Britain’s longest-standing and bestselling guide to dining out is back after a two-year hiatus – and they’ve given Panzer’s their top restaurant recommendations for Kent.
Founded in 1951, The Good Food Guide has returned in a new digital format under new ownership from the publishers of industry-bible CODE Hospitality. We have maintained The Guide’s heritage and ethos – conducting inspections anonymously and paying for all of our meals – but the new Guide is now available as an app when you become a member of The Good Food Guide Club (see the bottom of this post for a discount for Panzer’s customers.)
As we celebrate 70 years of the Brogdale Collection, one of our favourite suppliers of cherries, apples and pears, the Good Food Guide’s editor Elizabeth Carter recommends give restaurants within less than half an hour drive of Brogdale to eat after visiting the orchard in the garden of England.
A crop of restaurants to visit in Kent
With the rich Kent countryside home to fantastic places like the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, and stuffed with artisan growers and producers, it’s obvious that Kent is no longer a place just to pass through on the way to the Channel ports – it is there to be explored. Whether you are booked onto one of Brogdale Collection’s daily tours or short courses, or are just taking a gentle orchard walk, you’ll need feeding afterwards. Fortunately, this part of Kent is a magnate for talented chefs whose top priority is to promote the wealth of fantastic produce on their doorstep.
Read’s Restaurant with Rooms, Faversham. (1.8 miles from Brogdale)
Suggesting a rare level of reliability and consistency this Kent veteran on Brogdale Collection’s doorstep, has been run for more than four decades by David and Rona Pitchford. It is a country restaurant of inestimable class, with boutique bedrooms cited as further incentive for bookmarking a visit. Staff do their level best from greeting to farewell to make all feel welcome, and the kitchen’s output – a very good-value set lunch and reasonably priced tasting menu – is dependent on seasonal and local supplies (from Stour Valley game to Kentish lamb), as well as produce from its own kitchen garden. Garden beetroot, for example, is served with locally made goat’s cheese, hazelnuts, basil pesto and pickled shallots, while fillet of sea bass is served with confit potato, prawns, spinach, samphire and red pepper sauce. The cheeseboard is British (of course) and soufflés – the raspberry especially – have been highly praised.
The Sportsman, Seasalter (6.1 miles from Brogdale)
It has long been one of the top dining destinations in the country – a remarkable achievement considering its refusal to conform to the dictates of fine dining. Indeed, The Sportsman could hardly be lower key if it tried, evident in the paper napkins and scrubbed wooden tables. While it is well worth the pilgrimage, be warned, a table here does require planning well ahead. Stephen Harris’s vision is delightfully simple, obsessively influenced by the raw materials available on the doorstep. His produce-first approach can be seen in the constantly changing five-course tasting menu (with several choices per course), which integrates local ingredients with some up-to-date flourishes and a good measure of comfort – from crab, with carrots and hollandaise, wild sea bass with lobster and herbs and vegetables from the garden, or pink, succulent roast lamb with artichoke hearts, to elderflower posset or strawberry and custard tart.
The Goods Shed, Canterbury (9.8 miles, from Brogdale)
If there’s one thing better than a good farmers’ market, then it’s a good farmers’ market that does the cooking for you. This former railway shed next to Canterbury West station is just that – alongside the stalls selling local fruit and veg, meat, cheese, fish and more, there’s a sit-down restaurant with a simple, bare-brick fit-out, amiable service, diners generating a lively buzz, and exactly the right take on seasonality. The result is a blackboard roster of up-to-the-minute dishes that might offer (on a warm summer’s day) a simple dish of tomato, anchovy, basil and croûtons or raw beef with beetroot, green peppercorn and mayonnaise, followed perhaps by hake with tomato, mussels, clams and kalamata olives with aioli, or a roast summer quash with white beans and walnut dressing. To drink there are local ales, ciders, and there’s a selection of Kentish wines on the brief European wine list.
Wheelers Oyster Bar, Whitstable (10.2miles from Brogdale)
The candyfloss-pink frontage and walls crowded with maritime pictures announce one of Whitstable’s most cherishable assets, a seafood haven since the mid-Victorian era, still serving boat-fresh fish and shellfish to the discerning. A roaring takeaway trade might send you off with a prawn and crab tartlet to treasure, and there are seasonal pre-orderable boxes to furnish the most sumptuous beach picnics – should the weather be co-operating. Mark Stubbs embraces a dazzling range of culinary styles that might bring on a ceviche of brill alight with lime, ginger and chilli, with crab and pickled kohlrabi salad and pink grapefruit granita, just to get started. Among principal dishes, the halibut in mulligatawny with saffron aïoli mash stands out, while a lobster version of lasagne incorporates chanterelles and stem broccoli. The lightest option for finishing could be a passionfruit and orange crumble soufflé with white chocolate ice cream. Unlicensed – but nip into the ‘Offy’ opposite for a bottle of wine.
JoJo’s, Tankerton (11.4miles from Brogdale)
Whatever the weather, Nikki Billington’s seafront restaurant has a sunny disposition that is matched by the cooking. The bare wooden tables and floor, and light, bright dining room set the tone for fuss-free tapas that are Mediterranean in style but anchored by impeccably sourced ingredients including the freshest fish and seasonal herbs and vegetables, occasionally own-grown. Kicking off with a vegetarian or charcuterie-based sharing platter is a must for most visitors, and mutton and feta koftas and deep-fried calamari – the best in the area – are menu mainstays. There’s plenty of chargrilling, mackerel fillet (with a side salad and seasonal dip) or bavette steak (with sweet potato and horseradish and mustard crème fraîche), but expect to see imaginative tapas getting their moment of glory on the specials board. Do reserve a table (online bookings are taken up to 31 days in advance). The sea and sunset make for a pretty irresistible vista from the dining room or little terrace.
Join The Good Food Guide Club
As a customer of Panzer’s, you can join The Good Food Guide Club for a special price of £29.99 for one year saving £20 (normally £49.99/year) during the whole month of September. Use promo code GFGPZR when signing up to the Club via this link.