Things have changed at the Crow’s Nest over the last year – and they’re likely to change a lot more.

But that’s exactly how executive chef Ese Kousin likes it.

The 33-year-old has been the executive chef for Bournemouth-based Black Label events for two-and-a-half years, splitting his time between the Poole Park eaterie, part of the Sevens Boat Shed building by the lake, AFC Bournemouth and outside catering.

“Everything has got to evolve,” he said.

“When I first came here it was an Italian bistro,” he remembers.“It took a long time for people to stop asking why were weren’t doing pizza and pasta. I’ve changed the menu and the emphasis now is on fresh food, freshly prepared by chefs who love what they do.

“A year ago the food was different to how it is now. Not radically. Just little bits and pieces which make the food that little bit better.

“We are always looking for that extra per cent somewhere along the line.”

Ese and his team are proud to make everything – even childrens’ fishfingers – from scratch, and know every last ingredient they use.

Even the bread, whether it be scones, cheese rolls or sour dough bread, is produced by an artisan baker and not bought in from a supplier chain.

“The menu is leaning towards fish, because we are near the coast,” said Ese.

“Everything is British, so it’s modern-style British. We use Lulworth scallops, Hampshire meats, the cheeseboard is British, there are no French cheeses on there.”

These are the little touches which give the restaurant that extra edge.

That and the fact it’s clear Ese knows his stuff.

Originally from London, he did an apprenticeship at prestigious eaterie The Grill Room in London, but was sent to Bournemouth College for three years to learn his craft.

Once he qualified, Ese returned to London, where he worked at a number of top establishments including soufflé restaurant The InterContinental and members-only club Morton’s in Mayfair.

But he returned to the south coast around eight years ago to help run a friend’s gastro pub, spending time at many of Poole and Bournemouth’s restaurants including Branksome Beach, Landmark, The Print Room, Aruba and West Beach.

During his two years at the latter, Ese oversaw the restaurant achieve two AA rosettes, obtain Michelin recommendation and a mention in The Good Food Guide.

He’s also keen to pass his knowledge to the up-and-coming chefs in his team.

“We all have a lot of input in the menus,” he said.

“We have discussions, it’s very creative. From the commis chef right up to myself, they all have a say in what we put on.”

Ese is constantly working on new ideas to keep the menu fresh and seasonal, and tweaking existing dishes to ensure they are just right.

“I’ve been a chef for about 15 years,” he said.“No matter which restaurant you’re in, you would be surprised – what you start off with you think is really good. A year down the line you’ve refreshed it, you’re looking after it.

“The business is always evolving for the better. It just evolves, it’s the best way forward.”

Signature dish

Halibut with Jerusalem artichokes and Scottish salmon & brown shrimp ravioli

Ese sprinkled the fish with salt and olive oil on both sides and chargrilled for a few minutes until cooked through. You can finish off in the oven or under the grill.

He made some ravioli by filling the pasta with a salmon mousse and brown shrimp and created a puree by sweating shallots and garlic before adding thin slices of artichoke, chicken stock and milk and then blending until smooth.

The fish was served with artichokes roasted with a little salt and pepper and thyme, and some crushed new potatoes, which were mixed with chopped parsley and a little of the artichoke puree.