The Chichester Arms is all about good food and lots of it, and with a friendly pub atmosphere too. They might even do the best steak in North Devon.
Why it’s on my list
A friend was organising dinner out for our group of friends and recommended The Chichester Arms, also known as the Chich. We’ve been looking for a pub to add to our list of regular eateries, and my friend said good things about the Chich, highlighting the large portion size of her steak and ale pie. Pub grub? Large portions? I was sold!
Location: The Square, Bishops Tawton
Opening times: Open everyday from noon-11pm
To book: call 01271 343945. It does get busy, so booking is recommended.
My friend was spot on when she said the portions were large. Not only were they large, they were also delicious – it might just be the best steak in North Devon! Being a short drive from Barnstaple, this could become our go-to pub lunch location.
What I had
I ordered the 10oz sirloin steak, with a diane sauce as an extra. This was served with peas, onions, mushrooms, grilled tomato, salad, coleslaw and chunky chips.
The steak dinner was so tasty, every bite was a delight and I certainly took my time over it all. It’s not a dinner to be eaten in a rush; it’s a sit-back-and-relax pub meal, with the sheer amount of sides providing lots of different flavours and textures. In fact, the steak had to sit on top of some of the chips because there was so much on the plate.
For dessert I shared a slice of Daim bar pie, which turned out to be a wise move. After that main course I could not have managed a dessert all to myself, but was persuaded to share a slice of pie.
When it arrived it was huge and delicious – the chocolate mousse was quite light on top of a crunchy biscuit base, with bits of Daim bar and chocolate shards scattered all over. It was a challenge between two of us, and my friend who had one to himself ended up taking some home. Excellent choice I think!
The steak was good and cooked perfectly, but the sides were the real star of the show. Chips are a treat for me now, and these were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside – perfect. The onions, tomato, mushrooms and peas were seasoned well, flavoured with thyme in the case of the tomato, and I expect butter had a part to play in making them all taste so good.
Not the best
We sat in the main bar area, which you walk into immediately. We met up just before Christmas, so understandably it was packed full of very merry people. We were of course merry ourselves, and we had no problem with how busy or noisy it was, but I know it’s not for everyone. So it’s not the kind of place I would take my nan, unless I could guarantee a table in the restaurant area at the back, which looked quieter.
Thatched roof, rustic tables, low ceilings, menus on blackboards, a little alcove with some comfy cushions in – it was certainly a pub! Unfortunately the Chich suffered a bad fire in 2005 (which you can read all about in the loos), so has undergone some extensive rebuilding, but it has maintained its country pub charm very well.
Split dessert – or ask to take away what you can’t fit in!