Kent's award-winning restaurants
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Kent has one heck of a foodie reputation. Hops, apples, strawberries, wine, beer…the list of our produce goes on, so it’s really no surprise that we’re also home to some pretty sensational (and award-winning) restaurants.
With a list containing three Michelin stars, a pub straight from the top 20 of the National Restaurant Awards and the 2019 winner of the Top 50 Gastropubs Award, we thought it was about time we started shouting about some of Kent’s best restaurants.
If you’re hungry, be warned, this list WILL make your mouth water and your lunchtime tuna sandwich seem completely inadequate, but if your stomach is rumbling just reading it, think how we felt writing it!
Yep, chef-patron Stephen Harris has graced the stage of many a restaurant awards, topping the Top 50 Gastropub’s list in 2019 and winning first place in the National Restaurant Awards in 2015 and 2016. One bite of the slip sole in seaweed butter or the Monkshill farm lamb with mint sauce and you’ll soon see why the restaurant critics love this “grotty boozer by the sea” (Harris’ words, not ours) in bountiful Seasalter. But what we love most about this little beach-side pub is that Harris really makes the most of Kent’s terroir, offering produce almost exclusively sourced from the land surrounding the pub. Oh, and did we mention it holds a Michelin Star?
Another Michelin-Starred Restaurant, the West House is totally worth planning your trip to Kent around (and with rooms upstairs, you can). Family run in a 16th century Weaver’s Cottage in a West Kent village, the location alone is perfect, but the food is sensational! Once again, chef-patron Graham Garrett is completely inspired by Kent’s local ingredients from coast to countryside, so you can expect plenty of seasonal delights. So seasonal in fact, that the menu is constantly changing, but trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
With its beautiful beaches and seaside charm, Broadstairs is a much-loved destination for beach goers, but lately this simple ten-seater restaurant has been pulling in its very own foodie pilgrims. Michelin-Starred Stark (we’re getting close to our own constellation now) was set up by Ben and Sophie Crittenden just a few years ago and has fast become a national favourite. If you manage to get a table in this intimate little restaurant (did we mention there are just four tables?) you can expect the very best from their constantly changing six course set menu, which still stands by the slogan of ‘good food, laid bare'.
You’ll have learnt by now that some of our best restaurants are found in the most unexpected places, and this gem is no exception, being located in the smallest town in Britain. Named England’s AA Restaurant of the Year, the Fordwich Arms is worth adding to your ever-growing list. In winter you can cosy up with your meal and a glass of Simpsons or Hush Heath wine near one of the three open fireplaces, while in summer, the four and seven course tasting menus can be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the River Stour. Like the wine list, the A la Carte and tasting menus boast some of Kent’s very best ingredients for the perfect showcase of our local farms and producers.
Holding two AA Rosettes and the 2019 title of Great British Pub of the Year, it’s easy to see why The Dog at Wingham made our list. Local ingredients go into everything they do, with dishes ranging from pan-fried cod, to venison and celeriac suet pudding. Plus, with a three course Sunday lunch menu made up of sirloin of beef and belly of pork, you may be tempted to stay the night in their four poster bed suite – the perfect excuse to take a look at that dessert list!
Relaxed dining and fine local food is what eating out in Kent is all about, and that’s exactly what Rob and Donna Taylor of the Compasses Inn have embraced. Pull up a chair in this country pub and you can expect a menu containing meat from a quarter of a mile down the road and veg, herbs and fruits from the pub’s garden – is it any wonder they’ve won Food Pub of the Year and a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award?
Another Isle of Thanet favourite, Arya was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, and is one to watch on our list. Small plates and tempting tapas make up a menu of local and foraged (yep, that local) ingredients, so it’s the prefect spot for a tasty sharing meal with friends and family. Battered mackerel and seaweed maynonnaise, grilled prawns, Iberico pork…just one look at their Instagram feed and we're dreaming.
If you’ve visited Folkestone lately you’ll definitely have seen Rocksalt, with its panoramic views across the Harbour. It’s safe to say this two AA rosette restaurant has long been a favourite in Kent, offering a delectable range of local produce, including the freshest fish and seafood, served up on the sun-drenched terrace overlooking the Kent coast. But if you find yourself further inland, be sure to visit former Canterbury pilgrims’ resting spot, the Wife of Bath (we’ll let you figure out the name). The Rocksalt team’s double AA Rosette Award winner in Wye blends Kent ingredients into Spanish-inspired meals and tapas for the ultimate taste of Galicia and Catalonia in rural village.
Before you say anything, we know we've only scratched the surface when it comes to Kent's best restaurants, so keep an eye out as we continue to add more favourites and, fingers crossed, more Michelin Stars!