Noel Corston at Kittiwell House

A pop up restaurant, in North Devon, could it really be! Ok, so it was located in Croyde which to be fair is sometimes accused of being more London than North devon but I was still highly impressed . And a tasting menu of British cuisine to boot, not to mention a chef who comes highly regarded by some extremely foodie friends. I needed no more convincing.
Noel Corston is usually to be found as Head Chef at The Courtyard restaurant in Woolacombe and has opened a temporary restaurant at Kittiwell House, a B&B, for 4 weeks only, to showcase his culinary prowess. On our arrival it was that quiet in the dining room I thought for a moment that we might be at the wrong venue, but no, it was just the hushed tones commonly associated with fine dining. I’m sure our table soon put pay to that though!
The first half of the meal was dedicated to showcasing some very skilled cooking of fish. An appetiser of crab with avocado on crostini, got the tastebuds suitably tantalised. A first course of monkfish served with a peppery fennel and cucumber salad got us off to a good start. Then it was on to hake nestled on an intensely flavoured base of crab and tomatoes. Next up, a lovely piece of brill with minted peas and tartare sauce, the flavours so clean and defined. As the man commented, it was like a very posh version of fish and chips, minus the chips.
Then, on to the piece de resistance – a beautifully pink and wonderfully tender duck breast, surrounded by swirls of squash and apple purees and strewn with pieces of duck crackling. It was absolutely exquisite and by far and away the best duck dish I have eaten. My mouth is watering at the mere recollection of it even as I type this.
A dessert of iced nougat, crammed full of pistachios, with raspberries and lemon curd, a dish that could have masqueraded as a piece of art, made me remember why puddings can be so delicious when they are done well. And the finale of plum tart was very well matched with a strong lavender ice cream.
Seven courses later my beau left the restaurant rather lighter of pocket but he also left with one very happy girlfriend indeed. And at £55 a head for food this was bang on the money for cooking of this calibre. On the basis of that meal I’ll certainly be looking to take a trip to Woolacombe in the very near future…
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