T WOULD be rude not to try the Steak and Kidney Pudding. After all, this was the same Steak and Kidney Pudding featured in Rick Stein's TV series Food Heroes. A pie that famously takes 40 minutes to cook and is reportedly delicious.
We had to make a special request for it though as, although on the bar menu, it wasn't on the restaurant menu. You will be glad to know we weren't idle in those 40 minutes and managed to effectively use them up on two very nice starters: a warmed goats' cheese salad and a chicken liver paté.
The pie, when it came, was a traditional pleasure for those who like a meat-laden, suet sensation. Forgoing such luscious treats as duck and pheasant, I also decided to sample the very homely, rustic-sounding leek and parsnip cakes. Now it's quite unusual for parsnips to get the starring role in any dish and I applaud the bravery and imagination of utilising their sweetness (an acquired taste) this way. Both dishes were also accompanied by a bounteous selection of veg which pleased me greatly.
It's little surprise that this characterful, country pub has been a magnet for famous faces seeking a rustic, rural experience. Sandwiched between two stunning moors (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and a stone's throw from the River Torridge, it's an unsophisticated and unchanged oasis. Old bank notes adorn the beams at the bar and there are ultra cosy inglenook fires which are lovely to relax in front of. Noel Edmonds used to be a regular here and Charlie Watts the drummer from the Rolling Stones has often visited. Jennifer Saunders, too, is said to pop in, from time to time.
For those who like their ale, another attraction of the pub is that real ales come straight from the barrel. I can certainly vouch for the kick of the ultra strong Broadside. The pub will again be listed in Camra's good beer guide for 2013.
We didn't have much room for the gorgeous-sounding, home-made puds but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of brown-sugar meringues which perfectly complemented the earthy texture of accompanying hazelnuts with chocolate sauce.
Due to the pub's fame (after having been featured in the BBC TV drama Down To Earth and more recently mentioned in the film War Horse) visitors come to enjoy its country charms from all over the world. I can really see why. Local author Michael Morpurgo was said to have been inspired to write his book, War Horse, by talking to a few locals in front of the fire in the bar.
The Duke of York doesn't go in for TVs, juke boxes or karaoke machines. It's unapologetically old fashioned.
"People come here for good food, good ales and the old fashioned art of good conversation," said landlord John Pittam. "The locals soon attach themselves to newcomers and in no time conversation is struck up, regardless of the topic. We like to think that whoever comes through the front door will be welcome as if you've been coming here for 70 odd years."
Cost: The above meal for two with drinks came to £44.30.
Where: The Duke Of York, Iddesleigh, EX19 8BG.
Bookings: 01837 810253.