Anna Turns samples Matt Buzzo’s Devon specials at the Waterside Bistro in Totnes
5 June 2014
Whatever night of the week, there’s always a buzzy atmosphere at the Waterside Bistro. Chef and proprietor Matt Buzzo’s passion for sustainable fish and shellfish shines through in his dishes, and it is great to see such clear signposting on the menu – Devon-caught crab, steamed River Exe mussels and whole grilled Cornish sardines, all marked with the eco-label: Marine Stewardship Council Sustainable.
Dishes include bistro food such as Waterside specialty pizzas and burgers, along with à la carte choices. The specials were fresh lobster, crab and sea trout caught by a local fisherman near Staverton. Much of the Waterside’s fish comes from either S&J Fisheries in Ivybridge or Kingfisher Brixham. Other local suppliers are Bridgetown Butchers just a couple of hundred yards up the road, Challices Fruit and Veg, Country Cheeses, Bell and Loxton rapeseed oil and Creedy Carver free-range chicken. Local drinks include Ashridge Cider’s Devon Blush, Luscombe’s soft drinks, Sharpham's wines and beers from Quercus and Otter breweries.
Despite tempting alternatives, my choice of starter was always going to be meaty (I couldn’t be a vegetarian for more than a week when I was 14). The Chinese-style crispy duck pancakes came served with plum sauce, spring onion and cucumber: the shredded Sladesdown Farm duck was full of flavour, the pancakes slightly floury. My husband chose the steamed mussels marinière in a white wine and garlic sauce, served with crusty bread. A classic dish cooked with competence - the River Exe mussels were a plump, and there were plenty.
To follow, my wild River Dart sea trout was served with steamed, seasonal vegetables. I chose pesto sauce to accompany the fish but the alternatives - garlic butter or chilli oil - would have been just as tasty. The fish had a delicate flavour, yet the fillet was still meaty, and the crispy skin added texture to this wholesome dish. My husband ordered the slow-cooked confit leg of Sladesdown Farm duck, which was soft and tender. Sourced from a poultry farm in Ashburton, this produce had travelled precisely 8.8 miles – not bad in terms of food miles, I thought! Served with a pot of Dauphinoise potatoes and veg, it was deceptively filling.
However, that didn’t stop ‘someone’ indulging in the Salcombe Dairy ice cream sundae, complete with marshmallows and chocolate flake. I enjoyed/devoured/scoffed the rich chocolate brownie, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce.
Atmosphere is a key part of any dining experience, and the Waterside Bistro is expertly run with smooth transitions from relaxed breakfasts, quick coffee stops, working lunches to informal, top quality dinners. Long may success for the Buzzo’s continue.
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