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Chef Will Devlin takes over Curlew restaurant in East Sussex

05 February 2020 by

Will Devlin has taken over the Curlew restaurant in Bodiam, East Sussex, to offer sharing plates of local produce, predominantly grown by the chef and his team.

Devlin, who was named The Good Food Guide's Chef to Watch 2020, already runs the 26-cover Small Holding restaurant in Kilndown on the Kent-East Sussex border. The restaurant, which he opened in April 2018, sits on an acre of farmed land alongside the 40-acre May Farm, where Devlin also offers accommodation for guests.

At the Small Holding Devlin offers a lunchtime five-course tasting menu and an evening nine-course tasting menu, both created using some of the 200 types of fruit and vegetables grown by the team, as well as the sheep, chickens, ducks and pigs reared on the land.

The Curlew, a 17th-century former coaching inn, which had been run by Mark and Sara Colley until last year, will be a more casual offering than its sister site.

The Curlew (Food Story Media)
The Curlew (Food Story Media)

Devlin told The Caterer: "It's a really cool little restaurant with an open kitchen. There are some wicked breweries down there, it's 20 minutes from the coast and there are loads of game shoots around – it's a great location.

"It was quite a formal restaurant before and we want to bring it back to being a more casual place to go and eat tasty food. These communal sharing plates are a great way to eat."

The Curlew's constantly evolving menu will include dishes such as whole baked turbot stuffed with young sea vegetables; duck brushed with honey and finished with caraway, fennel and coriander seeds; miso cod with a seaweed sauce; as well as whole smoked chicken and rib of Sussex beef, from animals reared close to the restaurant.

The drinks menu will feature local breweries that use heritage hops and water filtered through the South Downs as well as English wines from some of the country's leading wineries, which are on the restaurant's doorstep.

Devlin will split his time between the 46-cover Curlew and the Small Holding, which will be led by head chef Harry Fields while he is off-site.

The chef-patron trained at Gordan Ramsay's Pétrus before returning to his home county of Kent. He explained: "I love London in short periods, but whenever I had a couple of days off I'd jump on the train home and have that buzz of the countryside.

"Also, most of the produce we were cooking was coming from Kent – strawberries, salt marsh lamb and apples. I thought, that's all the stuff I grew up with, why not just cook it there?"

The Curlew will open on 19 February.

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