We’re used to our favourite bands going on tour, and comedians have been doing the circuit for years. But what about chefs? Chef/founder of the Devon Food Movement, Luke Fearon, doesn’t have his own kitchen. Instead, he make guest appearances at existing venues, and this week he brought his concept to the Island’s own Kynges Well.
Brading’s historic pub has some real talent in the kitchen; it’s one of the Island’s few pubs to get a Matt and Cat five star review. So, when Luke collaborated with Kynges Well’s chef Tom Axford, we were expecting great things.
The ethos of the Devon Food Movement is to devise a dinner using ingredients with minimal food miles, sourcing local ingredients to create an interesting and seasonal menu.
Deer is not an animal found wild on the Isle of Wight; so Luke brought some deer meat with him from Devon for our first dish. Raw fallow deer, served on a tapioca tuile, decorated with wood sorrell. The meat was, as expected, melt-in-the-mouth.
Wittily served on a clay pigeon was this brace of buttermilk-fried pheasant nuggets. The crispy polenta coating was deliciously seasoned and the aroma from the bed of pine needles wafted gently across our ‘popcorn’ pheasant. We were also served Devon Food Movement home cures: a rich, sweet slice of sausage. This was paired with an earthy Austrian pinot noir from the wine flight curated by Wight and Wessex Wines.
Kynges Well chef Tom Axford created the next course, a simple but substantial basket of locally-baked bread, with lashings of salted and marmite-enhanced Coppid Hall Farm butters.
We both fell on the beetroot-cured salmon. Big jewel-like chunks of ruddy fish, pickled heritage beets and spectacular boozy Mermaid Gin granita. This course also included Ventnor Bay crab doughnuts; clever and delicious bite-sized morsels, washed down with a nicely-matched Spanish Albarino.
Chef Luke travels with his own crockery, including these delicate porcelain shells, ideal for serving this succulent ox tongue and whipped cave-aged cheddar. The supersoft meat was mixed with some crispier bits for texture contrast. For such a small dish this was surprisingly hearty.
We spotted Kynges Well’s influence on the next course. Matt’s had many a tasty croquette prepared by the pub’s chef Tom Axford and this liver and blood pudding variation was a rich addition to Tom’s croquette arsenal. Served with juicy Brownrigg duck breast and artichoke purée, plus a spoonful of Fuggle de Dum, smoked bone marrow and reduced game stock.
We headed into the sweet courses with toffee apple-style tarte tatin, theatrically sprayed with aged cider brandy, and served with a wedge of room temperature Devon Blue cheese. An amazing sweet and acid combo which was matched with syrupy Coteaux de Layon dessert wine.
Another cheese/sugar fusion for our second pudding: Green Barn goats cheese mousse, with almond meringue, roasted fig chutney and local honey. Hard to call our favourite between the two afters, but for Cat this one had the slight edge. The cheese was so smooth and creamy it was a clever match for the gooey meringue. The dish was paired with a raisiny Maury Solera dessert wine, which was described as having the aroma of “a boozy Christmas cake soaked in booze.”
Our tasting menu finished with cep fudge, sugary nuggets blended with dried Dorset wild mushrooms and, of course, clotted cream.
The Kynges Well regular menu ups the pub grub ante to the next level and it was great to be invited to see what else Tom Axford had up his sleeve as part of this kitchen tag-team with Devon Food Movement’s Luke Fearon. The courses were complimentary and well executed, created with decent local ingredients and a pinch of humour, plus a lively wine flight.
You’ve missed your chance to have this dinner, but keep an eye out on Kynges Well FB page for upcoming events. You might even see us there, trying to win the pub quiz!