Taste Buds talks to Simon Harrow, owner of The Crabshell Inn in Kingsbridge, about his popular restaurant’s ethos
Growing up in Scarborough, in a family-run, 14-bedroom hotel certainly gave Simon plenty of early insight into the hospitality industry.
“My dad was from the Trusthouse Forte school of chefs and a passionate lover of all things food and wine which, I am delighted to say, has passed through the genes and is what makes me wake up every day with a spring in my step,” Simon says, remembering: “I can still smell the aroma of his split pea, ham hock soup on the stove, served up with homemade bread and proper salt butter!”
Simon’s father’s cooking style was “no fuss, just all flavour”, which is absolutely intrinsic to The Crabshell’s cooking culture. “Our overall passion for this place is to be somewhere you take time to enjoy food, wine and, most of all, company. After all, food is never merely fuel, and is always best served with the to and fro of talk and laughter.
Simon continues: “Having been ensconced at The Crabshell for over a decade and saved it from the developer’s bulldozer, my mission is to continue to keep the location as the heart of the community, and provide opportunities for the next generation to get a real experience of this industry and why it’s something to enjoy, be passionate and proud about.”
When asked about his business ethos, Simon replies: “Don’t stand still… anyone who knows me or has been to The Crabshell will see me moving around, getting a sense of what’s going on, constantly looking at what we could do better – knowing there’s always room to improve.”
He greatly values his team: “Every person who joins The Crabshell crew will be taken on our journey and understand how important their input is… after all, no one person is perfect but I believe a team can be. Investment in the ‘right’ people who share the same values and vision, creates the difference that customers wish for.”
“These last years through Covid have actually been kind enough to bring us a new audience, one that’s keen to discover and really think about food and where it’s come from. It’s no secret here that my home garden is ever expanding into its own mini market garden, with plenty of fresh and ultra-local produce making its way into the kitchen.”
With his political hat on, Simon believes that changes for the good of the people and the planet are on the way with the replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy and the recognition of just how good the quality of life is here in Devon.”
There are a few plans in the offing for spring 2022 to make a bit more of the outdoor space at The Crabshell. “We will not overstretch or overdevelop this spot – respect for our neighbours in this lived-in part of the town is extremely important.”