And so to a pub called the King’s Arms in a village, next to Slapton Sands, called Strete. Meandering along this stretch of coast is like leafing through my lever arch file from my pre-GCSE geography lessons. Spits, spurs, tombolas and stacks whizzed past. I’d never really thought about these features as being anything more than just diagrams! And now I see what all the fuss is about. The scenery was breathtaking.
Our BnB, proudly displaying its Silver Award like a goodie twoshoes school boy wears his prefect badge, was a delight. It was hard to believe that our room was actually the loft on top of a garage. The view, overlooking this sensational stretch of coast, was awesome. Cows sloped past our balcony as if they had been told to frame our view.
We dashed down to the headland to soak in the remnants of the day’s sunshine and found ourselves lost for words by the beauty that surrounded us. We nestled down in the sheep grazed grass overlooking the twinkling bay and opened a bottle of chilled white wine, hit play on itunes and felt all the stresses of the world dissolve. Cheesy as it sounds, it was one of life’s perfect moments.
We floated along to the King’s Arms in a blissful trance that didn’t disappear for the whole meal. The site of Diana Henry’s book on the side was a subtle indication that we were in for a memorable meal.
Cowie’s fish soup was deep, textured and gutsy. As masculine as the Gurnard’s Head version had been feminine. It was the first of many confirmations that the King’s Head has a wizzard's touch with fish.
My herring roe looked horrific. Like small grey calves tounges or ash coloured giant snails. They’d not only fallen out of the ugly tree but clattered into every branch and twig on the way down. And then been snotted on. However, they were as ugly as they were delicious. They swam around in garlic, parsley and lemon butter which oozed out of my lightly charred toast. Dare I say they are they best thing I’ve eaten this year?
Cowie’s skate with brown caper butter was everything that Sam’s wasn’t. It was perfectly cooked allowing Cowie to tease strands of flesh of like a child dissecting a cheese straw. The butter had been treated perfectly by a kitchen that could knock this dish out in its sleep.
My lemon sole in a lime butter was quite unusual. The skin was gently charred and the flesh was perfectly moist. The sauce balanced the acidity of the lime with a touch of syrupy sweetness. I had worried the cooked lime may have become bitter, as it often does, but it had been handled by a pro and added late in the cooking.
We swooned throughout and left on the same cloud that carried us in singing the praises of such a first rate pub. It deserves all the praise it gets. Just don’t listen to a word of the drivel that the gaunt lady next to us was spewing about the lighting and the décor. When the food’s this good it’s worth travelling a long way for.
On our walk home we stumbled across the Laughing Monk which was alive with gregarious diners. If you’re in Strete for two days, it might be worth checking out.
This is part of a series about our trip around the South West.