Wet. Windy. Cold. Standard Sunday in November. But with a difference – On this day 35 years ago, my wonderful in laws were wed, and so to celebrate en famille (Unfortunately without Darling Husband), we’re speeding off to Kent.
Chapter One is a one Michelin-star commanding restaurant, based rather unusually out in the suburbs of Kent rather than the standard West End. The distance is misleading though and a swift 30 minute drive later, we were pulling up.
The prices are another pleasant surprise – Sunday night sees 3 courses for £31.95 and the choices are mouth watering. For a set menu, it’s extensive featuring over 6 options. What is a little annoying is the randomly spliced supplements adorning the set menu. 1 menu supplement seems reasonable, 3 seemed excessive.
Smart but simply decorated, it’s all black and white with splashes of red lamps lining the walls for some added impact.
Onto the food now and I’m afraid I’m going to have to go on another Bread Rave. Oh the bread. First up, White with Rosemary. That was inhaled in about 20 seconds flat and I had to stop myself from snatching at the bread basket when it came around again. This time I plumped for Focaccia. Wow, it’s not like any Focaccia I’ve ever had. Cheesy (Is that normal for focaccia?), buttery, dense, creamy. Mmmmm.
Course One, I chose Jugged Hare and Hare Satay. Having no idea what a Jugged Hare was, I was very intrigued when a pot of what looked like a Mini Shepherd’s Pie arrived. One bite later, I was in Hare Heaven. I could eat a vat of it and be happy. It was rich, creamy, intense of flavour and so fab I bullied everybody else into having a bite. Not smart in hindsight as that left less for me. The Satay in comparison was nothing special. It was not a particularly soft piece of meat and I resented every mouthful it took away from my jugged pot.
Course 2: Pan fried Gurnard, late summer trufles, with Gnocchi, Trompette mushrooms and Tiger prawns. You don’t often see Gurnard on a menu and it definitely had it’s due. Firm, beautifully cooked and seasoned, it was a great piece of fish. But in this case, it was it’s accompaniments that blew me away. Never have I tasted gnocchi that could impact so much flavour in one pasta mouthful. The trompette mushrooms packed a punch but didn’t overpower and the tiger prawns (Tiger might be a bit of an exaggeration here…) were sweet bites of goodness.
I must pause in my food reminisces to talk about the service. Most restaurants (Especially those graced with the Fine Dining tag) do a very good dose of service. But here, we had something not often found – genuine friendliness. They didn’t just offer the requisite politeness, they laughed, they smiled, they actually cared. And what a difference it made.
Finally, bellies straining at the seam, it was time for dessert. I plumped for the Iced Peanut Parfait with Lime & Raspberry sorbets. Neither of the sorbets were to my taste, being a bit too tart for my liking, but don’t let that put you off – I’m just not a favour of the sweet/sour tastes. The peanut parfait though was a treat. Not to sweet, not too peanuty, it was the perfect way to end the meal.
But wait, there was more. Salted Caramel and Chocolate/ Anise Petit Fours and a Happy Anniversary plate for the In laws.
They even did Leftover Petit Fours stuffed into a tin foil swan to take home to Darling Husband. And the best part – opened up Swannie at home to discover they’d thrown in some more Truffles and a couple of Mini Macaroons. Wow.