Kent is full of rolling green hills and sandy seafronts, but what has it got to offer in the way of food? Rather a lot actually. Plan a visit and prepare to tuck into locally-sourced veggies, sustainable seafood and whole lot of delicious gastropub grub.
The Goods Shed
Station Road West, Canterbury, CT2 8AN
Opened back in 2002, The Goods Shed was originally a fresh produce market with an adjoining restaurant which served hearty dishes made from the day’s offerings. Today, the market has grown into a sprawling food hall selling everything from baked goods and local cheeses to cured charcuterie and biodynamic wines. The restaurant is no longer just an add-on either. An attraction in itself, the bustling bistro serves seasonally-led fare and diners can expect to find dishes such as halibut gravadlax and pickled cucumber; guinea fowl, lentils and black pudding; and Vanilla goat’s curd cheesecake with Cointreau oranges.
If you fancy something a little less sophisticated but equally delicious, the build-your-own breakfast (served Tuesday to Sunday until 10.30am) will more than set you up for the day.
Macknade Manor, Canterbury Road, Faversham, ME13 8XE
Located in a handsome Georgian manor house with sweeping green lawns and shady trees for a view, Read’s restaurant is where you'll find the wonderful cooking of Michelin-starred chef David Pitchford. One of Kent's most popular eating establishments, the food here is either grown in the restaurant's own walled garden or sourced from nearby Whitstable and Hythe. The menu reads like a culinary bucket list and comprises dishes such as Montgomery Cheddar soufflé with glazed smoked haddock; wild mallard with blackberries and creamed potato; and apple Mousse with toffee apple jelly.
If you can't decide what to order, Read's does a wonderful tasting menu for £65 per person, which can also be paired with vino from the vast but well-chosen wine list.<o:p></o:p>
Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, CT5 4BP
Located just a stone's throw from the sea, The Sportsman has been serving Michelin-class food since 2008, when the gastropub was first awarded its coveted star. Despite its successes, the surroundings here are relaxed and homely, and it's only when it comes to the food that The Sportsman's a show off. Seafood here is fresh from the nearby Thames Estuary, meat is sourced from the surrounding farmlands, and fruit and veggies are hand-grown and hand-picked from the restaurant's very own kitchen garden.
For utter indulgence, book a tasting menu (which can be paired with wine too), or pick from the a la carte menu to enjoy stunning plates of slip sole grilled in seaweed butter, and braised brill with mussel and bacon tartare.
The Milk House, Cranbrook<o:p></o:p>
The Street, Sissinghurst, Cranbrook, TN17 2JG
The chocolate-box village of Sissinghurst is where you'll find The Milk House. Once a 16th century hall, this cosy pub offers both locals and visitors a sprawling selection of local beers and wine (there are around 50 vineyards in Kent) as well as fantastic food too. Ingredients at The Milk House are sourced within 20 miles of the building whenever possible, with all meat being free range and all fish sustainable.
For a causal feed, set up in the bar and order one of many British favourites including a homemade burger with smoked bacon or a fish pie with horseradish mash. For more adventurous fare, visit the Milk House's dining room. Plates on offer for both lunch and dinner include pan-fried cod with green dal; coffee-dusted beef fillet, and black treacle cocoa brownie.<o:p></o:p>
The Black Pig
18 Grove Hill Rd, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1RZ
This trendy-looking pub in Tunbridge Wells is owned by Julian Leefe-Griffiths, the man behind the Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning George & Dragon in the nearby village of Speldhurst. With that in mind, it's no surprise that The Black Pig attracts big crowds, all hungry for its fresh, tasty, locally produced food.
An extensive list of wine from across the globe will perfectly accompany mouth watering dishes such as salted crispy squid, sautéed samphire with confit chorizo; garlic chicken supreme with butternut squash fondant, and white chocolate rice pudding with orange blossom.
If you’re visiting Kent and are looking for somewhere to stay, our Dartford Brands Hatch Hotel has a wonderful on-site spa. For racing fans, the hotel and spa is situated very near Brands Hatch racing track too.<o:p></o:p>