FOOD REVIEW: The Bull and Dragon at Meeth
Rosanna Rothery tries to channel her style icon on a bicycle made for two.
APHOTO of Audrey Hepburn perched on a bike flashes in to my mind as we near the end of the Tarka Trail. It's the one where her immaculate hair is fastened in a fetching head scarf and she's decked out in a pristine white shirt and ivory pumps. She's a vision of flawless beauty, spotless style and effortless elegance.
Having just sped along 24 miles of the Tarka Trail from Barnstaple to Meeth on the back of the tandem, the elfin actress's impeccable elegance haunts me.
Not only does my windswept hair look like it's been licked by gorillas but my mismatched Lycras are splattered with mud and my cheeks are streaked with mascara.
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Thankfully The Bull and Dragon isn't so posh one needs to look like a Fifties style icon to get served. The comfortable, traditional thatched village pub complete with patterned carpet, low ceilings and old beams is a welcoming oasis. Lovely, friendly staff are as hospitable to bedraggled cyclists as they are to the locals.
In the interests of fellow diners, however, we decide to take our untidy selves outside to eat at one of the benches in front of the pub.
A goat's cheese on toast starter served with a tangy red onion chutney disappears pretty rapidly. For me, this is followed by a king prawn and pea linguine: a dish as simple and understated as a Hepburn-esque little black dress. Oodles of tasty garlic, however, makes that vital difference between dowdy and delicious.
My tandem co-pilot, meanwhile, tucks into a very good venison burger complete with chunky crispy chips.
There are many exotic sounding puddings to tempt us but we finally decide on a plate of assorted baklava. It arrives with a dunking dish laden with hot chocolate sauce. Now to be perfectly honest these deliciously rich and perfumed pastry parcels don't need the extra indulgence of a sticky sweet sauce. It is, however, a fun and sociable touch at the end of a very good meal.
After such a gigantic lunch (I am sure Audrey would never indulge this way) I feel more greedy gibbon than gorgeous gamine. However, I do my best in the decorum department. I smooth down my hair in an attempt to channel Audrey in both deportment and demeanour. Meanwhile, the man on the front of the tandem speeds me along a bumpy trail through muddy puddles and stony ditches. Why is it never quite like this in films?
Cost: The meal came to: £37.20.
Where: The Bull and Dragon, Meeth, EX20 3EP.
Bookings: 01837 811742.