Daytime dining at the Twig and Spoon
Far from your run-of-the-mill garden centre eatery, the Twig and Spoon in Ash is fast becoming a destination restaurant celebrated for its distinctive British cuisine and unreserved commitment to the discerning daytime diner. And I, for one, am sold.
by Gemma Dunn
Growing up, it’s fair to say I spent many a Saturday morning following my parents around a garden centre on the premise that if I was ‘good’, a pastry from the onsite café may well be on the cards. Oh how things change. Not only do I now visit the said attraction voluntarily (for the gifts and culinary offerings, albeit), but the entire experience has had a revival of sorts.
Gone are the days when garden centres were regarded the preface to a day spent potting and planting; today, it is all about the notable add-ons that make it an experience (or even a day out) for the whole family. And they don’t come much more accommodating than Woodlands Garden Centre in Ash. Established in 1969, this family-run venue counts an abundant gift shop, aquatics department, award-winning restaurant, and Kent Firefighting Museum amongst its ‘extras’.
Having already pledged my allegiance to the food side of proceedings, it’s no surprise that Woodlands’ prized eatery, the Twig and Spoon, trumped my agenda. Inside, think New England décor, enhanced by dark wood furnishings, contemporary artwork, novel light fittings, and fresh flowers (which by the way, are available to buy!). In the warmer months, a large Mediterranean-esque courtyard offers al fresco dining too.
Poles apart from the self-serve model that’s rolled out across many similar establishments, restaurant manager, Olivier Frangne, and his dedicated team offer waiter service to deliver the Twig and Spoon‘s good quality, British cuisine.
Open from 9.15am-4.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays, the Twig and Spoon’s innovative menus cover everything from cold juices and coffees to brunch, daily specials, lunch and afternoon tea. And while the dishes listed may change with the seasons, the teams’ utter commitment to provenance and sustainability does not. For head chef, Christopher Bish, the emphasis on utilising fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced directly from trusted local producers, is certainly warranted once you taste the food on offer.
Picking from the special’s menu, I enjoyed a succulent minted lamb burger, paired with Cajun spiced wedges and a delectable tomato relish, while my guest opted for the classic steak, mushroom and Kentish ale pie; an all-round winner encased in a golden crisp pastry and accompanied by mashed potatoes and seasonal veg.
Not your average mid-week lunch by any means, ‘should I have a dessert?’ was a rhetorical question if I ever have heard one. Having spotted the cake cabinet on my way in, there was only ever going to be one conclusion to this sitting and that involved the latter. Made from scratch in-house, our shared millionaire’s shortbread and decadent carrot cake (never put all of your eggs in one basket), certainly did not disappoint.
However, it’s not just the Twig and Spoon’s sweet treats that are attracting new and returning clientele. The restaurant’s success is written in its non-contrived menus; ability to serve honest, simple food – and do it well; offer of a unique experience every time; and most importantly, the fact that its 19-strong team believes in and practices these ethics every step of the way.
With Olivier at the helm and an ever-growing customer base, the Twig and Spoon really has got it just right. Deserved of every triumph, the future is infinitely bright for this Kentish gem.
Twig and Spoon, Woodlands Garden Centre, Ash Lane, Ash, Nr Sevenoaks TN15 7EG
01474 852788 / 854094