Devon LivingIssue #02
The whole hog
We pay a visit to The Pig on the Hill, perched in rolling hillside above Westward Ho!, for a hearty lunch.
With two very excitable boys under five, our requirements for a rare family meal out together are always the same: great food (with simple options for the little ones), and a relaxed, informal atmosphere where we can enjoy the experience without the fear of incurring the wrath of our fellow diners. In The Pig on the Hill we managed to come up trumps on both scores. It can be a challenge finding a place with a warming, inviting atmosphere for families that doesn’t compromise on food, so we were delighted that it didn’t disappoint.
The Pig on the Hill is clearly a popular haunt. Eager to secure a good spot, we arrived early, and it was just as well that we did as it swiftly began to fill up. Situated on a small farmstead up on the hillside, away from the main throng of Westward Ho! and Appledore, it’s the kind of place you seek out – a destination in itself. However, this award-winning eatery is in fact a relatively new one, having only been open since 1990. Formerly a working barn, it was also the original location of Country Life Brewery, before it moved to its current home just down the road at The Big Sheep.
“It is a beautiful, peaceful spot, with stunning views over the countryside. It has that feel of a proper country pub sat comfortably in its own grounds, while being a mere stone’s throw from the coast.”
The pub takes its name from both the location and a former inhabitant, a black Vietnamese pot bellied pig by the name of Saigon. And there are many nods to its heritage throughout, from the quirky pig illustrations in the washrooms, to the references on the menu.
The interior is styled in a playful, shabby chic and informal way, with traditional and contemporary touches blended together. However, making the most of the sunshine, we opted for the terrace, enabling the children to wear off some energy and work up an appetite on the lawn beforehand.
Onto the food, and for the children it was macaroni cheese – a key component of their diet and always a relief when we find it on the menu. But there was plenty else to choose from on the ‘Piglets’ menu’, including battered haddock with skinny fries and peas, and beef and chorizo lasagne.
For the grown-ups, the lunch menu offers many local delicacies, including Barnstaple smoked trout, crushed avocado, soft boiled egg on sour dough; or perhaps Devon crisp pork belly, stuffing mayo, tomato, and baby gem in a brioche bun. But as The Pig on the Hill is particularly known for its gourmet burgers, we thought it would be rude not to.
To drink, I opted for a pint of guest ale Avocet, an organic pale blonde ale from The Exeter Brewery; light, fruity and hoppy it proved the perfect accompaniment to the burger, which was every bit as tasty as it had promised to be.
With empty plates and full bellies, pudding certainly wasn’t necessary. But it certainly was delicious. The warm chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and a sugar crisp piggy was an absolute delight, and well worth the ensuing guilt for temporarily parking the self-imposed sugar ban.
If you find yourself in north Devon and in search of great food and an atmosphere to match, you know where to go. The Pig on the Hill is the ideal starting – or end – point for a scenic coastal stroll. And that’s just as well, as we spent the remainder of the afternoon enjoying the sun, walking off those calories and reminiscing on a perfect family lunch.
THE PIG ON THE HILL
Westward Ho! EX39 5AH
DID YOU KNOW?
Should you wish to make a proper stay of it, there are three luxury cedar-clad cabins in the grounds that can be hired out for holidays: Pot Belly, Saddleback and Old Spot, each with its own private hot tub overlooking the countryside.
"It is a beautiful, peaceful spot, with stunning views over the countryside. It has that feel of a proper country pub sat comfortably in its own grounds, while being a mere stone’s throw from the coast."