“Sauce on the side please”: Instow Arms, August 2020.

First off, I have a confession to make. My plan was to use a few hours yesterday morning, post meal, to write all about it. *Checks phone for the time*. 10:27am. *Almost falls out of bed*. Two hours before meeting a friend for lunch (two meals out in 24 hours; reminds you of that bus analogy). The excitement of sitting inside an actual restaurant for the first time since this whole year became a little bit crazy, must have really taken it out of me.

The small village of Instow is like a post card, whether you are admiring it from the opposite side of the river, or enjoying it from the place itself. The views from the numerous restaurants along the sea front are rediculous. The Instow Arms is one of those sea view restaurants, and one of my top two places to eat in the village, as well as a top eatery in general. I will reveal the other place soon, but if you know me, it won’t be that hard a guess (I have the photos uploaded to my blog media already, all 19 of them).

As much as I was really looking forward to going out to eat (and not cooking, second confession), I was a little bit nervous about going inside any form of restaurant due to current happenings we are all too much aware of, but they were swiftly put at ease. Our table was for 8pm (perfect eating out time is between 7pm and 8pm, don’t you agree?) and we were made aware we might not sit down straight away to allow the lucky table before us to leave and the cleaning to take place. Fabulous – I could smell the disinfectant already, as well as the sanitiser already on my hands.

Anyway, to the food, as that is what we are all here for! (FYI, I took some videos too. The excitement was in full flow, but you will have to see Instagram as I haven’t paid for Premium on here).

One of the great things about the Instow Arms is its uncomplicated menu. A menu that does not change very often, maybe a few tweaks here and there, but why change something if it works! It has always worked for me.

Confession number three: I knew what I was going to order at least two days before the meal (what a shock); a starter and a main. No offence to the rest of the dining party, but there was definite flapping, I nailed the ordering of my food (I love you all dearly – I thought this would be funny. Made me laugh anyway).

Starter: Fresh Brown and White Crab Meat with Warm Crusty Bread and Lemon Mayo

Seeing fresh crab on a menu is one of life’s awesome moments (unless you hate crab, obviously). I wanted something light and this plate was definitely that. Part of me expected the crab to be presented in its shell, but any potential meat picking faff was averted by the small pots showing off each individual element in all its separated glory. The white crab meat was light in flavour and super delicate; you could see all the strands of glorious meat. The brown crab meat packed a bigger punch of flavour, which is what you expect and want, and had a great texture too, almost like a pate but without the heavy/creamy aspect (confession four: not a big fan of pate, soz). The lemon mayo, now that was epic. The colour was bright and inviting, and the taste a bold slap around the face. The lemon flavour was sharp but didn’t make your face screw up, and it went so well with both the white and brown crab meat. I could have eaten the mayo on its own with a spoon, or knife as I did when the crab had disappeared, what a belter. All those elements on a chunk of warm, crusty, soft bread – crumbs!

Main: Pan Roasted Salmon Served with Roasted Baby Potatoes, Seasonal Greens and a Lemon Cream Sauce.

And now the title of this blog makes sense, proudly holding my gravy boat of “sauce on the side please”. Confession five: I can’t cope with a sauce being put all over my food; give me the sauce on the side and I will then dip or pour at my own leisure. Strange but true. I have had this meal previously, and both times the salmon has rightly been the star of the show – flaky, pink and edges that showed it had been lovingly roasted. No crispy skin though. A green and orange supporting melody of carrots, peas, kale and broccoli, with a cheeky coating of butter (the shine gave it away) was happily eaten first. All hail the kale! Hiding under the star salmon, aldente, slightly roasted, new potatoes. Any potato is enhanced by being roasted, but it doesn’t quite beat a side of crunchy outer, soft in the middle, sweet potato fries! A couple roasties eaten, all the fries demolished – spot the ketchup on the plate. Like the lemon mayo, the lemon cream sauce had a zing and married the salmon like it should. But unlike the lemon mayo, and to be expected, the sauce was a lot creamier and more pale in colour. On this occasion, a little too rich for me, but you’ll be pleased to know the salmon and starchy goods did get a dunking.

“Fries on the side, please”

A River Exe Mussels (on the) Side Note

Mussels by the bucket load

This isn’t a side order of mussels, don’t worry. But a small mention because of the enthusiasm and excitement one friend showed towards her main meal. A meal she chooses every time if it is available on any menu anywhere. The bucket of mussels smelt amazing; full of onion and garlic, enough to put off any vampire, as well as her fiance, for a few days. To part quote the mussel eating friend, the shell bearing seafood were *something* (use your imagination) “immense”. I shall leave you to fill the blank.

Once again, a wonderful experience and fantastic service; you could see how busy and hard all the staff were working to keep everyone safe and happy in a stunning location. As for dessert, not this time (say what?). Final confession: definitely becoming more of a starter and main person, drifting from the main and dessert clan. May be it’s an age thing? Because that would add further reasoning to not waking up until nearly 10:30am on a Wednesday morning.

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