FOOD & DRINK
A FEATHER LIGHT LUNCH AT THE FUZZY DUCK
If, like me, toiletries ‘accidentally’ fall into your wash bag on checking out of your hotel room; the odds are Baylis and Harding - one of the leading brands in that field, will have supplied them. But what we have in the Warwickshire hamlet of Armscote is quite the reverse; Baylis and Harding are the people behind this boutique hotel and restaurant. I have known ‘The Fuzzy Duck’, in its various incarnations over the past 40 years and it was difficult to believe I was in the same place. Indeed so stunning is the transformation I had to return to my car to check from the map and make sure I was in the right place! The new restaurant project came about when the local village pub in Armscote was boarded up. Brother and sister Tania Fossey and Adrian Slater live in the village and decided to do something about it. Tania comments, “It’s a great shame that so many rural communities have no centre - so when the pub came up for sale we decided to do something about it and put something back into the community. Our vision was a small but perfectly formed boutique B&B and country eatery which would not only be a lovely place for locals but would also establish the little hamlet on the gourmet map too.” I was met by the manager, Martin Deveraux, who gave me a brief tour of the inn. The four bedrooms, all named after ducks, some of which can be found on the nearby village pond, reek of luxury. From the large, comfortable beds, the ‘Frette’ linen, towels and bathrobes and as you would expect enough Baylis and Harding toiletries to start a shop. Martin is very proud of The Fuzzy Duck, and rightly so. It’s the little touches that impress. The neat line of ‘Hunter’ wellies for those guests that wish to explore the Warwickshire countryside; the cleverly designed separate entrance to the bedrooms for those late returning visitors.
The bar and dining areas are as sumptuous as the rest of the hotel. My favourite is “The Garage” named after its former use and decorated with some terrific black and white iconic motor racing photographs. On a nice day however, I would no doubt be out in the garden or the outside eating area. But, you know me. The main reason I am here is for the food. Chef Richard Craven has worked in this area for some time. Apart from a couple of years in South Africa, he has a passion for working for some of the best food producers in the country and is excited by the fact that many of them are on the doorstop, enabling him and his team to produce amazing, tasty, seasonal food. He does confess however to enjoying egg and cress sandwiches from garage forecourt shops! My meal started with a little amuse bouche of a scotch quail’s egg or should that be a quail scotch egg? Either way, it was delicious. This was followed by a whole, fresh, baked loaf with a pat of excellent butter from Ross on Wye. My starter was individual duck and crayfish ravioli which was light as a feather - a duck’s feather presumably? I am a fish man, always have been, always will be. No choice of course as I am named after the world’s greatest fisherman, so the main of Dover Sole, one of the great fish, was right up my street. Together with seasonal vegetables, it was perfect. I had a chat with chef Richard who was equally excited about being able to offer Dover Sole on the menu as its price often makes this difficult. I passed on dessert, but having enjoyed a couple of glasses of thirst quenching Pinot Grigio I just had a single espresso which was the perfect finish to an excellent lunch. So there we are: The Fuzzy Duck. It has a great future and I can see it becoming a firm favourite on the local eating scene whether you go for lunch or dinner or if you want to make it a really special visit with an overnight stay as well. The Fuzzy Duck, Ilmington Road, Armscote, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwicks. 01608 682635 v O ctober 2013 v Four Shires 59
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