Review: The Candlelight Inn, Bishopswood

PUBLISHED: 14:38 14 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 14 January 2019

The Candlelight Inn (c) Rob Coombe

The Candlelight Inn (c) Rob Coombe

Matt Austin images

Jane Clark discovers cool style, quirky tradition and a surprise veg offering at The Candlelight Inn

What a name! The Candlelight Inn? Rural pub or posh white-clothed restaurant? The name confuses and yet, actually, really is a clue to the fascination of this place. The Candlelight Inn can claim, legitimately, to either title.

Using sat nav, I arrived at around 7pm. The pub stands behind a good-sized car park, proudly, and rather quaintly, marked by the huge tree at the front; its trunk wrapped in a string of lights. The entrance is a wide and welcoming old pub door which leads into a jolly ‘local’.

On the way in, I passed an open-booted hatchback displaying boxes of fresh veg and preserves. Before I could order a drink, I was asked if I wanted anything from ‘the van’? On a busy Friday night’s service, this place was also offering local veg and homemade jams. While trawling the pub for customers, ‘the greengrocer’ was enjoying a pint and if a customer came his way, well, all the better.

As I ordered a home-distilled Beau gin (named after the pub’s Irish setter), I got chatting to another local having a pint; he was waiting to pick up his wife’s dessert. The couple had eaten dinner at home but, by quirky tradition, her husband had been sent to the pub for a drink while picking up a rather top-end dessert.

Run by Mike and Simon, ex bankers both and two years in this area, this is actually a smart wine bar, lovingly wrapped around a functioning and friendly pub. The urbane and slick furnishings are softened by vernacular settles and church chairs.

The menu reflects this two-pronged approach - local but a bit sophis! Beau gin-cured salmon or seared Lyme Bay scallops or roasted sardines with green chilli dressing and crispy mussels for starters. For mains: roasted Cornish red mullet with pesto and lemon oil, or parmesan with roasted garlic and tarragon polenta, to name but a few. I chose the vegetarian option and my guest a fillet of beef; the best she had ever eaten, she said.

The food is imaginative and well presented. It is priced around £6/7 for starters, £18/19 for main courses. The desserts are larger than I was expecting and I wished I had left more room for my stewed plum and vanilla custard meringue.

In addition to the swanky wine bar, pub, veg stall and takeaway vibe, The Candlelight Inn also hosts live jazz sessions, pub quizzes, fish and chip takeaways (or eat in) every Wednesday as well as regular ‘supper club’ nights for the more discerning.

Visit the Candlelight Inn website here.

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