But The Jack in the Green in Rockbeare near Exeter actually delivers much more than that and in the 2010 UK National Restaurant Awards it came 52nd, so beating other renowned pub-restaurants like The Hinds Head (ranked 69th) and a host of Michelin starred establishments. It doesn't (yet?) have its own Michelin star but it does have 2 AA rosettes, and more than anything else, they seem to focus on delivering the best experience for you as the customer. We really liked their genuine friendliness.
There's a lot going on with the menu at The Jack in the Green: there's a tasting menu, an a la carte menu, a vegetarian menu, a children's menu, a bar menu and a 'totally Devon' option using only Devonshire ingredients. As well as suiting all tastes, it's also likely to suit all pockets. Sitting down at the table, there's already a jug of ice water waiting, a nice and all too rare touch.
The tasting menu at six or so courses looks good without being daunting. An amuse of celeriac soup is first while the opening menu course is Slow braised 'Kenniford Farm' pork belly with ham hock and piccalilli. Our first surprise is just how nicely this has been plated. We've recently evoked some discussion in this blog about how important it is for food to be well presented on the plate, or whether, as some suggest, 'it's not how it looks it's how it tastes'. We do think plating is important and at The Jack in the Green, across all courses, the plating was exemplary and we struggle to think of a pub where we have ever eaten that so carefully plates its food.
Halibut gravadlax with fennel, cucumber and dill follows. The cured halibut tastes wonderful such that the fennel and cucumber possibly detract from such excellent fish. The main course is lamb with chorizo, wild asparagus and a risotto ball. It's a nice main using local ingredients though the risotto ball seems more of a rice ball only and is also a touch dry.
The Creamed Vulscombe goats cheese and homemade gingerbread is next and again, surprises and delights on appearance. It's an original take with the gingerbread sprinkled down the length of the goats cheese, all to great effect. You'd be pressed to guess that this was being served up in a British pub, it's first class.
Finally it's Rhubarb and custard which they already 'warn' you on the menu that it is 'not what you are expecting'. Almost getting used to that now. It is in fact rhubarb done in a variety of ways including poached, puree and sorbet, the custard meanwhile is a custard tart. Nicely done.
It's also a very generous pub, in every way. Our visit to The Jack in the Green arose because they donated a table to the Action Against Hunger Christmas auction. Several members of staff ran the London Marathon for the pub's chosen charity (Wooden Spoon) and the pub also lays on charity events and evenings and in doing so has raised many thousands of pounds. The Wooden Spoon charity, in their own words 'exists to improve the quality and prospect of life for children and young people who are disadvantaged physically, mentally or socially'. Click on the link to find out more about Wooden Spoon. So as well as good food and good service, it's a pub with real heart.
Overall then, The Jack in the Green is a great British pub offering great value but quality cooking and is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.
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