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Lymington couple Steve Hurst and Vanessa Cooper open new restaurant The Magic Duck

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AFTER running the Fleur de Lys pub in Pilley for seven years, Lymington couple Vanessa Cooper and Steve Hurst have embarked on an exciting new venture with the opening of their restaurant, The Magic Duck.

After completely refurbishing the premises in St Thomas Street – formerly the Lymington Burger and Lobster Bar – the pair are finally welcoming customers and say the feedback so far has been fantastic.

“This is such a fantastic, intimate little restaurant,” said Vanessa. “It’s a 500-year-old Grade II listed building so it has so much character.

Steve Hurst and Vanessa Cooper
Steve Hurst and Vanessa Cooper

“It was a shell when we moved in, though, so we have given it a complete makeover.

“We’ve been fully booked every Friday and Saturday night, with a mix of new customers and those loyal to us at the Fleur.

“They’ve been hugely complimentary of the food and the atmosphere, which is great because we really want people to have fun when they come in here.”

Chef Steve describes the menu as modern English but with a classical twist, with a highlight being his signature dish and one that he is famous for since his Fleur de Lys days: the aged fillet beef Wellington with brandy peppercorn sauce.

“We use the best products we can source,” said Steve, who formerly worked at the Montagu Arms in Beaulieu.

The Magic Duck is in a 500-year-old Grade II listed building
The Magic Duck is in a 500-year-old Grade II listed building

“But it’s finding that balance between creating a high-end product and keeping the cost within people’s budget.

“For us it’s about keeping that standard and consistency of quality food and great service, and making sure the menu is diverse.

“We’ve had a cracking start but what we really want to do is keep that success going and keep changing things up to keep it interesting.

“In running any good business you work really hard to stabilise it before you can truly start to enjoy it.”

Steve is looking to take on a chef to join him in the kitchen, and would ideally like an apprentice.

“The trouble with hospitality is that it’s now viewed as a stop-off point rather than a trade and that really needs to change,” he said.

The Magic Duck's beef Wellington
The Magic Duck's beef Wellington

“It offers a great career and many people working in the industry have a lot of passion for what they do.”

Being small and intimate, The Magic Duck also caters for private parties and weddings, offering bespoke menus and service.

From September, the restaurant will be serving Sunday lunch on the last weekend of every month.

Dishes from the menu include seared Shetland scallops, veloute, crispy bacon and sea herbs; Scottish smoked haddock fish cake with Wye Valley asparagus and lobster bisque; and Cornish crab with pink grapefruit salad and red pepper coulis.

For more information, visit www.themagicduck.com

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