The Half Moon, Clyst St Mary, Exeter


Sunday lunches are quite a British thing, correct me if I am wrong but I don’t know of another culture that will insist on having roast dinners even in the middle of Summer whilst its baking hot outside.  But like many things in the culinary universe, it is very very easy to (excuse the French) f**k up.

For a number of years the legendary Sunday lunch at The Half Moon in Clyst St Mary has been a source of curiosity as more than one person has recommended it to me.  So, given we were invited down for a recent birthday, how could I not give it the Eating Exeter treatment.

Before I go on, I have to say that I am completely biased when writing about The Half Moon simply because I was a resident of Clyst St Mary for about six years, and through the years, the village itself has changed in a lot of ways.  But one constant has been this funny little pub that has sat on the corner in the village for a very long time.

Clyst St Mary is a strange village that suffers from ‘Blink and You Miss It’ Syndrome.  The roundabout is the one feature of this village that most people are familiar with, its not a destination, just a small squirt on an ever encroaching urban landscape.  There is a medieval bridge that crosses the marsh next door which saw a large battle in The Prayer Book Rebellion, and a shop that sells things and and…the Village Hall.  There is also a church but this is conveniently situated a mile away on the other side of the Winslade Park estate.

So where does The Half Moon fit in to all of this? It was here that I tried to out-drink my father when I was newly and managed to fail.  It has been 14 years since I have had a pint of Addlingtons Cider and I won’t be in a rush. Sorry Addlingtons!  As you might imagine, he got in trouble when I returned home and returned the contents of my stomach in a glorious and embarrassing fashion.

It was in this pub I spent a couple of new years and it was in this pub that I gave away a winning meat raffle ticket, only to have found out it would have won a massive joint of pork. So unfortunately this review has turned in to more of a nostalgic ramble…oh well.
One of my best friends worked here for years, and after the demise of The Malster’s Pub which was situated further up the visit, The Half Moon became the only pub.  A sad and inevitable fact of life these days is that pubs are increasingly under threat, but given the popularity of this place and the popularity of the Sunday Lunches here, it would be surprising if The Half Moon faced such a threat.

There are two bars, a drinking bar and the restaurant side.  Both of them are not overly spacious, but I would be happy to say that although it is cosy, the surroundings are definitely not claustrophobic.  The menu at The Half Moon allow large and small portions which makes sense given how much food can end up being wasted by being overly generous with portions.  Specials on the wall, Sunday lunch menu on the table.   I went for the Topside Beef which was £8.95, and a bit cheaper for a smaller portion.  Accompanied by a pint of Hanlon’s Half Moon, which really just had to be done.

Trying to reserve a table for Sunday lunch at The Half Moon is something you really need to do in advance.  The pub was packed and it is easy to see why as I have to fully endorse this as one of the better pub roasts I have had in quite a while.  Crispy Roast potatoes, well cooked Beef (it was so thick I really could have done with a steak knife!) accompanied with home-made horseradish sauce.I have little else to say.  Brilliant roasts, very attentive service and real ales. Village pub atmosphere. What else could you ask for?

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