Insanely good icecream, wood-fired pizza & countryside views at Otter Valley Field Kitchen - Monkton
Updated: Jun 7, 2020
I’m writing this on my laptop at a table in a great café. This is making me feel terribly important, as surely this must make me look like I have an interesting job, or that I’m a high-flying, hot-desking millennial? (Actually, I’m too old to be a millennial, and does anyone even use a laptop anymore? Not one this size, I probably need a Macbook or something.)
Anyway, it’s not been a good morning. It’s lashing with rain, (it’s JUNE!), and the school run was chaotic. I forgot to bring the cookies I’d baked for the school cake sale for the second day running, and I’m probably going to spend the rest of the day feeling a bit guilty about being the ‘shouty mum’ who got overly cross when my new beige trainers got a splattering of wet, sludgy mud courtesy of my puddle-splashing Peppa Pig child in the school playground. (Note to self, they were a terrible choice of footwear and I should just wear my cloddy leather boots and be done with it until it starts being more June-ish.)
Still, things are looking up – I’m at Otter Valley Field Kitchen, an almost-new café/restaurant just off the A30 at Monkton – about 10 minutes from Honiton, 20 minutes from Axminster and half an hour from Crewkerne. My coffee has just arrived (with a free mini chocolate wafer, YES), and I’m waiting for my Dad to arrive so that I can treat him to breakfast for Father’s Day, as he’s flying off to Canada tomorrow and won’t be here on the day.
This isn’t just an ordinary coffee shop though – having opened less than a year ago, it looks like something from Pinterest; an impressive wooden-framed structure with glass from floor to ceiling all the way around giving panoramic views across the Devon countryside. It’s modern but classic, with big beams and pitched windows and loads of space, surrounded by rolling hills and a lovely wraparound garden.
This is a destination in itself for icecream and a play outside in the lovely garden, with its wooden picnic tables and views across the fields. With more than 20 flavours on today’s menu (made on the farm next-door with milk from their own cows), the kids (and adults) will be spoilt for choice, and you can have it in a tub with a spoon or in a variety of different cones. Sorbets too, if dairy isn’t your thing. I've tried a couple of the flavours and I can tell you this ain't no Vienetta (although Vienetta is lush, right?). What I'm trying to say is that the icecream is outstanding.
Is it a bit posh for kids, you might ask? Well, it’s a smart-looking place, but it has casual vibes and the tables are nicely spread out so you needn’t fear disturbing other diners too much. (Plenty of room to park a buggy next to your seat.) There’s also a stack of wooden highchairs which I take to be a good indicator for ‘child-friendly venue’. Whilst you couldn’t really let younger kids run loose inside the restaurant, there’s plenty of space for that in the garden, which mercifully is mostly fenced off to help you keep them contained!
I’ve got some keen visions of returning here on a more summery summer’s day for an icecream or three in the garden, maybe after a walk around Offwell Woods (I’ll cover that in a separate blog post soon). But aside from the award-winning icecream, Otter Valley Field Kitchen offers a small but delicious breakfast menu, coffees/teas and cakes, and quite an extensive lunch menu. For me, the jewel in the café’s crown is its wood-fired pizza oven which they light up every day ready for lunch service.
There isn’t a specific children’s menu for lunch, but talking to the friendly staff this morning, they confirmed that they’re always happy to adapt things on the main lunch menu to suit younger tastes and appetites. That's a great thing as the menu is exciting but kids might be a bit wary of the rocket and wasabi cream! (Actually my kids love wasabi, weirdly?!). They also said they happily do ‘half & half’ pizzas so that two kids with different preferences can share one of the pizzas. That’s what we did when we last came here for lunch – split one of the generous (and delicious) pizzas in two for the girls, which kept the cost down and was just the right size.
Practically speaking, there’s loos just around the corner of the main door (and they’re spotless), the disabled WC has baby changing facilities, and there’s plenty of free parking. It’s also useful to note that they do not operate a booking system for tables, so this is worth bearing in mind at the weekends when it gets busier – and by the way, it’s closed on a Monday, with the exception of bank holidays.
All in all, if you’re looking for a lovely spot to enjoy a pretty special ice cream away from the busy beaches, or a venue to meet friends for coffee, breakfast or lunch in spacious surroundings in the Honiton area, this is a great bet. You can follow them on Facebook or on Instagram.