Charlotte Vincent. Charlotte joins the pub after an impressive 20-year career in catering, that has included a decade as a pastry chef at both Gidleigh Park and the Royal Clarence Hotel. Returning to her roots in the small rural community, Charlotte is determined to prove that women can not only succeed as Head Chefs but also excel at what they love.
Charlotte brings a wealth of experience to the Five Bell’s kitchen team, but where she really demonstrates her skil is in her ability to innovate. Under her direction, the pub now offers a varied menu containing many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, as well as the usual pub classics that we all know and love. Keen to see what she’s doing differently, The Devon Foodie team popped into the pub on a sunny Wednesday lunchtime to sample one of their new vegan three-course lunches…
Beetroot Textures with Pickled, Roasted and Raw Beetroot, Fennel Salt, Radish, Blackberry Purée, Lemon Balm.
Our first course was a very pretty starter that is proving to be extremely popular with customers (both vegan and carnivorous alike). The plate featured several different textures of beetroot, displaying an impressive degree of skill. The dish was first designed by their Chef de Partie, Joel, who has been with the pub for around a year as an apprentice and is really excelling under Charlotte’s mentorship.
We were told that many of the dishes on the vegan menu can be presented differently each time you order them. That’s because they’re naturally quite colourful and the presentation depends on which chef is creating the course for you. Each of The Five Bells chefs has a natural talent and flair for presentation, so they each like to give the plate of food their own unique twist.
Roasted Enoki Mushrooms with Pea, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Ballantine, Sage Velouté, Cavolo Nero
Our main course was a delicious mix of vegan ingredients which were once again uniquely presented. Unlike many meat-heavy main courses, this dish left me feeling pleasantly full but with enough room left for dessert!
Poached Apple with Apple Sorbet, Mixed Berry Compote, Burnt Apple Puree, Almond Crumb
For pudding, we opted for a late summer dish of poached apples with a mixed berry compote and a lovely almond crumb. The plate was elegantly presented – as we had come to expect – and was just the right size to finish off a three-course lunch.
I’ve experienced lunch at The Five Bells in Clyst Hydon a number of times now, with each occasion showcasing the talent of a different chef. On this visit, I could really sense a positive change of direction for the pub and I’m excited to see where Charlotte takes her kitchen team. It is undeniable that vegan food is growing in popularity and it’s great to know that even a charming little thatched pub such as this is embracing positive change. While no one is expecting to go meat-free overnight, I think it’s wonderful that Charlotte is able to cater for a growing demographic and I would definitely recommend booking a table if you’re after vegan food that doesn’t compromise on flavour or variety.
To book a table, call 01884 277288