The Rodean in Kenton has long been talked about as a firm favourite for a special treat and now I know why. With a contemporary take on classic dining and a warm welcome from co-owner Lizzy Tilt (husband Matthew is the award-winning chef in the kitchen), it’s a great spot to celebrate life’s achievements, or perhaps just because it’s a Friday night. We were raising a toast to the fact that we survived the slightly hairy cab ride from Exeter, but that’s another story.
Housed in a former butcher’s shop in the heart of this lovely village, the Rodean offers a calm interior that puts the food firmly at the centre of the story. Small details – such as the sweet chilli olives and homemade marmite bread – set the scene and what followed was rather splendid.
I started with Pot of the Sea – a glorious little deconstructed fish pie which was pumped with white fish, squid and mussels, and surrounded by gems of piped mash potato on a clamshell. A bit quirky and utterly delicious, it was more than a match for my other half’s caramelised cauliflower tartlet, which resembled a Miro painting on the plate and was just as special on the palate. The combination of apple and golden raisin completed the picture.
Our main courses conveyed just how well exemplary ingredients are treated here: the roasted duck breast was exquisitely pink, while the venison was smooth and satiny soft. Both dishes also offered an element of surprising sub-plot on the plate, with a perfect little duck leg confit bonbon for me, and taste-packed buttons of puréed butternut squash with the venison.
While the other side of the table went all grown up with a quintet of wonderful West Country cheeses, served with quince jelly, I chose full decadence in a baked dark chocolate tart that doubled down with a caramel chocolate mousse on the side. Swoon. Closing the adventure with tantalising petit fours, the Rodean really knows how to create a meal to remember. Don’t wait for something to celebrate, get along now.