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Dec 31, 2023
12 of the best Kent restaurants we’ve tried this year | Each week we bring you the county’s most honest food reviews in our Eat My Words column, trying a vast range of restaurants, pubs and cafes the length and breadth of the county. Here, we pick out some of the best and most interesting venues we visited this year... January: Please Sir! In Whitstable In January, we sent Max Chesson to try the much-lauded Whitstable burger joint Please Sir! which is often hailed as producing some of the best examples of the craft in the county. Here’s what he had to say about his visit: Reporter Max Chesson at Please Sir! in Whitstable “I engage with the star attraction first. Each bite of the burger is slightly different. One flaunts the garlic aioli and the meat, the next teases the taste of Red Leicester cheese as it melts into the bacon. “The steak patties are delicate and tender, offering a solid platform for the rest of the ingredients to thrive. The red onion jam is subtle but flavoursome and helps to balance the burger. “I get into a rhythm. One bite of the burger, a few ketchup-covered fries, back to the burger, then a sip of the milkshake. It’s a delightful feast. “The fries - crispy and salted by myself - were unassuming but that’s no bad thing, since I’m not here to talk about potatoes, and it made me savour the delicacy of the Limitless. Burger and fries at Please Sir! “The milkshake is a perfect concoction of Oreos, soft serve and milk. Not too thick, not too thin and bursting with flavour. “The portion size is near enough spot on for me too. The burger fit into my hand like a glove, and the amounts of chips on offer didn’t leave me wanting for more.” SCORES Food: The burger was excellent and arrived promptly. The range of the menu offers variety for those wanting to try something different too. ***** Drink: The milkshake was the perfect consistency with taste to the brim, and there were plenty of options to choose from. ***** Decor: Its wooden tables complemented the not-so-subtle green walls in a way that was inviting. The arcade machine tucked away in the corner was a lovely touch too. ***** Staff: Both Dan and Steve were friendly, charismatic and good-humoured. ***** Price: It’s not something one could afford every week, but for 18 quid I’m more than satisfied with the cost of my meal. **** February: Jerk n Tingz in Dover In February, our man Matt Leclere headed down to Dover for a taste of the Caribbean at Jerk n Tingz , which moved from being a takeaway-only business to opening its first bricks-and-mortar venue. Here’s what Matt made of the meal: We tried Jerk n Tingz in Dover “The main event for me was my first taste of jerk chicken and it was a flavour burst which was everything I was hoping for. “It's hard not to think of comparisons to that peri-peri chain we're all familiar with or the colonel's secret recipe but they can move over – Caribbean-style is how to do chicken. “Being a newbie, I don't know if this is like a Jamaican grandmother's home-cooking but at Jerk n Tingz, it's slightly sweet, sticky and rich, finishing off with a tingling on the lips with heat from chilli. To me, it's delicious. There's excellent veggie options too. “The Ital curry – made with sweet potato, lentils and chickpea – was excellent and one of the best tasting curries around. Put it alongside a jerk-seasoned creamy mac and cheese and perfectly cooked and tasty rice and you've got a banging dining sensation. “Never one to say no to pud, I was tempted by the lemon cheesecake and this was a decadent one and highly recommended with a subtle zing but luxurious and smooth cream cheese topping. We tried Jerk n Tingz in Dover “The surroundings are clean and modern and with the huge Bob Marley mural overlooking the restaurant, the soundtrack of some reggae classics and a few cover versions – including a Caribbean take on an Ed Sheeran classic – it's almost as though you're tricked into thinking you're far from Kent and more like Kingston.” SCORES Food: Absolutely packed with flavour and freshness **** Drink: Excellent choices with a crisp Red Stripe, specialist draught IPA and range of specialist rums **** Decor: Modern with a twist featuring artwork similar to graffiti-style seen on buildings in Jamaica **** Staff: Friendly, helpful and answered all questions about the menu ***** Price: Very good value for money **** March: The Flower Pot in Maidstone In March, Ed McConnell visited The Flower Pot pub in Maidstone , which topped our National Pizza Day poll to find the best slice in Kent. Here’s what our reviewer made of the meal: Pizza at The Flower Pot in Maidstone “The vegetarian pizza in front of us was coupled with my second pint, a tasty Lowline stout (£4.45), and was declared, perhaps prematurely, by my companion to be the best pizza she'd eaten there. “It wasn't my favourite and I thought the courgette could have been seasoned a bit but any concerns were swiftly eased by the arrival of the knock-out sweet potato. “It's the best of The Flower Pot's rapidly-growing menu and combines a crunchy crust and chewy base with well-cooked sweet potato and punchy blue cheese interspersed with pleasant little morsels of walnut. “This pizza is as good as anything I had in Rome but I should declare here I thought the ones in the Italian capital weren't as good as those you can get on the country's coast. “The duck pizza now arrived and I was feeling in good shape to polish it off alone, but my pizza partner, a vegetarian who had earlier warned me off eating too much of "her pizzas" so as to leave room for mine, went feral, scraping bits of bird off here, carving out meat-free-looking corners there. “A sad fall from grace for her but probably a good thing in the long run as by the final few mouthfuls truth be told I was struggling, shovelling in squares of dough through drawn-out gulps of Fyne Ales' Double Disco #2 (£4.85). “It was immature of me, really, to turn an innocent enough pub pizza review into some sort of gross eating challenge, but such is life. “The duck pizza was good by the way, but any more extensive review would be tainted by the way it was eaten.” Pizza at The Flower Pot in Maidstone SCORES Food: As pub pizzas go, top drawer. I'm aware of at least one pub that flogs Iceland versions at 600% mark up. Good luck to them but The Flower Pot clearly doesn't do that. Not better than Rome but I could eat the sweet potato every day ***** Drink: In my humble opinion the best choice in town ***** Decor: Proper pub with modern twists like the screens ****1/2 Staff: They were very pleasant. One reassured me a slightly tangy end-of-the-barrel pint "wouldn't kill me" but was very happy to replace it ***** Price: In this day and age £4.45 for a very nice pint is four-star-worthy. Thanks to half price Pizza Club night, which I think I have mentioned, the pizzas were half price and therefore five-star-worthy but I think, generally speaking, the full price of £12.50 is towards the steeper end **** April: Chingah Habesha in Canterbury In April, I had my first experience of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at Chingah Habesha in Canterbury. Here’s how it went: We tried Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at Chingah Habesha in Canterbury “We had chosen the zigni derho (£15) and the derek tebsi (£15), the former a traditional spicy stew and the latter a dish of pan-cooked strips of dry-aged beef. “The arrival of the meal was a real piece of theatre, with the stew and accompanying injera arriving at our table in a mesob - a basket made of grass and palm leaves which is a treasured icon of Ethiopia and Eritrea. “As there were just two of us eating, we had opted for a small table against the wall. “The mesob was so large it pretty much took up all the available space, so luckily the beef came served in a smaller metal dish kept warm with a candle under the plate holding the meat. Chingah Habesha in Northgate, Canterbury “And cutlery? Not here. This is food to be eaten communally and with the hands, using the soft, pillowy bread as an edible implement. “Tearing strips from the injera, which has a very subtle sourness to it, we tucked into the zigni derho, which featured chicken on the bone and a boiled egg. “The flavours were deep and rich, obtained from what our host described as an hours-long process of reducing the tomato-based sauce and layering in aromatic spices. “Cooked a great deal quicker than the stew, the beef had been fried in a spice mix along with peppers and onions. “While not a melt-in-the-mouth cut, this dish was a meat-lovers delight and packed full of flavour. We tried Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at Chingah Habesha in Canterbury “There was injera left over when we finally decided we couldn't eat a mouthful more, and we both agreed the meal had been fantastic.” SCORES Food: Our introduction to this African cuisine was a delight, home-cooked staples packed with flavour and heart **** Drink: We went with a Coca Cola and an orange Tango, but next time could be tempted by a tea or coffee traditional to Ethiopia and Eritrea *** Decor: No bells and whistles here, this place is all about the cooking *** Staff: The owner was extremely welcoming and was happy to explain his cooking methods to us **** Price: At £34.50 for an extremely tasty and filling meal for two, you really can't go wrong **** May: The Tuck Inn in Newington It wouldn’t be Eat My Words without a review of a good, old-fashioned greasy spoon, and in May we sent Claire McWethy for a fry up at The Tuck Inn . This is what she made of the classic breakfast on offer: Reviewer Claire McWethy sampled breakfast at the Tuck Inn in Newington “I opted for a number 4 (sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and hash brown at £7.70) despite being too embarrassed to expose myself as a cafe rather than caff regular and asking what the B&B was accompanying it. “Customers do rave about what great value the Tuck inn is, so I took a seat in what was signposted as the ‘naughty corner’ with a frothy coffee to consider if I might have bagged an overnight stay into the bargain. “Ten minutes later our order number was bellowed out and I found to my disappointment that B&B in fact stood for bread and butter. Otherwise known as raw toast. It could join the tomatoes. “Apart from that wildcard, it was a solid full English – egg perfectly runny, hash brown crispy and the sausage, well, sausagey. “The plate wasn’t swimming in oil, or the portion so gigantic I needed a half-time break to psych myself up to finish it. Reviewer Claire McWethy sampled breakfast at the Tuck Inn in Newington “My companion cheerfully declared his banana milkshake the quickest he’d ever received and the accompanying sweetcorn salad with his eggs benedict the weirdest. “This is where the superlatives run out, but that’s not to say it wasn’t perfectly good grub, especially when he took time to consider some of the wallpaper pastes masquerading as hollandaise sauces I’ve previously served up at home. “As we were about to leave a ripple of laughter and good-natured heckling went around as order number 69 was announced. “Comforting is the word that best describes the Tuck Inn. From the punny name to its ‘90s Word Art signage and the hodgepodge of mugs that look like they’ve been raided from a uni student’s cupboard after Freshers Fair – mine was a freebie for Dalwood designer flooring – it has a wholly unpretentious, old school, homely feel. “It’s as if, while the rest of the culinary world was painting everything slate grey, smashing avocados and taking itself a wee bit too seriously, this place stayed in a time warp of a simpler age. One without VAR or endless online tests to prove you’re not a robot. The Tuck Inn in Newington “It’s only just started taking card payments, and I think it might be a while before it could be described as vegan-friendly. But it does hearty, value grub with a smile on its face. “It is everything you could want from a greasy spoon, just without the grease.” SCORES Food: It’s not going to score well in terms of WeightWatchers points, but it was quick, warm and tasty ***1/2 Drink: A decent coffee and the drinks came out at lightning pace. An extra star for the excellent mugs – big up Dalwood designer flooring! **** Decor: It might look like a shack from the road, but it’s got definite personality inside, with bold crimson walls, nostalgic trucking signs and a retro feel. Spotlessly clean too *** Staff: Loud! You have to be when the serving system involves yelling out order numbers. But the waiters and waitresses were friendly and fast ***** Price: Even a Spoons breakfast, the benchmark of a cheap and cheerful fry-up, is now verging on £9, so the Tuck Inn compares very favourably. For us it came in at around a tenner a head. Plus you get extra lashings of character ***** June: Portenio Argentine Grill in Folkestone In June, Matt Leclere took himself down to Folkestone Harbour Arm to try the steak on offer at a new seaside restaurant, Portenio Argentine Grill . But was the steak all it was cracked up to be? Here’s what Matt had to say: We visited Portenio on Folkestone Harbour Arm “As someone who normally spends too long deciding what to order, the choice for the main was simple. “When it comes to steak, we know what we like don’t we – so I order the sirloin. “As a medium-rare man normally, the menu guides me that there’s three different ways the Argentines do steak – bloody, juicy and cooked. “So I’m going for juicy for that perfect balance I crave from the charring of the grill and flavour from the combination of rareness and juice of the meat while also not still ‘mooing’. “And when it arrives, the anticipation is heightened even further at first sight. “A thick and perfectly-scored well-rendered piece of meat, which certainly looks as juicy as I asked for it to be prepared. The first bite is every bit as heavenly as I’m promised. “I don’t think I've tasted any steak which cuts as smoothly, and seemingly melts in the mouth with minimal effort. Argentine restaurant Portenio at Folkestone Harbour Arm “They say the Las Pampas lowlands where the cattle graze is so fertile that the animals don’t develop as much muscle making the meat more tender. “I can certainly vouch for that – it is the easiest to eat and most tender steak I’ve probably ever eaten and can’t think of any beef I’ve had that has been better. “The food is cooked simply and treated with the respect it deserves with no-fuss perfect cooking celebrating the ingredients. It tastes all the better for it – I am in meat-eater’s heaven and this steak is on a different level.” SCORES Food: Genuinely the best steak I’ve ever had and delicious sides, fries, starter and pud. Simply cooked to perfection ***** Drink: At £23 a bottle the fruity Aromar white from Spain was crisp and cold, perfect for a sunny evening. Sorry I can’t tell you about the Malbec! **** Decor: Modern, unpretentious, industrial chic with the shrine to Argentine footballing gods Messi and Maradona a nice touch **** Staff: Friendly, attentive and fast service and proud to be serving good food **** Price: This would be my only (minor) criticism. It is expensive and therefore not somewhere you’d go every week but equally, you are paying for quality and for an occasion and indulgence it is worth the price *** July: Masala Bay in Herne Bay In July, we dispatched Max Chesson to Masala Bay in Herne Bay High Street , which had been named the winner of the ‘takeaway of the year’ category at The Nation’s Curry Awards. Did it live up to its award-winning billing? Here’s what Max thought: Masala Bay in Herne Bay “The food is piping hot when I leave and, rather miraculously, is still slightly too warm to immediately tuck in to by the time I get home 20-or-so minutes later. “Our two curries, a chicken tikka masala and a chicken patia, amount to £20 and rather curiously come in a pre-packaged container. “Many will flinch at my selections – after all, Fat Les didn’t sing about Vindaloo for nothing – but I decide a milder option offers the best chance of enjoying the meal as a whole. “Everything else, the vegetable samosas, the rice (including a bonus pilau), the garlic naan, come in the bog-standard takeaway boxes. “Regardless, every dish is presented as a hearty portion and there’s more than enough to go around. The extra serving of pilau rice they gave us proved to be overkill. Garlic naan, chicken patia, egg fried rice, Bombay potatoes from Masala Bay “The tikka masala is creamy, well-seasoned and aromatic. My teeth tear through the chicken with little resistance, the sign of a job well done. “The egg fried rice, whilst not totally in the spirit of the true Indian takeaway, is genuinely satisfying. It’s cooked to perfection and gets the ratio of rice and other ingredients just right. “The garlic naan delicately teases its savoury and sweet undertones, each bite offering a variety of flavour to complement the sauce. “The pastry of the samosas is crusty and clean, with the vegetables inside slightly tangy and boasting their deliciousness. “Each flavour combines to create a well-balanced, versatile dance for the taste buds, embracing the spices and tastes generations before me have experienced. Awards keep coming for Masala Bay “I try a bit of the patia too and I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s sweet with a nice kick of spice.” SCORES Food: To call it the best Indian takeaway in the country feels a stretch but it was a good, warm, tasty meal **** Drink: There was a decent selection at a price you’d expect to see from a takeaway – but I’d be inclined to buy my own at one of the many corner shops nearby *** Decor: Considering it’s a takeaway, all I want is for it to be clean and look neat. They ticked both of these off, and a bonus point for the sheer number of awards they’ve got on show **** Staff: Our limited interaction was perfectly pleasant and they got the order right which is more than can be said for some of the takeaways in Kent **** Price: Two curries, two lots of rice, three samosas, a side of Bombay potatoes and a garlic naan for £35.60 is not to be sniffed at. Not far off a meal for family-of-four territory here ***** August: Kazoku in Folkestone In August, I headed to the Leas in Folkestone, where Kazoku offers a menu of bottomless sushi . Here’s what I made of it: Rhys Griffiths tries a bottomless sushi menu at Kazoku “My previous experiences with sushi – a few visits to Yo Sushi and a couple of boozy lunches in Soho – have always left me slightly underwhelmed. I am probably to blame, as I suspect my choices in the past have been rather blander combinations where much of the flavour has come from the addition of soy sauce or a dash of wasabi. But the selection here was far more interesting, with a far wider range of flavour and texture than I had previously experienced. “Highlights included the tuna tataki, quickly seared on the outside but melt-in-the-mouth raw on the inside, and the crispy chilli hot roll, with its salmon, leek and mango filling enveloped by the textural contrast of spring roll pastry and a garnish of fried onions. “I’m no aficionado, as I have hopefully made clear, but the preparation of every bite appeared expertly executed – each piece holding together thanks to rice sticky enough to bind but still holding its shape perfectly. The only thing that needed drastic improvement was my chopstick technique. Dear reader, I am unashamed to admit that at times I was reduced to plucking bites from the platter by hand. Bottomless sushi menu at Kazoku “Not that anyone seemed to mind. The atmosphere in the room, which has had a very Instagram-friendly makeover since Kazoku moved into the home of the former Bikash tandoori restaurant, was buzzy and all around us people were tucking into incredible-looking dishes. “After a moment to catch our breath, and summon up another couple of cold beers, we were ready to place a second order. After the success of the tataki first time around, we had to try the salmon version, which was just as perfect. The ebiten hot roll – a tempura prawn wrapped up in rice with avocado – was also a favourite. “However, so much for trying everything on the menu. We were well and truly sated after two servings. Every concoction we had sampled had been delicious, but there is only so much rice one can eat in one sitting. Bottomless sushi at Kazoku on The Leas in Folkestone “But my eyes had been well and truly opened. I had feared our meal could be rather one-note but instead we had enjoyed a fine variety of taste and texture which kept me interested right up to the last bite. Sushi is back on the menu, and the value to be found in Kazoku’s ‘bottomless’ offering means it won’t be long until we are back for more.” SCORES Food: Everything, to my admittedly untrained eye, was perfect. I entered a sushi sceptic but left a convert ***** Drink: A pretty standard restaurant selection – we went for the beer but could have opted for sake for an even more authentic experience *** Decor: Kazoku has taken on a large room, but it’s been done out nicely and feels more intimate than I had expected **** Staff: Everyone was extremely welcoming, and the service was snappy **** Price: Unlimited sushi for £25 at dinner and £20 at lunch? Hard to go wrong there ***** September: Bierkeller in Maidstone In September, we sent Megan Carr to the County Town to get into the Oktoberfest spirit at Bierkeller . Here’s what she made of the experience: Megan Carr gets in the Oktoberfest spirit at Bierkeller “There were groups of friends of all ages and genders celebrating all sorts of occasions including birthdays, hen nights, and even the birth of a baby. “The waitress brought our drinks to the table very quickly and our food was brought out to us after 20 minutes. “Now I have to say, looks-wise, this was not the most jaw-dropping appetising-looking meal I had ever been served, but then again, what are you meant to do with a sausage and a bun? I had never had a Bratwurst before but I thoroughly enjoyed it. “I topped mine with the sauerkraut – fermented raw cabbage – that was served alongside my hot dog, and dug in. I can’t complain at all. The sausage was nicely cooked and the simplicity of the meal kind of spoke for itself. “The chips were also really tasty, cooked to perfection in my opinion, and lovely with the curry sauce condiment on the table. Bierkeller in Maidstone “Washing down my meal with my beer I felt fairly satisfied, I was content but I was craving something for afters. “That’s when the sweet pretzel caught my eye. For £4.50 I ordered myself a giant deep-fried pretzel dusted with sugar and cinnamon. “While waiting for my dessert, I ordered another stein and noticed the music getting increasingly louder as we neared 9pm. My pretzel was brought out very quickly and smelt delicious. “Again, it was a very simple food and I really don’t have anything bad to say about it.” The sweet pretzel from Bierkeller SCORES Food: The Bratwurst might not have been the sexiest-looking meal I’ve ever had but it was tasty *** Drink: A stein of beer or cocktail, that’s two pints, included in a meal and club entry for £17. That seems like a decent deal to me **** Decor: Decked out with German-themed trinkets and stereotypical Oktoberfest gimmicks the atmosphere was great ***** Staff: All the staff who helped us to our table, made our order, and even performed for us were great ***** Price: £17 for a meal, entry, and two pints of drink seems pretty reasonable to me. With an extra drink and dessert, my whole Bierkeller experience cost £25.90 which I didn’t think was bad at all ***** October: Bistro Valerie at The Old Coach and Horses in Harbledown In October, Max Chesson headed to a pub on the outskirts of Canterbury to sample its new French menu. Despite being a bit of a novice when it comes to the cuisine of our Gallic cousins, he left hailing one of the best meals of his life: The filet mignon at Bistro Valerie near Canterbury “The meal is clearly off to a winner when people stop and stare when the waiter brings it out of the kitchen, with a gent sat next to me ogling the food. “By this point, as you can tell, the bistro has welcomed a few more people now and it’s satisfying to see our fellow diners also lapping up the meals that come their way. “My knife glides through the meat as if it were butter and each bite is flavoursome, perfectly seasoned and tender. “As for the other main course, the mussels slosh around an interesting little pot and I find the technique of using the shells to eat them rather fascinating. Bistro Valerie at The Old Coach and Horses in Harbledown “But now it’s time for the taste test. I clench my eyes, ready to recoil in horror the second the moule hits my mouth – with hands firmly on a glass of Pepsi to wash away the taste. “Instead, in what has become a recurring theme of this piece and my dining experience, I find myself surprised and even savouring something I would usually never have given the time of day. “A creamy white wine sauce complements the slightly salty, tender mussel meat and nothing about the assortment lets it down – the balance is brilliant. “Though I have nothing to compare it to, my partner reassures me this is top-quality food – high praise all around. “Throughout the night the possibility of dessert has almost taunted us, but the truth is I’m adequately satiated and anything else would tip me over the edge. “But despite only managing two courses, I have to say how impressed I am by French cuisine and how the chefs here have brought that slice of Paris to Harbledown. The chicken liver parfait at Bistro Valerie near Canterbury “I’ve gone from being afraid of anything that might rock the boat to wishing I’d been braver – a lesson learned for next time. “I’m by no means a regular fine diner but I’ve been lucky enough to eat out all across the country. Yet right here on my doorstep is the best restaurant I’ve ever been to in the UK.” SCORES Food: It was a truly tasty experience and there is a good range on the menu without being overwhelming ***** Drink: Pepsi’s and a Strawberry Daiquiri aren’t really as French as the food but they do the job and there’s a fantastic range for those more sophisticated than me ***** Decor: I’ve only been to Paris a few times, all of them as a child, so I can’t compare it to the real thing, but I found it to be charming and clean, which is all you can really ask for ***** Staff: The two teenage waiting staff were keen to impress but carried a fine air of composure about them. They’re a credit to the owner ***** Price: With the meal costing £81, it’ll be a luxury for many families and some will be priced out altogether. However, for the quality of food, the price tag is justified **** November: Poco Loco in Chatham In November, we sent Sam Lawrie to Chatham to sample the Mexican tapas on offer at Poco Loco . Despite the ‘dive bar’ being less than heaving, the meal went down a treat: Sam Lawrie tried the tapas at Poco Loco in Chatham “Almost every inch of the table was covered in tapas and we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the portions. “We dipped, nibbled and tasted a little of everything and, I have to say, every single thing was delicious. “The halloumi fries were crispy with a sticky chilli dip and the potatoes were well-seasoned, fluffy on the inside, smothered with a rich tomato sauce and both were incredibly moreish. “The croquettes were also very tasty. The cheese ones were well-balanced and the goats' cheese flavour wasn’t too overpowering, while the mushroom ones had a rich, earthy pureed filling that I loved. “For most of our meal we had the entire restaurant to ourselves and it really felt like we’d stumbled upon a hidden gem. We tried the tapas at Poco Loco in Chatham “The bar is in the Intra part of Chatham, which might be considered one of Medway’s more run-down areas, so perhaps that's why people don’t stumble across this place for dinner. “It also feels like the restaurant is easily overlooked in favour of the bar’s live music and, while I’ve had some great nights here watching bands and drag artists, I think Poco Loco’s restaurant deserves just as much credit. “I’ll definitely be back, and I hope that next time I get to try the vegan no-meat balls and creamy mushrooms too.” Poco Loco in Chatham SCORES Food: We didn’t get to try everything we wanted, but the dishes we did have were all delicious, with the different flavoured croquettes being a real highlight **** Drink: My mocktail was fruity and zesty and I’d be tempted to have one of the fun cocktails on offer if I wasn’t driving *** Decor: It’s a proper alternative bar with Mexican sugar skulls and quirky artwork all over the place. I get the feeling it’s Halloween all year round here, and I’ve got no problem with that. **** Staff: Our servers were very friendly and smiley, although the service wasn’t super speedy but we weren’t in a rush so it didn’t really matter *** Price: The tapas was generally priced around a fiver a dish but, with the Monday night deal, it came to £12 for three dishes, plus a shared bowl of bread and olives, and with drinks our whole meal came to under £35 - not bad at all **** December: The Yarrow in Broadstairs We round off the year with Chris Britcher’s visit to The Yarrow in Broadstairs , where he sampled a meal cooked and served by students at the local college. Here’s what he made of the experience: Chris Britcher at The Yarrow “First off, let it be clear that the youngsters serving do a supremely good job. If I was expecting stereotypical surly teenage behaviour, nothing could be further from the truth here. They are friendly and attentive and their parents should be proud of them. And when my starter is served to the ‘wrong’ side of me (I had no idea there was a right or wrong to this, if I’m completely honest), a member of (adult) staff is quick to correct it. “Clearly, there is a desire here to do everything ‘just right’. You have to admire the attention to detail. “There’s a (very modest) slice of bread (gone in a couple of bites) to keep us busy while we await our starter and water is brought to our table. “The starter’s arrival does, if I’m honest, initially make me fear the worst as to how this meal will turn out. “More a ‘smear’ of salmon pate with a triangle of crisp bread, I am temporarily underwhelmed. But its sparsity is offset by being beautifully presented and its light, fragrant taste makes me lose any concerns I was starting to harbour. This is, after all, striving for a fine dining experience. It also delivers what I suspect most starters actually should – namely a light, delicious dish which whets your appetite for more, rather than filling you up too much before the main course. Sea bream - you're not going to emerge bloated from this meal, but you will have been well fed “After a short pause, the sea bream arrives. Again, it is beautifully presented. The light tangy sauce dances across the tastebuds, the fish's flavour is complemented and I’m warming to this place with every mouthful. “Someone has clearly given this menu some thought and it achieves a fine balancing act throughout – it satisfies perfectly while always leaving room for the next course. “Which brings me on to the dessert. Profiteroles for me – warm Bakewell tart with anglaise sauce for my guest. “The profiteroles have a raspberry drizzle on the plate which lends a tarte edge and elevates the dish. The Bakewell tart, I’m assured, is delicious. “It’s a pleasing end to what is a well-crafted meal. I emerge into the grey Broadstairs air full but not to bursting point. A good thing as I’ve work to do in the afternoon. Profiteroles - hard to resist and that drizzle of raspberry was well judged “So well done to the young students toiling in the kitchens and those front-of-house staff who ensured no delays and were always pleasant and polite. And for £15? You’ll be hard-pushed to get a better deal anywhere in the country.” SCORES Food: Light, subtle flavours, beautifully presented and well-judged **** Drink: There’s a range of alcoholic options – beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks and coffees – so you’ll be spoilt for choice. All at regular restaurant prices. Boringly, I stuck with water **** Decor: The room was warm and beautiful – but did look a bit sparse given its scale and the capped number of diners they allow – but that’s hardly a complaint **** Staff: Everyone we encountered were friendly, efficient and extremely competent. Bright futures lie ahead ***** Price: What can you say to £15 for three courses? Possibly the best value fine-dining meal in Kent, if not the country *****
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