Discover intimate, relaxed and inspired fine dining in a warm, charming and unpretentious setting: Thackeray’s
Housed within the oldest building in Tunbridge Wells, Thackeray’s, named after its nineteenth-century owner English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, sits in a Grade II listed building, built around 1660, which offers plenty of history, charm and character, as well as a true warm welcome from the dedicated team at its helm.
The restaurant, the first in renown chef Richard Phillips’ Kent-based, award-winning restaurant portfolio, is beautifully unique; white painted tiles, deep black framed windows and sloped ceilings, with slightly wonky stairways that add to the charm. Inside, the elegant décor and low ceilings create a warm and intimate ambiance to the dining rooms, which are split into two areas on the ground floor as well as upstairs rooms for private dining or celebratory parties.
My guests and I were welcomed like old friends and we were delighted to be sat in our favourite spot, the spacious bay window table, perfectly placed to offer views across the dining room, out to the inviting outside bar and terrace below, and to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. We highly recommend the citrus and sweet notes of the Toffee Apple Cosmo (citrus vodka, butterscotch and apple schnapps and apple presse), which we devoured, alongside the table snacks of butternut and sage soup and heavenly mac and cheese bites, and the bread basket, with its moorish whipped marmite butter, whilst perusing the seasonal menu choices.
The menus are purposefully varied to avoid exclusivity and include a daily set lunch menu, indulgent chef’s tasting menu created to showcase the knowledge, passion and creativity of head chef Patrick Hill, and taste-bud tempting á la carte options from which our evening’s dishes were chosen.
Our starters delivered beautifully presented and wonderfully tasting dishes; the rich smoothness of the foie gras parfait, with roast concorde pears, pear gel, confit duck leg and moorish truffle popcorn; the perfectly roasted diver-caught scallops, with baby globe artichoke and crushed violet potato, and added texture from toasted hazelnuts and praline; and the confit of Loch Duart salmon, served with smoked aubergine caviar, apricot, enoki mushroom, heritage radish, and surrounded by a rich soy and mushroom broth.
The main courses continued to impress; the delicate Monkfish, was served on the bone with crisp cheek, ventreche bacon, roast leek, barbequed celeriac, barolo jus and a copper pan of delicious ‘baked beans’. The Old Spot pork loin proved that pork can be beautiful too, as the delightful plate offered a braised and glazed belly, pulled pork shoulder ravioli offset with pickled radish, caramelized chicory, mint and English feta. Whilst my own sirloin of beef was a triumph of 50-day aged Dexter beef, perfectly grilled, served with salt-baked celeriac, lovage pesto, fermented garlic, oxtail salad and a devine, rich, braised brisket rosti, with the local cauliflower cheese proving the side dish favourite of the evening.
Not ones to turn down dessert, we were delighted to see that Thackeray’s acclaimed souffle was on the menu, one guest went rouge ordering the dark chocolate pave to satisfy his taste for rum, peanut butter, banana and coconut and whilst not disappointed had to concede that the apple and blackberry crumble souffle was the dessert winner of the evening. The delightful, perfectly risen, light purple souffle was presented to fanfare, before the addition of the rich, sweet, vanilla custard and a sharp green apple sorbet which elevated this dish to amazing highs.
The Thackeray’s premise is refreshingly simple; unpretentious fine dining, a warm atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable service, and fresh, seasonal and, where possible, local produce, used to create dishes with a modern take on classic European culinary philosophy. Its execution is exemplary.
Thackeray’s, 85 London Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1EA