Eat out! Where to scoff and quaff outdoors this winter
Oh, the weather outside is frightful but the heated marquee's delightful! Grab your thermals and five of your best pals for outdoor cocktails galore.
Oak beams, fairy lights, heaters and comfy chairs and all in an 18th century pub courtyard. What more do you need? Okay, I’ll throw in the Agricultural Inn’s legendary grill and pub classics, and a mug of mulled wine because I like you. Book it up on 01392 840043.
Book in for pizza or a burger in Cott Inn’s heated marquee sitting pretty at one of the oldest thatched pubs in the land. They’ve even put up a Christmas tree outside but don’t let that stop you nipping in to check out their seasonal insta-worthy windowsill arrangements, always worth a snap when you’re popping in to the loo.
Muddy’s hearing good things about The Ley Arms having transformed their top garden into a secret garden with heated marquees. The food and service is always good here and Friday night is steak night (two local Kenn Valley/Dartmoor steaks and a bottle of wine for £40). Book in for their Christmas special or their New Year’s Eve Gourmet Night. Or both. Call 01392 832341 or book online.
Loved by in-the-know locals who flock to this family-run pub for the friendly welcome and the home-cooked menu, including regularly booked-out Sunday roasts and Wednesday burger night. Plus, there’s a cosy covered area and the cool crowd. Muddy’s keen to road-test their version of the traditional Irish coffee, the Mrs P (pictured): a double shot of espresso with a double shot of Baileys. Gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
Knock back a craft beer or two at this award-winning family-run brewery, where you can enjoy rustic comfort food, including burgers, Mexican and seafood, as well as kid-friendly and vegan options at their outdoor Beer Factory & Kitchen from Tuesday to Saturday nights. There’s no indoor dining currently but do pop in to visit the Christmas market or just grab a takeaway if you fancy. Book here.
Grab a perch at this local gem on the Exe Valley Trail. Highly rated by those in the know for its friendly service and local menu, including English Shoreline from Lyme Bay. Plus, there’s Covid-safeness galore with their cosy new outdoor heated and covered space where you can book in for mixed households. Book here.
Picture-postcard pretty on the banks of the beautiful River Yealm, last time I was here they were putting up the fairy lights and prepping their Christmas specials, including their yummy hot marguerita. Their support-local Christmas Market is this Saturday 19 Dec from 10am, where you can sip a mulled wine and listen to carols by the tree. And yes, you will be scrolling Rightmove to check out property prices round here and yes, you will need a stiff drink after you see them. Better get another round in.
Hurray, a trendy refuge from the Christmas shopping schlep! Muddy’s all a-quiver at the sight of Lloyds Lounge’ festive chalets, slap-bang in the centre of Exeter shopping hub and available for up to six people (in the same household/bubble but they can book you two chalets next to each other if you come with another household). They come complete with with faux fur blankets, twinkling lights and a Slade-free Bluetooth setup ready to play your own music. Lunch slots are Sunday to Weds, evening slots are Thursday to Saturday for 4 guests minimum up to 6 max (minimum spend of £90 per chalet). And the chalets are up till March 2021. Whoop-la!
Another city-centre winner worth a mention is the outdoor terrace at Exeter Phoenix, now transformed into a cosy winter wonderland with a marquee covering, infrared heaters and festive decs. Snaffle your spot on 01392 667062.
One for wine lovers, Honky Tonk have put up a marquee on their front terrace where you can sup with five of your bezzies while feasting on their excellent choice of over 100 curated wines (yep, mulled too) and their delicious Christmas sharing platters made in-house by Fitz and Donny, including pigs in blankets, artisan cheeses and cranberry-stuffed camembert. Save a space for me.
This brilliantly located Hall & Woodhouse have created a ‘pubble’ for your bubble with a mini outdoor bar with covered seating, where you can tuck into a mulled wine or cider and see the stunning estuary views by day, and by night the pretty lights of Teignmouth. And they’ve got nine delightful rooms if you fancy a sleepover.
PS! Since writing this I have heard about a few more:
Turtley Corn Mill, South Brent – outdoor covered space with heater.
The Mill on the Exe, Exeter – loads of outdoor covered space just outside the city centre on the riverside.
Thatched Inn, Abbotsham – have a cute new covered Snug.