The recent appointment of Adam Page as Head Chef at The Owl and the Pussycat in Teignmouth meant that I was lucky enough to be asked back there to try this young chef’s food. My wife and I knew it would be good. Its reputation for fine dining is well established – owner Mokhless Bouzayen and his wife, Sandra, have been serving delicious dishes here for six years.
Our amiable host made us feel very welcome and we were shown to a table in the cosy restaurant looking on to the kitchen, where we could see our dishes being deftly prepared by Adam. Having worked at Southernhay House and Burgh Island, he is no stranger to serving restaurant-style cuisine and I was particularly impressed by his sense of colour and presentation.
After devouring a rustic homemade roll, peppered with rosemary and served warm, I started my meal with seared monkfish tail, vanilla confit potato and spiced gazpacho sauce. The meaty fish stood up well to the spicy kick delivered by the sauce, while the vanilla added a mellow creaminess to the potato. My wife’s tortellini trio came al dente; a bite revealed a cloud of fluffy ricotta and a gentle hint of chive. The flavours were expertly balanced – each element could be enjoyed, while the rosemary butter sauce enveloped the palate, cocooning the taste of the dish. “The key is the butter sauce in this starter,” says Adam. “Burning it is easy to do, so it’s vital to get it right.”
Chicken was my main course choice. It was a lunchtime when we visited, which is partly why I chose a lighter meat, but I wondered how Adam would cook this somewhat ordinary bird. The succulent roasted breast was served with fondant potato and a chorizo boudain that spiced up the dish, both in colour and flavour. The carrot purée was smooth and flavoursome; its bright orange, along with the green spinach and deep red chorizo was a colour combination worthy of a rainbow. Looks do count!
My wife’s plate looked equally pretty. A tower of crushed potato with chive, fennel cevich and a hake fillet was a medley of greens and yellows, punctuated by small cubes of red tomato. Particularly pleasing was the potato – fresh, crunchy and mouthwatering. The flakes of hake dissolved on the tongue, the fennel shook up the flavours with a sharp tang. All, once again, was balanced in texture and taste.
Although I tried to eat all of the chocolate and almond marquise while my wife was chatting to Mokhless, she intervened at my penultimate mouthful. This smooth, cool, subtly nutty, wholly chocolately dessert was difficult to surrender, but she only had one spoonful, thankfully.
Foodies will have fun here, so if you are on the hunt for some first-class eating then look no further. The menu changes every six weeks – do go and try it.