If like me whenever you check out of a hotel room many of the toiletries “accidentally” fall into your wash bag the odds are they will have been supplied by Baylis and Harding, one of the leading brands in that field.
But what we have in the Warwickshire hamlet of Armscote is the reverse; Baylis and Harding are the people behind this boutique hotel and restaurant.
I have known the Fuzzy Duck or to be more accurate the pub in its previous incarnations for over 40 years and it was difficult to believe I was in the same place, indeed so stunning is the transformation I had to return to my car to check from the map and make sure I was in the right place.
The project came about when brother and Sister Tania Fossey and Adrian Slater family’s local village pub in Armscote was boarded up. Tania comments, “It’s a great shame that so many rural communities have no centre so when the pub came up for sale we decided to do something about it and put something back into the community. Our vision was a small but perfectly formed boutique B&B and country eatery which would not only be a lovely place for locals but would also establish the little hamlet on the gourmet map too.”
I was met by Manager Martin Deveraux who gave me a brief tour, the four bedrooms, all named after ducks some of which ca be found on the nearby village pond , reek of luxury from the large comfortable beds, the Frette linen, towels and bathrobes and as you would expect enough Baylis and Harding toiletries to start a shop.
Martin is very proud of The Fuzzy Duck, and rightly so. But it’s the little touches that impress, the neat line of Hunter wellies for those guests that wish to explore the Warwickshire countryside, the cleverly designed separate entrance to the bedrooms for those late returning visitors.
The bar and dining areas are as sumptuous as the rest of the hotel, my favourite being “The Garage” named after is former use and decorated with some terrific black and white iconic motor racing photographs, though on a nice day I would no doubt be out in the garden or the outside eating area.
But you know me, the main reason I am here is for the food, Chef Richard Craven has worked in the area for some years apart from a couple of years in South Africa, he has a passion for working for some of the best food producers in the country and is excited by the fact that many of them are on the doorstop enabling him and his team to produce amazing tasty seasonal food.
Though he does confess to enjoying egg and cress sandwiches from garage forecourt shops. !!!
My meal started with a little amuse bouche of a scotch quails egg or should that be a quail scotch egg, either way it was delicious, this was followed by a whole fresh baked loaf with a pat of excellent butter from Ross on Wye.
Starter was an individual duck and crayfish ravioli which was light as a feather, a ducks feather presumably.
I am a fish man, always have been always will be, no choice of course as I am named after the worlds greatest fisherman, so the main of Dover Sole , one of the great fish, was right up my street together with seasonal vegetables it was perfect.
I had chat with chef Richard who was equally excited about being able to offer Dover Sole on the menu as its price often makes it difficult.
I passed on desert, but having enjoyed a couple of glasses of thirst quenching Pinot Grigio I just had a single espresso which was the perfect finish to an excellent lunch.
So there we are The Fuzzy Duck, it has a great future and I can see it becoming a firm favourite on the local eating scene, wether you be going for Lunch or dinner or if you want to make it a really special visit and an overnight stay as well.
Reviewer: Peter Jones