Lunch With The Spotted Dog in Barnston
Essex Life enjoys a light summer lunch with Simon Edwards, chef and owner of The Spotted Dog in Barnston...
Simon Edwards | The Spotted Dog, Barnston
SIMON EDWARDS and his wife Anita purchased more of a scruffy mutt than a spotted dog back in November 2009. ‘Having been closed for a year, it was dirty and disgusting when we first began work,’ Simon explains.
However, the couple relished the idea of a challenge and Simon could see then, even in its dilapidated state, how to bring this old dog back to life. In just five months the team had transformed it into a contemporary 40-cover restaurant with a cosy bar area and opened for business on April 1, 2010.
Simon didn’t begin life as a chef. In fact, it was horses that held his interest as a youngster. He would travel the length and breadth of the UK as a semi-professional horse jumper working for owners. He was on the verge of turning professional when a major sponsorship deal went pear-shaped. ‘I had no alternative but to pack it in as I couldn’t afford to go it alone,’ Simon explains.
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He moved into catering at the age of 16. ‘I wasn’t any good at anything else,’ says Simon. ‘I’d spent so long in the saddle, I’d let the rest of my studies slide at school.’
However, he’d always enjoyed cooking so took on his first role working in Basildon. Then he moved to Thurrock Technical College for some formal training and when he left he went to work at The Bell at Horndon on the Hill. Simon still retains a good working relationship with The Bell and returned there on more than one occasion to work, and has since sent two of his commis chefs there to work. When a role came up in the Channel Islands, Simon jumped at the opportunity. ‘It was chef for The Old Court House on St Aubin’s Harbour – Bergerac’s local if you’ve ever watched the TV series.’
Simon remained there for ten years and learned the art of cooking some excellent fish dishes, a skill he’s brought to his menus ever since. At The Spotted Dog, fish features heavily on the menu so I was hoping we might be treated to at least one fish dish.
We began our lunch together with pigeon breast slices. Pink and succulent, they were surrounded by a rich, dark balsamic jus and in the centre was a round of black pudding topped with sweet potato puree. The balance of tastes, often tricky with gamey meat, was excellent and the spectrum of sweet potato and dark jus gave the dish plenty of depth.
Main course was one of Simon’s celebrated fish dishes. Thick cut fillets of cod on a wonderful bed of king prawn and tomato stew. Subtle, warm, spicy overtones flecked the tomato salsa-style stew but not so much as to overpower the fresh white flakes of fish.
To end we enjoyed a pyramid of praline parfait with fresh cream and a mini tower of caramel mousse, light as air and a great way to round off such a pleasant summer lunch.
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The Spotted DogBishops GreenBarnstonDunmowCM6 1NF01245 231 598