Restaurant Review: The Notley Arms, Monksilver

Since leaving university and starting work, it becomes increasingly harder to see the friends I met in Cornwall. Even now when Verity works half an hour away from where I do, we still only manage to get together every few months. When we do however, it never seems to disappoint. We’ve been on a mission to try out some of the local pubs along the stretch of Somerset countryside between us and so far have visited two. The first was before I’d started blogging and used to try and limit the number of photos I took of my food. Now however, it is more easily explained – you look less weird if you say it’s for review purposes than just because you want to remember an especially good looking meal!


We decided to meet for this rendezvous at The Notley Arms in Monksilver. I hadn’t ever come across it before, other than knowing that my bosses take clients there for special lunches. I had high hopes…and wasn’t disappointed. Depending on the occasion, there are usually three sorts of pubs I will go to- the Wetherspoons-esque you get what you pay for everything-comes-with-chips pub, the local turned gastro pub with a decent and more elaborate menu that’s trying to be posher than it actually is, but with the tell tale sign of scruffy bearded men slouching over the bar drinking pints in exactly the same position that they’ve been for the last 15 years, and the posh pub come fancy hotel, with a 3 month waiting list, posh lighting and champagne lining the shelves behind the bar.

The Notley Arms is a combination of pubs 2 and 3. The interior is smart and interesting, with stuffed clouds adorning the ceiling, a mismatch of solid wooden tables and chairs, open log fires and quirky artwork. There is still the huddle of regulars, grunting over pints after a hard days work, but this is diluted with a mix of  recently retired wealthy couples enjoying wine and cheeseboards, young professionals still in their suits, and old friends laughing at shared jokes after putting the world to rights. The atmosphere was warm and cosy as a pub should be but clean and fresh rather than the sticky tables, muddy floors and stray dogs that often come with a rural pub.


As the weather was still sunny, we sat outside to have our first course, but the garden was a lot more standard than the rest of the pub, though it does overlook the village which is so picturesque! We’re both a huge fan of puddings so I settled on an extended starter of the infamous Notley Scotch Egg, served with black pudding, salad, thrice cooked chips and Bloody Mary ketchup. Verity settled on the mushroom, spinach and truffle oil raviolo with a mixture of spring greens and mango coulis.

My scotch egg was everything that a decent scotch egg should be – runny yolk, delicious seasoned pork sausage, crispy breadcrumbs and sat on some of the best local black pudding I’ve ever tasted. The chips surpassed my expectations (I’m usually more of a fan of fries) and the salad was a fresh addition. The only bit that let me down was the Bloody Mary ketchup. I love the concept of this, but in reality, it was a little too acidic and had a surprising taste. It wasn’t awful, but I felt that a smoky BBQ ketchup or tomato and chilli chutney would have been better placed. For £10 total (£7 as a starter, £3 for chips) it was definitely a perfectly sized main meal.


Verity’s main was a little more pricey at £14, especially as there wasn’t a huge amount of food on the plate. The overall look of the dish was incredible – a burst of colours, and the flavours complemented each other wonderfully – you could have just had an extra ravioli rather than just one which didn’t fill her up as much as she’d hoped.

The sun had dipped down behind the horizon which reminded us that it’s definitely not summer yet so we went inside to have our puds sat on squishy old fashioned armchairs at a lovely chunky wooden table. For a Thursday night in April it was reasonably busy with about 5 other tables also dining.


The puddings were much larger than the mains, and although slightly more expensive than other pubs at £7 each, they were worth the extra pennies! I had chosen a white chocolate and buttermilk panacotta with blackcurrant coulis, candied rhubarb sticks and crushed almonds whereas V had a molten chocolate mousse with passion fruit coulis and kiwi icecream. My dessert was smooth and thick (and huge) but it was a shame the rhubarb was in sticks rather than stewed as they were awkward to eat, and the almonds had a nice crunch but were rather flavourless and could have been roasted to make them tastier. Verity’s chocolate pot was velvety and rich and just the perfect temperature, which went wonderfully with the passionfruit and icecream. Strangely we both assumed that kiwi icecream would be green, yet it was still white, and wasn’t anything to rave about – more of a gimmick than something I’d jump a having again.


Reasons for visiting The Notley Arms:

  • Location – the drive to Monksilver is beautiful (not surprising as it’s in the middle of Exmoor National Park)
  • Food – if you’re after well thought out and varied menu that is a little more pricey
  • Interiors –  I loved the combination of rustic pub with interesting things to look at. You can’t go wrong with candlesticks in Hendrick’s bottles!
  • B&B – I can’t vouch for it myself, but I’ve heard it’s amazing!
  • Branded everything – their plates, bowls, even the salt and pepper pots had the pheasant on them. Quite nice, in a bit of a naff OTT way too.

If you want to know more about The Notley Arms, have a look at their website HERE or give them a ring on 01984 656095.