WOODFORD Bridge is an old thatched Devon pub beside the upper reaches of the river Torridge which some decades ago was vastly extended with little white cottages up the side of the valley, a swimming pool and gym, and indeed all the facilities of a holiday club. It is a nice place; the cottages always looked good on the hillside and now that the vegetation has grown up they look even better. There's a stream running through the site which you cross on little wooden bridges while admiring the massive leaves of the tropical gunnera growing beside the water. Peacocks strut about saying "phew" in that strident voice of theirs.
Us locals can drink in the bar and eat there or in the restaurant. I think we may have dined on the first really busy Friday night of the season. There were probably 50 diners in the restaurant and more eating in the bar. Things were a bit slow; it took us three hours to be served a three course meal. Fortunately my wife and I had taken a friend along to talk to or else we would have been reduced to criticising the dress sense, table manners and parenting skills of all the other couples in sight. It's happened before.
The Table d'hôte Menu offers three courses and coffee for £19.95, two for £15.95; decent value. Onion and stilton soup was creamy and delicious; smoked salmon roulade wasn't stuffed with prawns and herbs as on the menu but with cream cheese and herbs but was fine. Particularly good (and from the à la carte menu; three courses à la carte cost about a fiver more) was the smoked haddock rarebit which turned out to be cheesy pastry wrapped around the fish together with a generous sprinkle of capers.
Baked cod came with spinach, mash and a perfectly poached egg that the menu hadn't mentioned. My pork loin with brie and cranberry sauce had more cranberry than I wanted, but I didn't have to eat it all, did I? And the sea bass had slices of chorizo and a wonderfully lurid green pea puree.
We were only up for two puddings; the sticky toffee was absolutely all it should have been and the strawberry shortbread tower was fine. And then we had a large jug of coffee, most unusually included in the set price menu.
Where: Woodford Bridge Country Club, Milton Damerell, EX22 7LL.
Bookings: 01409 261481.