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The New Angel


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It is rumoured that John Burton Race has purchased The Carved Angel in Dartmouth. In case you don't know, its one of the original gastronomic restaurants in the UK, originaly owned by Joyce Molyneux who worked for George Perry Smith at The Hole in The Wall in Bath in the early 60's.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Hm... I sense a lot of love for the man...

Ok - other than the fact that he came across on the TV program as a horrible, disfunctional dad (which is none of my business), and a somewhat distant husband (ditto), not to mention the sort of annoying over-achiever that makes me want to go back to bed ("I'm a world renowned chef!" he kept shouting) why aren't we applauding his return?

God knows this country needs all the help it can get. If this man can make foie gras dance like a chihuahua on fiesta day, or braise veal cheeks to the unctuousness of baby food, what do we care if he drowns kittens in burlap sacks on his day off, or supports Manchester United?

Or is it cos it's raining, and we all feel we've been a bit too nice of late, and someone needs a good egullet kicking?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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It is rumoured that John Burton Race has purchased The Carved Angel in Dartmouth

Has this report been confirmed, Moby? What's your source?

The Carved Angel, located on the waterfront of a lovely Devon town that is still a working fishing port, has in recent years been under the part ownership of chef Peter Gorton (along with the renowned Horn of Plenty in Gulworthy) since Joyce Molyneux retired. It is one of the great legendary restaurants of Britain and we have had many many sensational meals here (though admittedly not in the last year or two). Stylish yet informal, with one of the first open plan kitchens, it has its own unique style imposed by Joyce that has lasted even under new ownership. We've taken our children there since they were babies, and yes sometimes gone around by boat (about 20 miles down the coast from us) to enjoy a lunch (still salty and rather exhilarated from the passage) of local shellfish (especially Dartmouth crab) and seafood. Yes, the style of cooking changed when Joyce and her excellent chef Nick Coiley (now of Agaric, Ashburton) left, but the place was still special and Peter was doing some good things.

The original very informal Carved Angel Café in Fosse St Dartmouth is still there, too, and subsequently spawned a Carved Angel Café on the Cathedral Yard of Exeter which we drop into from time to time. It's OK. My understanding was that there were plans to take the concept further afield (as seems to be happening more and more these days - the dreaded 'branding' of good food).

I don't know John Burton Race or his cooking though I did see the tv show once or twice. I'm surprised at the apparent animosity towards the guy. Is this because of the telly show or for other reasons? I personally didn't have a problem with the show, found his self-deprecating humour and dysfunctional approach to life in France rather amusing. And the man clearly has a passion for food.

IMO, what a place like the CA needs is a proprietor-chef who can take the wonderful Devon produce, especially fish and shellfish landed literally on the doorstep, and produce original and creative cuisine in this unique and special location. Dartmouth will never be the next Padstow, thank god, (for a start, it's a bugger to get to in summer by road) and it is wonderful spot to visit: I urge you to make the effort to get down here.

I'll certainly be looking forward to following this story and to an early summer visit the Carved Angel, whatever the outcome.

MP

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We're planning a trip down to Cornwall to see the granny this Summer, so Basildog's is in order, and maybe the Angel also can go on the list.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Dartmouth will never be the next Padstow, thank god...

PS No offence to Basildog (or any other Padstonians) and we too will look forward to a visit to your restaurant this summer. It sounds wonderful!

In mitigation for the comment, I'd just say that we've been coming to Padstow for yonks (my wife virtually all her life as her family had a summer house in nearby Treyarnon). These days we love to camp at Mother Ivy's. So I guess I feel able to comment on Padstein as we've seen it evolve. Over the decades, we remember Rick's place when it was a genuinely humble eatery serving, amongst other things, great steaks cooked over charcoal (what 20, 25 years ago?). Then the phenomenon of the Seafood Restaurant, and we'd go down for special occasions, and sometimes stay in the lovely rooms above the restaurant, or else at the almost next door Customs House pub. The restaurant was always brilliant, the food a sensation, and we truly loved it.

Television notoriety, however, I'm afraid has completely changed the character of not just the restaurant but I think it would be fair to say Padstow itself. The empire just continues to grow and grow.

I have the greatest respect for Rick. I love his television shows. He is not only a great chef but a born communicator and I think he comes over with passion, honesty, integrity and incredible enthusiasm for real food, the sort that I like to eat. But on recent visits to the restaurant over the past years, it just is no longer the same as it once was. Is it the food? No. It is still wonderful. Perhaps it's just been the days we've been, but the staff seem tired and jaded, and the clientele has changed significantly: mostly, it seems (sorry) from London, down because the place, because Rick, is famous rather than because they love great food, rather loud and arrogant and, well, irritatingly yaw-yawish.

No, these days if we're down for the day, we far prefer to park in Wadebridge (next time we do, Slacker, I'll make sure and drop into Bintwo), cycle down the Camel Trail along the lovely estuary, and enjoy a delicious fish taco, incredibly good fish & chips, or a plate of Goan fish curry from Rick's Seafood Deli on the fishing quay waterfront.

But of course this is really a different thread to JBR and the Carved Angel. The common themes I suppose are tv, the celebrity chef and restaurants on the water.

MP

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His tv company, optomen, have gently confirmed that a bid has been made for the Carved Angel.

They will presumably be filming him there, then.

Sorry to hear this. That means another great place will inevitably go down the spout. Mass market tv will undoubtedly bring the hoardes to Dartmouth...

MP

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His tv company, optomen, have gently confirmed that a bid has been made for the Carved Angel.

They will presumably be filming him there, then.

Sorry to hear this. That means another great place will inevitably go down the spout. Mass market tv will undoubtedly bring the hoardes to Dartmouth...

MP

John Burton-Race has been a great cook ever since his days at Ortolan (I think it was Ortolan anyway) and has only recently appeared on the TV, only then mainly doing non-cheffy (and occasionally stupid) things. So why wouldn't he be good for the Carved Angel? Since Joyce retired the place is but a pale shadow of its former self and could do with a good kick up the proverbials. I'll be down there again in a couple of months and be happy to return to the Carved Angel if Burton-Race is at the helm.

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Although I never ate there, I believe his stint at the Landmark Hotel in London was generally accepted to be less than stellar which appears to have blotted his copy book somewhat so perhaps he will need to prove himself all over again at The Carved Angel. If he's cooking stuff similar to that which appeared in the French Leave cookbook however, he could well be onto a winner.

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It's a strange thing when a restaurant so well known for a style of cooking is taken over by someone also very well known for a different style.I don't see the attraction of buying a landmark place like the Craved Angel with all it's history,at i,m guessing top dollar, when you will then have to impose your own stamp on the place.Why not buy something cheaper without all the historical baggage?

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did he transfer his stars to the landmark a la marco or win them back? He had 2 didn't he at one point?

completely agree with you basildog but i suppose at the end of the day you can only buy what someone wants to sell so if he wants to capitalise on the momentum of the tv series he needs to be back up and running asap.

I assume buying an established business will aid in that way and no-doubt the tv money will make the deal stack up, but hey, don't forget chefs and business have always been uneasy partners! :biggrin:

cheers

gary

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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did he transfer his stars to the landmark a la marco or win them back? He had 2 didn't he at one point?

He had 2 at L'Ortolan for a few years and the Landmark was rated 2 stars but I'm not sure if they transfered or not. My feeling is that they didn't as there was a bit of a gap between the closure of one and the launch of the other. I could be wrong though.

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It's a strange thing when a restaurant so well known for a style of cooking is taken over by someone also very well known for a different style.I don't see the attraction of buying a landmark place like the Craved Angel with all it's history,at i,m guessing top dollar, when you will then have to impose your own stamp on the place.Why not buy something cheaper without all the historical baggage?

Considering that this report was confirmed by his television production company, it might suggest that the Carved Angel has been chosen primarily because of its televisual appeal (JBR out with the crab fishermen, JBR gathering mushrooms, JBR having a pint and a chat with colourful locals etc etc). No bad thing at all from a tv point of view and I certainly have nothing against the chap. I'm sure he is a great chef. But if the whole thing is telly-driven, it would not be unfair to wonder about his long-term motives and commitment to Dartmouth and this undoubted landmark restaurant. Last year France, this year Dartmouth, where next? And turning the Carved Angel into a media circus would in my opinion be rather a shame. But there we are. Good luck to him, and I'll certainly look forward to trying the place once he settles in.

I was, incidentally, in Dartmouth yesterday and it really is the most gorgeous spot. Parked in Kingswear and took the passenger ferry across the Dart. Didn't eat at the CA (though it was pretty full, nice looking £25 three-course menu). It was a blustery day, showery one minute, brilliantly sunny the next, and we enjoyed instead fish & chips on the quay, watching the river activity and eating with our fingers while dodging the showers. (For the record, excellent cod & chips, freshly fried, very sweet, fresh cod, nice, floury pototoes -- from Skippers). Afterwards, home for the kids to cook a sensational Mother's Day meal.

MP

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But if the whole thing is telly-driven, it would not be unfair to wonder about his long-term motives and commitment to Dartmouth and this undoubted landmark restaurant.

Surely the reverse is true. Rather, he wanted to spend a year in France (that much I believed), and two ways of financing the trip became the tv progs and the cook book - i.e. starting to capitalize on his name.

Equally, starting up a restaurant which you want to compete on a Michelin level must take vast amounts of capital - 1-2 million? By taking over the Carved Angel, (a) it's outside of London, so lower overall costs, plus the UK gourmandise has proven itself to be open to travel, (b) they may have a reasonable kitchen which mets JBR's needs with the minimum of short term investment requirements, and © cutlery, linen, tables, computers etc 'front-of-house' gear also requiring the minimum. After having a hotel-monkey on his back, perhaps he wants to do it on his own. It might be a very simple choice - 60,000 quid La Cornue cooker and falling out of a local fishing boat on telly, or the 700 quid refurbished catering oven?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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