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43


BEST PUBS


The Old Inn, Halwell Advertising feature


W


hen they took over The Old Inn in 2013 Steve and Juliet Freeman’s main aim was to


recreate a traditional family pub and restaurant with good home cooked food. After three and a half years at the helm they think they’ve succeed- ed. The pub is well known for it’s constantly changing selection of local ales and locally sourced food and Ju- liet says they try to keep the menu as varied and up-to-date as possible. As head chef she does her best to cater for all needs with various vegetarian, gluten free, and lactose free options for customers: “We have the old favourites like my traditional steak and ale pie and beer battered fish and chips, but we also have other dishes such as Thai style fish cakes, succulent sir- loin steaks and hunters chicken which go down well.” They can hold large functions at the pub and are regularly booked for birthdays, christenings and anniversary parties. Children and dogs are welcome


with well behaved parents and owners. The children are entertained by a large selection of toys and books, but they also get to play with the couple’s loveable spaniel Sadie. She wanders around the pub stopping at each table for a stroke. She also performs a nifty little trick where she balances a beer mat on her nose, then flips it into the air


and catches it in her mouth! Sadie is a big hit with younger visitors and even has her own specially printed souvenir postcards which say ‘Thank you for playing with me today’. The bar is frequented by farmers, business people on working lunches and tourists: “We see new people all the time. The other day we served some holidaymakers from Australia,” says Juliet (who has cooked for royalty). “Our location helps; many people spot us on their way to Totnes, Dartmouth or Kingsbridge.” Since moving in the pair have re-


decorated and improved the outdoor area with a herb garden, new planters and trellis fencing to make it safer for children to play whilst mum and dad enjoy a quiet drink. They also have a pub darts team with regulars from the bar - Juliet and Steve join in when it’s a home game: “We


are very good at coming second,”


says Steve. “We haven’t progressed past that yet but we are having a lot of fun trying!” He enjoys being front of house while Juliet loves being in the kitchen – a job she is well suited to as she has been in the catering industry since she was 12. “I washed dishes and served tables at The Victo- ria Hotel in Dartmouth, which is now Browns. I was fortunate enough to get a work experience placement at the Naval College kitchen at the age of 14. They liked my work and deter-


mination so asked me back for a spe- cial occasion where I made mushroom soup for the Queen Mother and guests when she visited the college!” Juliet went on to work as second chef at The Royal Castle Hotel before becoming the catering manager in the South Hams Leisure Centres for over 15 years. Steve’s first introduction to food was when the couple took over the food franchise at Dartmouth’s Conservative Club. Up until then he’d served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force and then moved into the motor trade. Juliet says it’s not an easy job at times but they have slotted into the day-to- day pub routine pretty smoothly: “We often work a 90 hour week as we also have two B&B rooms. That means we’re up early doing breakfasts. Then it’s preparing food and serving drinks until the last person leaves at 11pm. But it is a fun job, we love chatting to the guests about local issues or finding out where they have come from and a bit about their history.” Many customers are interested in


the pub’s past. It dates back to the 1500s and was built from the same stone as the church tower next door. “In the old days men and women were segregated, gents this side and ladies over there” says Steve, but thankfully that policy’s been updated along with some of the pub’s archi- tecture. Parts of the Inn have been rebuilt over the past 500 years but there’s always been a tavern of some kind on this spot for all that time. •


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