Review: Woods Bar and Restaurant in Dulverton

PUBLISHED: 12:11 30 April 2019

Woods Bar and Restaurant, Dulverton

Woods Bar and Restaurant, Dulverton


It’s not just the wine, everything about Woods in Dulverton shows this is a winner, says Catherine Courtenay

Is it even possible to win the Good Pub Guide's National Wine Pub of the Year accolade for eight years running?

It seems it is and step inside Woods Bar and Restaurant in Dulverton and you'll find the certificated evidence of this exceptional success, and more, hanging up on every available bit of wall space.

They do wine well here, very well. But it's not just wine. Wherever you choose to sit in this cosy pub-style restaurant your eyes will be drawn to the bar; at one end, up by the log fire, it's an Aladdin's cave of bottles, all sorts of things. What fun to be a local, popping in every now and then for a new taster.

An Exmoor institution, Woods is in a street up near the church in the heart of Dulverton. It has the look and feel of a community pub, helped by landlord Paddy Groves who not only loves wine but also has his own farm, from which much of the produce is brought in. He has a happy team, the welcome is warm and genuine when you arrive, and the small kitchen team led by Ed Heard has been together for a good few years too – unusual in the catering world where it's often hard to keep up with the constant chef changes. This permanence probably explains the happy atmosphere and they are onto a winner too with the food.

At lunchtime there's a pleasing mix on offer from traditional pub meals to more nuanced and inventive dishes. There's flair and individuality with every option, nothing is bog standard. The burger is pheasant and bacon, there's a crayfish baguette and an omelette with watercress pesto. There's a dish of gravadlax and smoked eel with pickled compressed apple, horseradish and herring roe on the starters choice, but also a goats cheese mousse, creamy yet light as a feather, the zappy addition of tomato chutney, cool celery and salty olive makes it divine.

Mains include beer battered cod with chunky chips and a seared steak option with bacon and red onion salad. For veggies, there's a wild mushroom tagliatelle with truffle oil and rocket, the quality of which yet again reveals the talent in the kitchen.

As for dessert, the blood orange tart with biscotti biscuit and chocolate ice cream was heavenly.

Everyone seems to love Woods, whether they're out for a special occasion or just popping in after walking the dog. Sit for a while and savour the atmosphere and you'll soon be joining its list of fans.

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