Curlew is inventive and impressive
For my birthday and Christmas present my wife took me to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, a Michelin starred restaurant in London. You can read my review of it here. I wanted to do something similar for her birthday so I searched around locally for an interesting restaurant and came across The Curlew near Bodiam, which also has a Michelin Star. I booked up and we went for dinner.
The restaurant is situated in a 17th century coaching inn, on a sleepy junction in the middle of nowhere, with white cladding and looks just like a country pub. Step through the door and you are transported to a smart, modern restaurant decorated with deep, gray walls and bright artwork.
On our arrival we were directed to the comfortable seating area. We ordered some drinks and perused the menu whilst enjoying some complimentary nibbles. These consisted of spicy popcorn, light parmesan bread rolls and some huge Sicilian olives. A great start to the evening.
Following freshly baked ciabatta and stout bread we moved on to starters. I went for the “Potted Crab” which was served in a glass jar with fennel cream, pickled mooli (a white radish), ginger and a crab biscuit. The crab was very delicate in flavour and went perfectly with the soft mooli and fennel cream. The biscuit was quite crumbly and had a background flavour of crab. My wife had the “Moons Green Asparagus” which was a crispy duck egg covered in breadcrumbs with an oozy yolk in the middle, a cheese custard and rocket. Both dishes were well proportioned for starters and cooked to perfection.
For the main my wife had “Rib and Chip” a rib eye steak served with beef dripping, triple-cooked chips that were very crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, juniper cabbage and hollandaise sauce. The waitress had recommended medium rare and the steak was exactly that. It was lovely and juicy and had a perfect charcoal taste.
I had “Tarragon Polenta” from the separate vegetarian menu which was served inside crispy cannelloni together with sweetcorn and roasted shallot. It was a very unusual dish and unlike anything I’ve had before. The polenta was lovely and creamy inside the crunchy cannelloni. A delicious, hearty and filling dish that vegetarians and carnivores would enjoy.
I am a bit like Greg Wallace from Masterchef in that dessert is my favourite course and even before arriving at the restaurant I knew I was going to go for the “Mango Macaroon” which was a new addition to their spring menu. This was a large macaroon stood up on its side served with mascarpone, compressed mango, and pineapple and Szechuan pepper sorbet. It looked amazing and tasted even better. The macaroon was soft and chewy, the cream was light, the mango was full of flavour and the sorbet was light but with a mild kick of the pepper. A resounding success. My wife had “Chocolate” which was chocolate ganache, butter biscuit, cocoa nib, and seasalt sorbet. It was a great culmination of rich chocolate flavours and textures and the seasalt sorbet worked perfectly.
Overall The Curlew was a great find and we shall definitely be returning. Without wine and tip the meal cost about £40 a head for three courses which is amazing value for such inventive and impressive food. If you live anywhere in East Sussex or even further afield, it is definitely worth the journey.
The Curlew is located at Junction Road, Bodiam, East Sussex, TN32 5UY
Review by 25ThC