This was my third visit to the restaurant (having previously visited in 2010 and 2011) accompanied by my cousin and her husband with whom I was staying in Poole. In 2010 I had asked them to select their favourite local restaurant so that I could take them for a meal to show my gratitude for their kindness in having me to stay. I was somewhat surprised when they selected a restaurant in a village over one hour's drive away, but - oh my goodness - what a gem of a place, and thus both last year and again this we have returned to this compact but wonderful family-run establishment, overseen by expert chef Gerry Craig and his wife Cathy.
I always think that the mark of an exceptional restaurant is that having been presented with a menu comprising a choice of five alternatives for each of the three courses plus a selection of specials, one is left drooling at the prospect at the feast to follow, and with an almost impossible task of having to select from amongst the mouth-watering possibilities, and thus it was so unusual that on this occasion the three of us completely coincided in our choices for the starter and main courses (both from the choice of specials): Sauteed king prawns in a garlic and parsley butter followed by fillet of Halibut with a white wine, dill and cream sauce with a hint of tomato, accompanied by a selection of vegetables and potato. This choice attracted a small supplementary cost to the normal two or three course fixed price arrangement that is offered. Our selections diverged when choosing sweets, my cousin selecting ice cream, her husband the warm lemon tart with lemon curd ice cream and a raspberry drizzle while I selected the sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and cream..
Before our meals we each had a G&T, a bottle of 'Stablemate' Sauvignon Blanc was consumed with the meal and we had coffee (accompanied by homemade chocolates) to complete the titivation of our tastebuds!
Our verdict on the meal? Absolutely first class! The king prawns kicked off the meal in jolly fine style and all three of us were licking our lips at the delicate flavourings and meaty prawns along with which we were treated to some excellent home made bread. Halibut is a favourite fish of us all and the generous portions we all enjoyed were demolished with hardly a word passing amongst us, so engrossed and impressed were we with the truly sensational flavourings, the freshness of the fish itself, and a splendid assortment of vegetables in just the right quantities for our requirements. In addition, the Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect accompaniment to these two courses.
I must admit that I was anticipating the creme brulee for my sweet course (a Blueberry one on this occasion) as I had done on the first two visits, but in discussion of preferring a "lightish" sweet to complete my meal I was encouraged to try the sticky toffee pudding - and sure enough it was a complete triumph, and much lighter in texture when compared with any other creations masquerading under the same description elsewhere, and perfectly flavoured. No wonder Le Petit Canard has an AA rosette (as they have done for many years past, from the awards proudly displayed in the restaurant). The lemon tart was the usual triumph apparently, while the ice cream left my cousin slightly bemused as it seemed rather less sweet than usually encountered. Cathy explained that this was as it should be, as most who have it do so in accompaniment of a something already quite sweet.
Clearly, this is not an establishment that rests on bygone laurels, and on the evidence of another very fine meal, Gerry and Cathy should enjoy a healthy trade for as long as they choose to continue their wonderful culinary enterprise (they've been doing it for 12 twelve years so far, apparently!)
I look forward to returning to "the Duck" again in the not too distant future, and completely understand how it has become the favourite restaurant of my cousin and her husband. It is also somewhere that I can recommend unreservedly to everyone else.
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