There seems to be quite a few 16th Century pubs in West Devon. Those living in the region back in those days certainly knew how to have a good time, and seemed to be experts in building some really excellent pubs, that have survived the ravages of time, and thrive today.
The Elephants Nest Inn, near Mary Tavy is a notable example of a 16th Century pub. It really is superb. So if you don’t have time to read the rest of the review, you have now learnt how good this pub is and should be adding it to your must visit list!
The Elephants Nest Inn is in a fantastic location. I had always thought it was close to Mary Tavy village centre, but by following the signs from the A386, we were soon taken down a few narrow lanes to this secluded inn.
It’s ony about six miles from Tavistock and is well worth the drive. Or walk, if you have been walking along the River Tavy by Horndon, or trekking across the nearby tors.
I was struck by the garden, which overlooks delightful countryside with Dartmoor in the distance. It must be fantastic to sit out there on a sunny day, enjoying a drink or two and enjoying that scenery. That’s on our to do list, for sure.
Why that strange name?
The staff must feel a bit jaded when yet another new customer eagerly enquires about how the pub acquired it’s strange name.
If you have never been there, read this explanation so that you will not be one of the newbies questioning the staff about this story for their hundredth time.
Back in 1953, the landlord was very large and not that mobile. So he served customers from a swivel seat behind the bar that allowed him to swing around to the optics and then back again to serve the pints.
One day, a regular customer came into the bar and remarked that the landlord looked “like an elephant sitting on a nest”. This description appealed to the landlord’s good sense of humour, so he decided to change the name of the pub from The New Inn, as it was called then, to “The Elephant’s Nest Inn”.
A quirky and charming story, which actually sums up the ambience and decor of the pub.
There are elephant statues dotted around some of the rooms, and in the garden. There are also hundreds of different beer mats stuck to the wooden ceiling beams near the bar. Oh, and there are various foreign and amusing names for Elephants written in chalk on many of the beams too.
The food is really good too
We visited The Elephant’s Nest for lunch. It was pleasantly busy, so there was a good atmosphere and service was very friendly, efficient and welcoming.
Their lunch time menu is well thought out and offers more interesting dishes that you generally find. This is supplemented by their specials board, which also had some tempting choices on offer.
I had seen another customer being served with the homemade steak and kidney pudding with cabbage & pancetta and herbed new potatoes, which looked so good, my mind was made up there and then.
The hackneyed phrase “it tasted as good as it looks” really was the right description for this excellent steak and kidney pudding. The beef was very tender, the gravy tasty and the cabbage and pancetta worked very well as an accompaniment.
It was also very filling, which put paid to our plans to try one of their desserts.
Diane opted for the old fashioned pork country terrine with pickled vegetables and crusty bread. Planning on having one of the tempting desserts too, she opted for the starter sized portion.
She always seems to chose well (see my other reviews). Her dish looked really appetising when it was served, as you can see from this photo.
The terrine was well made and seasoned, and the pickled vegetables were very tasty. Her problem was that it filled her up so much that we decided against having a dessert, even though I had suggested that we get one to share!
With food of this quality, I think that the prices are very reasonable. I personally don’t mind paying a premium when the chef has obviously used his skill and passion to create the high quality food served by The Elephants Nest.
It’s not just the food that you are buying at a place like this though. The whole package of location, ambience and quirkiness makes visiting this pub such an enjoyable experience.
Our lunch cost:
- Steak and kidney pudding with cabbage & pancetta and herbed new potatoes £14.95
- Old fashioned pork country terrine with pickled vegetables and crusty bread £6.95
- Drinks (A pint of Jail Ale and an Appletize for Diane) : £6.35
Total Bill : £28.25
You can probably guess that I like The Elephant’s Nest very much. Perhaps the drinks are a bit pricey, but I don’t mind when the food and the overall experience is so good.
I am very tempted to go back there soon with the children to try their Sunday lunch. It would also be great to sit out in that garden on a sunny evening, or just go back and explore more of their lunch menu….
Needless to say, The Elephant’s Nest is highly recommended!
We have no commercial relationship with the Drake Manor Inn. They did not know that I was writing this review and we paid for our meal in full.