With dramatic coastlines, lush countryside and wild moorland sitting cheek by jowl, Devon is rightly recognised for its picture-postcard good looks. Add the county’s world-class produce and a liberal sprinkling of talented chefs and you get a dining experience like no other. Clare Hunt discovers restaurants that will be a treat for your eyes, as well as your palate.

Gidleigh Park

Set on the upper reaches of the River Teign, Gidleigh Park has it all sewn up as far as luxe surroundings in an unrivalled location goes. Regarded as one of Devon’s most refined dining experiences, Gidleigh Park sits against a wooded backdrop, with views of the hotel’s just-the-right-side-of-manicured gardens. Their executive chef, Chris Simpson, uses local and seasonal produce to create elegant but unpretentious dishes.

Cary Arms & Spa

With its back to a wooded hillside and its face looking out to sea, it’s all about the shore at the Cary Arms. Expansive views skim round the Jurassic Coast and a few steps take you to Babbacombe Beach. Eat outside on the terrace or feel like the king of the castle from the elevated vantage point of the Captain’s Table. Hearty gastro-pub favourites are produced with excellent local ingredients.

Lympstone Manor

One of Devon’s hottest dining tickets, with respected chef Michael Caines at the helm, Lympstone Manor marries elegant dining with a rather splendid location. The three dining rooms have breathtaking views of the Exe Estuary and along to Lyme Bay. As you’d expect from Michael Caines, the food is creative, but always respectful of its quality ingredients. Take afternoon tea on the terrace as you watch the boats bob in the estuary.

The Rugglestone Inn

Found on the outskirts of the Dartmoor village of Widecombe in the Moor, The Rugglestone Inn has nailed all of the elements required for an idyllic country pub. Traditional building? Check. Open fire? Check. Babbling brook? Check. Add to that a special location where fields meet moorland, throw in substantial, pubby food, and you’ve got just what’s required before you head out for a yomp across Dartmoor. Or you could soak up the views from the garden, and maybe have another pint.

Gara Rock

Set on the shore above a tiny, sheltered beach, the new-look Gara Rock opens this summer with ambitions of making its mark as one of Devon’s go-to boutique retreats. As far as locations go, it’s not a bad one. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room are designed to make the most of views across the English Channel, along the craggy coastline and down to the unspoilt South Hams sands of Gara Rock beach. The menu promises to be built around seasonality and collaboration with local suppliers.

Salcombe Harbour Hotel 

Overlooking the estuary, with a number of outdoor terraces for dining, this Hotel’s stylish restaurant, The Jetty, takes full advantage of its waterfront location.

Award-winning chef, Alex Aitken, creates enticing menus, serving local and seasonal dishes. With fish landed daily and a local larder of delicious seasonal produce on its doorstep, the kitchen team combines its knowledge and passion for local ingredients, to create outstanding seasonal food.

Breakwater Bistro

This Brixham restaurant has panoramic sea views of Torbay. Just a couple of metres away from the shore, this family-run bistro offers a friendly service and atmosphere, and a tempting selection of local produce and drink.

A menu that changes seasonally, it takes its food provenance seriously with local ingredients being used in many dishes. Everyone is very welcome - even the (well-behaved dog)! Evening dining has a different atmosphere from that during the daytime: relaxed, yet intimate - another opportunity to soak up those sea views!

breakwater bistro, on the beach in Brixham

The Quay Restaurant

It’s rare to find sea and harbour views vying for attention with the work of a provocative contemporary artist, so The Quay in Ilfracombe has a pretty unique proposition. Interiors are replete with the work of Damien Hirst and you can watch the activity in the harbour or take in views out to sea as you enjoy classic British and European dishes.

the view from The Quay, Ilfracombe

Cottage Hotel

The Cottage Hotel has beautiful views of the coastline from its position above Hope Cove. Comfortable lounges, sweeping views from the sun terraces, and with fresh, local produce used in the menus, this family-run business prides itself in both its cooking and hospitality. 

It serves a traditional English Breakfast, a Table d’Hôte Dinner, as well as a supplementary, seasonal menu. Specialities include locally-caught crab, lobster dishes and delicacies created by the pastry chef.

Two Bridges Hotel

The Two Bridges Hotel is found properly in the heart of Dartmoor. It’s set on the banks of the West Dart river, with moorland stretching off in all directions. From the dining room, you can look down to the river and one of the bridges for which the hotel was named. The cream of produce from local farmers is given a creative twist and ales are brewed nearby at Princetown’s Dartmoor Brewery.

Enjoy views of moorland and the West Dart River from the Two Bridges Hotel

Burgh Island Hotel

An iconic Art Deco landmark, Burgh Island Hotel evokes all the glamour of the Jazz Age from its unique location on a private tidal island. There are lots of dining options here, and all of them combine delicious food with expansive views of the windswept sands of Bigbury and Bantham beaches. Go black-tie formal in the ballroom, enjoy a cocktail in the Palm Court Bar, or soak up the seaside as you enjoy a cream tea on the terrace.

The view from Burgh Island hotel

Clare Hunt

Published 25 June 2018

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