Experience Food and Drink
28th March 2021
From the dappled, picturesque vineyards and orchards, to the rich, rural farmland to the wild and plentiful coast, Kent’s landscape delivers a bountiful crop of home grown products, dishes and experiences, making it one of the most popular foodie destinations in the UK. Visitors can expect a gastronomic journey across the county of Michelin fine dining, incredible local produce, award-winning wines and uniquely fascinating (and delicious!) food and drink experiences.
Step off the train at Ashford International, 40 minutes from Central London and with links to Europe, for the perfect start to your Kentish foodie adventure. Head straight to the nearby Curious Brewery - the bold and modern brewery in the heart of Ashford - for tours, dining and tastings of their distinctively refreshing beers and ciders. Nearby Macknade Fine Foods at Elwick Place is an innovative food and drink hub not only offering a local produce shop, deli and all day dining experiences in their beautiful restaurant space - but also a bespoke concierge service delivering curated exclusive experiences for their guests. With tastings and tours, the area's range of incredible vineyards, from Chapel Down and Gusbourne to Biddenden offer some must-do experiences, while the restaurants and bars of Elwick Place and Coachworks offer fantastic relaxed dining.
If you’re in the mood for Kent wine and food
An experience of bliss, not to be missed.
Try cheese making or maybe wine tasting
There’s baking classes, a distillery masters
Fruit picking and ice cream licking
And tasting menus in incredible venues
Read on to tantalise your taste buds and inspire your next Kentish food experience…
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Head to Tenterden for a truly authentic experience at Nightingale Cider Co. where three generations of Kentish fruit farmers have hand-picked apples from the family-planted orchards to create an award winning range of delicious ciders. Sam and Tim Nightingale are ready to welcome you, share their craft and introduce you to their ciders – the golden bounty of the garden of England! From Wassail events to tour and tasting packages, there’s a range of orchard experiences on offer. Whilst you’re in Tenterden it would be rude not to head to the Old Dairy Brewery to discover its popular range of traditional English beers - as well as an exciting range of modern craft and speciality brews too. The brewery often teams up with nearby Kent and East Sussex Railway for fun ‘Rails and Ales’ tours so guests can tour the brewery, and then enjoy a local ploughmans or cream tea whilst relaxing on a steam train journey to Bodium. Old Dairy will also be announcing a brand new line-up of day trip and weekend tour packages very soon. Cheers to that!
Tasting tours on the move
We’re gaining a bit of a reputation for our wonderful wines and vibrant vineyards here in Kent, so no foodie visit would be complete without a tour or two. With Vine and Country Tours, indulge in private tours through the Wine Garden of England, tasting award-winning wines, meeting winemakers, enjoying chef’s table experiences, wine pairings and gastronomic delights. Similarly intent on providing you the ultimate, luxury experience, why not allow the team at Wine Tours of Kent to transport you through the beautiful Kent countryside for an enjoyable day exploring award winning Vineyards and Breweries? These tours are designed to allow you to discover, taste and enjoy - whilst letting them take care of the driving!
With a Great British Summer well and truly on its way, we’re looking forward to spending as much time as possible outside, soaking up the sunshine. And, where better to enjoy the arrival of warmer weather (if we say it enough it will arrive, right?) than amongst the vines at glorious Gusbourne Vineyard, who from the 12th April, will be reopening The Nest. Whether you wish to toast to the year with a two-hour tour and tasting, or elevate your afternoon with a picnic (including a selection of paired Kent and Sussex produce, accompanied by a bottle of Gusbourne Brut Reserve), a day trip to Gusbourne is something worth popping in the calendar.
Gin tours & tastings
No dawdling in the playground here! Grown-ups will be running into the Gin School at Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham for a chance to learn their distillery craft. Guests can enjoy tours, tastings and even flavour their own profile of gin in the new dedicated tasting room before heading to the visitor centre’s cocktail bar for a well-deserved G&T. “More gin” you cry? Set in the heart of Maidstone, with roots reaching back to the 1800s, Maidstone Distillery has a fascinating story to tell. Join a guided tour and delve into centuries of history, the distilling process and a chance to see the still up close, all before taking on a tutored tasting and learning the stories behind their incredible drinks. True gin connoisseurs can even get stuck in with a gin-making experience for plenty of spirited fun. Finally, if dinner and gin sounds like your perfect combination (yes, please!) you'll want to check out Larkfield Priory Hotel who are now offering genuius 'gin and dine' experiences in collaboration with nearby Anno Distillery.
Kent isn’t all about the drink tours (though we are very good at those!) – did you know we’re also a dab hand at baking? Ble by Couture Cakes in Ashford are offering premium cake-making workshops at their swanky new cake shop in Elwick place where visitors will learn to make quality cakes using only the finest Kentish ingredients. The brand new concept store is a gorgeous open plan shop and kitchen which is also available for private dining experiences. If you fancy yourself as the next winner of GBBO (or like us, you just really like cake) then this experience is right up your street. If you want to indulge that sweet tooth even further, Temper Temper in Southborough is for you. A family-run business specialising in all things chocolate, they offer workshops and events teaching guests to make all sorts of goodies such as figures, lollipops, Florentines, bowls and truffles. Learn, make, taste and taste some more…sounds good to us!
Taking the concept of a tasting tour on the move one step further still, the Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells has teamed up with Kent’s premium gin makers Anno Distillery to give visitors a gin tasting experience to remember (or not remember, maybe!) Board the steam train into the heritage 1960s carriages from Tunbridge Wells Station before setting off through the High Weald, sipping a range of refreshing gins and trying tasty canapés as you soak up the scenery.
Want to brush up on your culinary skills? Learn a new recipe repertoire to impress at your next dinner party? Or enjoy fabulous local produce from Deal’s incredible natural surroundings? Chequers Kitchen Cookery School is a beautiful venue situated near the sea, offering a wide range of cookery courses for all ages. From time to time there’s also a chance to dine at Chequers Kitchen at one of their popular Demo & Dine events where guests can enjoy a delicious meal prepared from the finest local ingredients whilst watching entertaining and informative cookery demonstrations. Prefer open campfire to kitchen cooker? Get the whole family involved in foodie discoveries with a Wild Classroom workshop at Belmont House and Gardens. Peruse and pick fresh ingredients from the kitchen garden, before heading to the outdoor cooking area where you’ll get stuck into preparing your very own feast over the flames.
Meopham Valley Vineyard
The prettily picturesque Meopham Valley Vineyard in the North Downs is a family run winery in the lovely village of Meopham. It’s actually the closest of the Kent vineyards to London so is perfectly positioned for weekend getaways. Set in the rolling countryside and surrounded by a variety of excellent restaurants, pubs and rooms, it’s the perfect spot for city dwellers to escape for a lazy countryside weekend complete with wonderful walks and lots of delicious fine wine of course! With vineyard tours and expert tastings running daily (and exciting future plans for a visitor centre, tasting rooms and on-site glamping) it’s a Kentish vineyard experience that’s not to be missed.
There’s nothing like a meal you’ve cooked yourself, so you can trust us when we say there’s really nothing like a meal you’ve foraged and cooked yourself. Enter Wild Feast - the foraging, wild food and wild cocktail experts. Learn the ins and outs of safe foraging, identify plants and use them to cook and flavour food and drink on a Wild Feast course. In the Isle of Thanet, Doctor Forager (Hannah Scott PhD), offers a range of distinctly different food experiences. Through foraging walks, education and cookery courses, Hannah hopes to bring her guests back to nature as they enjoy the holistic benefits of the great outdoors, the fruits of the land and the time and space to escape the daily grind. And (yes, there’s more!) you won’t want to miss The Wild Kitchen in Deal who specialise in cooking with British plants and seaweed that grow wild in Kent, and offer a truly gourmet gastronomic experience linking landscape to table.
If you’d prefer to leave the food prep to the pros, there are plenty of places throughout the county ready and raring to share the fruits of the Garden of England with you. Escape to the hidden gem of The Mount Vineyard, located in a breath-taking Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where you can enjoy an informal yet informative wine tasting by the team, a sharing platter championing British produce from The Courtyard Bar and Restaurant, or grab a hot drink and slice of homemade cake from the The Coffee Box. Wherever your Kentish experience leads you, you’re sure to find yourself close to a Shepherd Neame pub - the perfect pit-stop for any adventure in the Garden of England. From rural boltholes to modern venues offering panoramic views of our coastline, you’re sure to find a Shepherd Neame pub to suit all tastes. Or stop by Vinoteq in Dover for a taste of relaxed continental living, with live music, food and wine fresh from the South East, and even the promise of a walking tour and wine tasting with Dover Tales to come!
A gastronomic tour of Kent can be tiring work, so for those whose energy levels may be needing a little pick-me-up, this next one’s for you. At Coldblow Coffee Company the team hand roast small batches of (delicious) specialty coffee. Putting sustainability at the forefront of how they operate; Coldblow only works with the very best speciality importers who work directly with farmers in an ethical, responsible and transparent way. Shop Coldblow’s range of coffee online, grab a coffee from Nutmeg Deli & Coffee Shop in the charming town of Tenterden, and keep your eyes peeled for a range of coffee experiences from the team in the coming months.
Kent certainly packs a punch when it comes to the mouth-watering range of local produce we have to offer. Along our coastline, the wonderful seaside town of Whitstable has been renowned for its oysters for thousands of years, and if you’re yet to sample this seafood delicacy for yourself there’s really no better place than the Whitstable Oyster Company. If you’d prefer to swap seafood for something sweet, why not visit the home of Kent’s favourite ice cream? Solley’s has been producing delicious real dairy ice cream on the family farm for over three decades, using local Channel Island milk & cream. And, if you really can’t decide what delight to sample first, there’s no better place to head than Macknade Fine Foods’ Flagship Food Hall in Faversham, where you’ll find yourself lost in a food-lovers paradise! Or why not experience a taste of Japan with Hankverk & Found's sensational menu of sushi, kaiseki and Bento? Made with the freshest ingredients, you can guarantee a delicious seasonal meal.
Grow your own
Fascinated by the field to fork process? Urban Farm-It is an organisation aiming to instigate and facilitate a positive shift in culture around food production and consumption. This Kent-based company loves all sorts of alternative agriculture and growing food, but their most popular product has always been their oyster mushroom grow kits. Yes, you heard that correct, mushroom growing. With these kits you can grow your own mushrooms right in your very own home, and trust us, there’s no prouder feeling than being able to say “I grew that” to friends and family, just as you’re about to tuck into something tasty.
Beer and cider
An award-winning brewery and distillery in the heart of historic Canterbury, it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Join the tour of the Foundry Brew Pub and discover exactly what goes into crafting their 16+ beers and ciders, four gins, vodka, rum, and apple pie moonshine – yep, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to sample on this tour! Continue your beer expedition along to the coastline where you’ll find Docker Brewery & Bakehouse located in a shipping container along the fabulous Folkestone Harbour Arm. Sample Docker’s sourdough loaves and small batch beers whilst drinking in the sights of the Kent coast. Look out for some craft beer tasting experiences to come from this brilliant brewery later this year.
Wine Garden of England
Yes, Kent may be known for its hops and oysters, but with the Downs chalky soil and Southern England climate, our county is prime wine making territory. The Wine Garden of England has linked seven of the county's top vineyards together to create a partnership that celebrates world class and award winning producers. Whether you visit the oldest in the group Biddenden Vineyards, sip in the sun at Hush Heath Estate, slide down the world's only winery helter-skelter at Simpsons Wine Estate or discover joy at Squerryes, you’re sure to get a warm welcome and set the taste buds off with a tour and tasting experience.
Street food treats
At the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate Aleksandar Taralezhkov is offering up a slice of cuisine from around the world, from the Balkans to the Middle East, with Dolma Bar. Offering up dolmas and sarmas (stuffed and wrapped), these parcels of deliciousness have been crafted from recipes from around the world. Take a look at the takeaway menu and start planning your Friday night treats!
Another glass? Yes, yes we know, how could our little corner of the UK possibly home any more vineyards? There are - in fact - over 50 vineyards here in Kent, and we simply didn’t think it would be fair to leave you ill-informed when it comes to choosing which wonderful wine experience you’ll enjoy next! A stone’s throw from historic Sandwich, Barnsole Vineyard is perfectly placed for budding wine connoisseurs spending a day in the east of the county. Head west, and you’ll find award-winning English Sparkling Wine produced by the team at Mereworth Wines, located near Maidstone. You won’t find many locations more picture-perfect than Westwell Wine Estates where you can enjoy a sampling on the chalk slopes, at the foot of the North Downs. And, if you’re looking for an exclusive wine experience, why not book a private tour of Brissenden Vineyards for the ultimate indulgence?
Before you embark on your foodie adventures, please do check our partner websites as many attractions and locations now request that you pre-book. There may also be new procedures in place in order to keep their staff and visitors safe. Take a look at our guidance on how to best Respect, Protect and Enjoy our wonderful Kent attractions and landscapes.
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