Seek out seafood suppers, glorious gin and pretty coastal strolls on a foodie staycay | The Sun

AS we pull into pretty Topsham high street and spot several pubs and a cute-looking tearoom, I turn to my partner Steve and say: “I’m starving!”

Which is just as well, because we’re in Devon for the Taste East Devon Festival, where every September local gastro pubs, restaurants, hotels and producers host special events, from wine tastings to behind-the-scenes tours.

Top of the pops

Our first stop is The Salutation Inn in Topsham, an 18th-century building housing a restaurant with rooms, just a few miles from Exeter.

Our huge room has sash windows with cute seats, a gorgeous fireplace and a massive bed.

Owners Tom and Amelia specialise in fish – The Salutation even has its own fish deli next door – and for dinner we tuck into the Seafood Supper tasting menu the restaurant is offering as part of the festival.

After a glass of local sparkling wine, we’re treated to Porlock Bay oysters, lobster and salmon tortellini, moules marinière and wild sea bass with clams from the county’s River Teign.


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We finish with Devon clotted cream parfait – and a huge smile on our faces.

Yes, the five-course menu costs £80 each, but it’s the bar we now measure every fish dish against (nothing has quite hit the same high since, sadly).

Double rooms cost £128 B&B (

The next morning, after a breakfast of local sausages and bacon, we wander along the Goat Walk – which boasts amazing views of Topsham’s picture-perfect estuary out into the River Exe – before joining a guided tour of the kitchen gardens at The Pig-at Combe hotel in Honiton, 30 minutes’ drive away.

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The plot is bursting with green, leafy veg and fragrant herbs, sweet berries and edible flowers, and our experience ends with wood-fired flatbreads and refreshing elderflower cordial.

Tours cost £20 per person (

Not far away is Lyme Bay Winery, which is offering a wine and cheese pairing class.

We sip on a white, rosé, sparkling and a very drinkable pinot noir that goes down a treat with the goat’s cheese produced by Quicke’s just down the road.

Tastings cost £10 per person ( 

Vitamin Sea

Soon the sea is calling us, so we make our way to Salcombe, in the south of the county.

It’s the perfect mix of pretty harbour and cute-as high street.

After shopping at the original Jack Wills store, we browse homeware hot spots Bert & Buoy ( and Love The Sea ( for gorgeous coastal finds.

For a room with a view, we check into Salcombe Harbour Beach Club.

Opened in 2021, this sleek hotel has a chic spa and indoor pool and serves up a breakfast with its own (more delicious) take on a Maccy D’s sausage and egg muffin.

Plus there’s complimentary gin and tonic on arrival in your room and a takeaway coffee when you leave.

Double rooms cost from £259 B&B (

Talking of G&Ts, the town is home to Salcombe Gin.

Before we get hands-on meeting Provident, its impressive copper still in the distillery, we’re welcomed with a refreshing glass of the company’s Start Point gin.

Then, once we’ve learned about the process and the botanicals, herbs and spices, we sip the limited-edition Voyager series that’s made with input from top chefs, including Paul Ainsworth.

A tour and tutored tasting costs £50 per person (

Born to rum

For our final sleepover, we drive 40 minutes inland to Turtley Corn Mill.

This super-quaint pub in the South Hams has six stylishly decorated super-king rooms (which come complete with Alexa), and two new lakeside lodges.

They serve up pub classics done brilliantly, like haddock and chips, £21, and the menu even tells you what boat the fish was caught on!

Come morning, after a stroll around the beautiful lake and a marvel at the peacocks (we’re lucky enough to see the peahens with their super-cute peachicks), we tuck into the most delicious full English.

Rooms cost from £170 (

We manage to fit in one last tasting – this time at Hattiers Rum in Holbeton.

Here, owner Philip tells us how he has hand-sourced rums from Australia to Jamaica to blend for his lip-smackingly tasty range.

Sadly, Steve is driving, so I “help” him with his tastings…

A 90-minute tour costs £20 per person (

As we begin the drive home, the car feels heavier – but we decide to put it down to all the souvenirs we’ve bought, rather than the extra stone we have most likely gained on our trip! 

Darts Farm, Topsham

Leave a whole morning to explore this food and drink mecca.

It boasts a huge farm shop full of delicious pork pies and cheese, as well as local tipples like Cove vodka and Sandford cider.

And make sure you nab some beautiful chocs made by chocolatier Louise from the Cow & Cacao cafe before you leave (

Jack In The Green, Rockbeare

In this epic gastro pub, expect the likes of deliciously oozy handmade Scotch egg, venison and celeriac cottage pie and to-die-for local blueberry and cassis cheesecake.

Three courses cost around £35 ( 

Salcombe Brewing Co, Salcombe

Book a 90-minute tour of this brewery, which includes a flight of beers.

It’s awe-inspiring to stand next to the huge fermenting vats and there’s free-flowing booze in the tap room afterwards – we particularly enjoyed the pilsner and the Island Street Porter (hic!).

Tours cost £20 per person (

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This year, the Taste East Devon Festival runs September 9-24.

For a list of 2023 events and prices, and to book your tickets, visit

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