The Curator Kitchen, Totnes: restaurant review
We head to The Curator Kitchen in Totnes for bold Italian flavours, lip-smacking wines and a hotline to Italy’s finest exports
In a nutshell
Tucked away above its sister café (The Curator Café), The Curator Kitchen is the first restaurant opening from Italian-born Matteo Lamaro. Seasonal menus and authentic Italian cookery are kicked up a notch at this tiny modern osteria thanks to Matteo’s two passions; exceptional produce and his homeland.
Heading up the kitchen is Eddy Stoddart, a Devon-born chef with an international résumé of kitchen residencies, most notably Nahm in Bangkok which is listed in the world’s 50 best restaurants.
There’s a surprising number of chefs accompanying him in the kitchen considering the number of covers (26) at this pocket-size restaurant, but then there’s fresh pasta to make twice a day, everyday, and four varieties of bread each evening that aren't going to bake themselves.
What are they cooking
Though the cooking is impressive, it’s the produce that shines here. From the charcuterie to the wine, if it’s not imported from Matteo’s hand-picked producers around Italy, it’s sourced from a handful of local West Country suppliers.
The fortnightly-changing menu, with just three options for each course, is pasted up on the walls, meaning no noses buried in booklets. Dishes are designed to be shared, so expect tabletops littered with dishes and tangled arms dipping and diving for their next hit, making for a relaxed and sociable dining experience.
Light, contemporary but with notable character, The Curator Kitchen makes good company for Totnes’ emerging modern dining scene. Inside, the social style of feasting means there’s a buzzy atmosphere, heightened by the noise of excited chefs flowing from the open kitchen.
The knowledgable servers recommend to make like an Italian and sample the offering in antipasti, primi and secondi courses. Kick things off with that aforementioned freshly baked bread – the garlic infused loaf with a rosemary salt crust is unreal – if you can resist third and fourth helpings you’ve got some impressive willpower going on.
Guaranteed, any of that self restraint will be long gone by the time the antipasti arrives. With a swift crunch, golden-crusted arancini reveal earthy mushrooms and a molten cheese centre, making good use of the tapenade spiked flatbread as delicious mopping material.
For primi, indulge in silky ribbons of fettuccine laced with a rich, fruity duck ragu, or brave the fiery broccoli, goat’s curd, chilli and mint orecchiette. Seasoned lamb chops hit the open alla brace coals (Italian barbecue) for secondi, with a perfect charred exterior to pink interior ratio, though meaty Brixham skate with crispy capers, and crisp chilli polenta with tomatoes, spinach and cacioricotta will make choosing just one main course an issue.
And pudding? It has to be Matteo’s brother’s warm panettone direct from the motherland, drizzled with a sticky homemade orange liqueur and topped with ice cream – this is what Italian dreams are really made of.
There’s real potential for designated-driver-disagreement here, wines are individually selected by Matteo and imported straight from Italy, most only being found at
The Curator Kitchen this side of the channel. The list is small, but staff are clued-up and on-hand to make insightful suggestions to match your meal.
Not to be missed on a trip to the south coast, The Curator Kitchen does modern Italian cuisine exceptionally well. Even better, the seasonal menus and reasonable price tag warrant a return trip.
2 The Plains, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5DR
Words by Kathryn Lewis
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