the curlew, bodiam

update: the curlew was awarded a michelin star in january 2010. many congratulations!

jay rayner’s review of the curlew, back in june, caught my eye and it's been on my list of places to visit ever since seeing this and the “rising star” award that chef neil mccue won at the 2010 tatler laurent-perrier & taste of london restaurant awards.

david and i went for lunch last week, our third meal in a rural setting in as many weeks (the others being the michelin-starred sportsman and the dove, both in kent), and had a very delicious meal.

we got caught in traffic and were running late which meant we were ravenous by the time we sat down. the home-cooked bread was served with pork dripping infused with thyme and bay leaf. this was incredible – the dripping melted into the warm bread and provided a delicate savoury flavour.

i started with a deep fried, lightly-crumbed piece of black pudding which was served with gooseberry jelly, apple and watercress. the black pudding was superb – little nuggets of fat and a melt-in-the-mouth texture of earthy richness which contrasted well with the tartness of the apple and gooseberry.

david chose “a piece of cake” – a pork terrine which was topped with a rich duck liver parfait; a sliver of toast topped with thin slices of smoked duck breast; and a green bean salad. the combination of flavours and textures made the dish both delicious and interesting to eat.

this was followed by crispy old spot pork belly, sweet corn (a custard and an incredibly intensely flavoured puree), baby carrots and new potatoes for me. this dish made me so happy – everything was cooked perfectly and the flavours were bright and punchy which made every mouthful a real pleasure to eat.

david’s lamb dish was similarly superb – slow cooked shoulder of romney marsh lamb, lamb bacon (this was my favourite part of this dish and is apparently inspired by a meal at noma – the bacon comprises breast meat cooked at 63 degrees for 36 hours, resulting in a wonderful depth of flavour), peas and baby morels plus more dripping, this time flavoured with mint. as part of each of our three rural meals we ate lamb and this was the best of the bunch. my pork was also one of the best main courses we had eaten.

pudding followed – i clung to my memories of being hungry and ordered summer pudding with wild blackcurrants and fennel ice cream. this was another hit – served as a slice of “cake”, with layers of fruit between the berry-sodden bread, the cassis flavour was shining through, accentuated by some blackcurrant sherbet which was dusted around the plate and under the ice cream (a very subtle fennel flavour which was complemeted by thin strips of candied fennel). david’s soaked upside-down greengage cake was not as good but still delicious. i was less keen on the crème fraiche ice cream it was served with.

overall, a superb meal which, with a carafe of grecanico and aperitifs came to c£85. out of the three meals mentioned above, it was my favourite although the sportsman’s starters still stand out.

the curlew

junction road, bodiam, east sussex

t - 01580 861 394

abby dysonkent4 Comments