Review: The Duck at Yeoford
Cor, love a duck? Yeoford's only village pub has talented new owners and a ruddy-gorgeous new look. You'd be quackers not to get to down there quick!
I’m soooo excited to tell you about this delightful new duckie in the village of Yeoford. It’s not been open long and although Sawdays are coming to review it soon – Muddy was first through the door *buffs fingernails* so it falls to me to tell you the honest truth… that it’s completely fabulous. The decor, the food, the buzz. Everything.
Previously called The Mare and Foal, it was bought by James and Sarah Parkinson and opened back in March after a massive zhuzhing-up. James was previously executive chef for Von Essen Hotels and the food and beverage operations manager for Luxury Family Hotels – and he worked with Gordon Ramsay at his Chelsea gaffe, The Aubergine. Sarah’s an ex-AA inspector and was GM at Lewtrenchard Manor. It explains why they’re getting everything so right: they clearly know what they’re doing.
The only pub in the village, The Duck is one of those all-too familiar tales of a run-down pub closing, the villagers trying to buy it and then – in this case – a miracle! The perfect couple come to the rescue. Not only that, Sarah and James plan to turn the room just left of the main entrance into the village shop, so the good folk of Yeoford must be thanking their lucky stars. I know I would be.
And no designated driver needed here – Yeoford is on the scenic Exeter-Barnstaple Tarka Line and is just 17 minutes by train from the city.
It’s your classic modern pub, tastefully making the most of the old fireplaces, wooden floors and windows, enhanced with brand-new floor tiling, muted paintwork and paintings for sale on the wall that you actually want to buy.
There’s lots of detail and quality craftsmanship; linen at the windows and in the striped serviette on your lap.
Nice loos and toiletries too, with original Beano cartoons on the walls in the gents (so I’m told – even I’m not that nosey).
You can perch at the bar; cosy into the snug with its booth seating or in the restaurant where where Mr Muddy and I sat. Our table for two had both chairs facing slightly out into the room: it was clever how they’d managed to create that feeling of a privacy in a crowded room.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Mr M and I arrived at 7pm on a Friday night and it was already buzzing, so we stopped by the bar for a choice of 20 wines by the glass (25 more by the bottle including a posh Fine & Rare list).
It was served in a tumbler, less formal than a wine glass, a tactile European touch. There are local Otter and Sandford ales and cider on tap and a house beer called Muddy Duck.
The menu comes on a wooden clipboard menu which changes seasonally and a blackboard of specials brought to the table which changes daily, including Thai fish cakes and rump of lamb. The choice is modern British – gastro pub fare.
Starters was a choice of five including chicken, squid, 2 veggie options and soup.
I went for arancini balls, amazingly fresh for something fried and topped with tendrilly pea-shoots sitting on a mix of mushroom, capers, radish, flakes of shallot – loads of delicious and artfully arranged ingredients that worked so well together and made every mouthful taste slightly different.
Mr M fancied the squid which came arranged like an armadillo, with a wealth of julienne-style garden veg, and just as salty as you’d want something from the sea to be. It was blindingly obvious from the first mouthful, this was going to be GOOD: a magnet for munchers; a place you want to come back tomorrow (and the next day).
For mains, I went for the local Creedy chicken (Creedy Carver Farm at nearby Crediton is famed for their organically farmed duck and poultry) – so succulent and moist, on a bed of baby corn, green bean and samphire with the best crispy layered potato gratin I’ve ever tasted.
Mr M honed in on the plaice, so melt-in-the-mouth it was a struggle not to eat his dinner and mine, with broccoli spears and buttery herbs. Everything was served with elegant British-made cutlery and tactile crockery, with a copper-topped cruet and a scented pot of thyme on the table. I’m sure a good dish doubles the flavour factor.
THE SWEET STUFF
The dessert menu offered madeleines – something I’ve not seen anywhere recently – which came out slightly sticky and squishy with a pot of warm chocolate praline and a ball of cold salted caramel ice-cream topped with a sprig of mint, a delicious contrast.
I stole a mouthful of Mr M’s passion-fruit and pineapple cheesecake, which was as light and fresh as a sorbet: far too easy to scoff down even after the generous mains.
We could have had a pudding wine with dessert, or a splash of port or limoncello but an early start the next day meant we finished with a rich, strong coffee served with a pot of rough-cut sugar cubes in rustic crockery. Almost too pretty to drink, as my mum might say.
Definitely. There is a child’s menu with burgers and pizza type food and a soon to be extended play area out in the large turfed garden. I have to say, the service was really slick too. Everything came out quickly which is a boon when you’ve got easily bored Mudlets with you.
There’s a private Creedy Room next to the bar for parties up to 12, with the option of a few more if you don’t mind seating the littlies at a separate table *as if*. James has worked with lots of talented cheferati, so future guest chef nights are in the offing – I’ll be the first to let you know when.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Go NOW: it won’t be long before this place is booked-up every night.
Good for: anyone who loves brilliantly prepped food; gastro-pub style; long wine lists; ducks (of the cooked and painted variety.)
Not for: lovers of English wine: there’s none on the list (yet).
The damage: Excellent value: home-made bar nibbles from £2; starters from £7; mains from £14.
The Duck at Yeoford, The Village, Yeoford, Crediton, EX17 5JD Tel: 01363 85273