Country pub taken over by couple intent on bringing back the winning ways

An ambitious young chef has taken the reins at The Falcon Inn in Fotheringhay and is looking to restore the glory days when the pretty, stone built country pub enjoyed quite an enviable reputation as a gastropub.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 6:34 am
Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.

When I last visited (in a professional capacity) the place was riding on the crest of a wave – a serial winner of the Northamptonshire Dining Pub of the Year award and mentions in the Good Pub Guide, Michelin and others.

When Zak Perrin moved in at the beginning of December the food offering was a bar menu and he quickly set about introducing an a la carte option, which has proved a smart move.

Zak – and partner Madison Keys who runs front of house – met when they both worked at The Talbot in Oundle: Zak was head chef having previously worked locally at the Bell Inn at Stilton and Clarkes in the city centre.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Zak Perrin and Madison Keys who have taken over The Falcon Inn at Fotheringhay

He also had a spell in France, where he was immersed in French and Japanese cuisines – and this shows in the dishes on offer at the Falcon.

“We decided about a year ago that we would open our own place,” said Zak. “We looked at a few places but we felt this was ideal and Sally (Facer, the owner since 2007) has been brilliant.

“There was just a bar menu when we came in on December 6. We have kept that but we introduced the a la carte menu too.

“We don’t want to make the food offering too exclusive, but we do want The Falcon to be a destination pub. “We want to get it back to what it was once, a few years ago when it was winning awards.”

Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.

After a busy festive period they closed for a week and Zak sat down with his kitchen team to come up with the new menu.

I started with tea-smoked breast of duck, confit leg croquette, braised lentils and pickled carrots (£8.50). I didn’t get tea but there was a great smokiness about the meat and the croquette was delightfully crisp. The lentils had a great flavour too, with the little bit of pickle adding to the mix.

Donna had the Japanese-sounding mackerel sujimi with poached rhubarb and melon radish (£8). Again, a great flavour combination, if a tad on the small side.

I loved everything about my main course – seared ribeye, beef cheek tortellini, brocolli puree, pickled kohlrabi with a red wine reduction (£18).

Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.

The ribeye was fantastic, the pasta was a little thick but the tortellini filling was delicious, the veg added a bit of texture, the pickle added contrast and it was all knitted together by a terrific reduction.

Miso-roasted cauliflower, pak choi and smoked aubergine (£15) sounded right up Donna’s street. The pak choi was nicely cooked, the aubergine tasted great and the cauli had plenty of bite but the miso sauce was just too salty for both our palates. A shame when it looked so appealing.

My sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream ((£6.50) ticked all the boxes, and a decent portion too, but while the blood orange pana cota (£6) was subtly citric, it seemed overset and so heavy. The glazed orange slice and an orange gel were nice touches though.

Service was friendly and attentive without being fussy, and there was clearly great attention to detail in preparation and presentation - even the children’s meals. The cheese and tomato pasta sauce was excellent and the proper home made chips and breadcrumbed chicken breast a treat for a five year-old.

Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.

Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay

Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.
Brad Barnes dines at The Falcon Inn, at Fotheringhay.