Award-winning dining at The Corner House
It is said ‘a lot can happen in a year’, and in the case of The Corner House in Minster, this ol’ proverb could hardly ring truer. Since my initial visit exactly 12 months ago, this independent restaurant and rooms has, amongst other accolades, been listed in Waitrose’s Good Food Guide 2015; recommended in the Michelin Guide 2015, and most recently, scooped the coveted Restaurant of the Year title at the Taste of Kent Awards. Impressive for a business that celebrates its second birthday this June, you might say; but utterly deserved.
by Gemma Dunn
For the residents of historic Minster and its surrounding villages, the charming building that hosts The Corner House has long been an integral part of the community, sharing its walls with three workers’ cottages, a tearoom, shop, café, and numerous restaurants – including one run by the current owner’s father – in days gone by.
Founded by Matt Sworder – a London-trained chef renowned for stints at Gordan Ramsay’s La Noisette, Les Deux Salons, and Bistro Union – in 2013, The Corner House is quite simply the local restaurant that everybody wants close at hand. But that said, it’s equally a destination worth travelling to, and undoubtedly my first suggestion when asked for a countywide recommendation. And if you can’t trust your own advice, whose can you trust?
With that in mind, I booked up my one-year-on obligatory visit and joined a bustling restaurant of mid-week diners who, like me, were delighted to be out in throes of spring.
Kicking off the evening with a glass of Biddenden’s Gribble Bridge Rosé, my guest and I perused the menus, tempted by the nostalgic scent of fresh home-baked bread wafting from the kitchen. Committed to serving quality British fare, The Corner House makes all of its dishes from scratch and is celebrated for its penchant for provenance and ever-changing menus, which afford seasonal, locally sourced produce.
Picking from the specials menu, my starter of choice was gastro-pub favourite, pork terrine; a classic dish perfectly balanced with apricot and pistachio accents, and met with warm bread and delicious homemade piccalilli. Meanwhile, my guest’s potted rabbit and ham, which features on the regular menu, was a triumph, paired with Biddenden jelly and a crunchy radish salad.
In the way of mains, the New Church Farm lamb shoulder (for two or four) took my fancy. However, for those of you who are familiar with the US sitcom, Friends, much like Joey, Gemma doesn’t share food – and this required sharing. However lured by the restaurant’s signature dish (I was assured there was uproar when it was taken off the menu previously), suffice to say I did share, and it was incredible!
Forget about carving this slow-cooked joint; this fragrant, tender lamb fell from the bone and was served with the most wonderful of all potato dishes – dauphinoise; winter vegetables; and a delectable lamb jus. Flavoursome and fabulous, this option more than warrants its riot-inducing effect.
The restaurant’s sharing-is-caring concept also extends to mains of roast chicken and whole rabbit loin, plus The Corner House’s popular sharing board starter. An abundant approach, this sociable and varied style of eating is the essence of family meal times and further enhances the relaxing, informal environment that Matt and his team work hard to achieve. While there is no compromise on the Michelin standard of food served, there’s movement in how you choose to consume it – and I like that.
Our choice of desserts was also collective, but in this instance it was due to an indecisiveness streak and the simple fear of missing out. With two spoons for each, my guest and I enjoyed a divinely rich dark chocolate and bay tart, served with praline ice cream, and decorated with pine nut brittle (a sweet spin on the traditional peanut); followed by a second dish of creamy, homemade honeycomb ice cream. A fitting end to a string of exceptional courses.
But the culinary experience to be had at The Corner House isn’t limited to evening guests; it also offers Sunday lunch, bar food and unrivalled weekday lunch menus, which now feature an £8-for-one-course option, perfect for the discerning daytime diner.
The Corner House’s attentive team, beautiful guestrooms, award-winning fare, quirky furnishings, and eclectic gallery of local art are undeniably key ingredients to its success; however, it’s Matt and the team’s humbled and all-inclusive approach to each and every customer that for me, sets this eatery apart from its competitors.
Destined for continued success, this thriving restaurant and rooms injects something a little different into the South East foodie scene, and that in itself is exciting.
The Corner House, 42 Station Road, Minster CT12 4BZ
01843 823000 / www.thecornerhouseminster.co.uk