KENT WORLD GOURMET
Kent is an exciting place to live, especially if you’re a foodie. We have a plethora of amazing restaurants offering delicious, freshly prepared, often locally sourced dishes that make our taste buds happy. What’s really special about Kent is the number of world cuisines we have on our doorstep. From India to Mexico, from Nepal to France, from Turkey to America (and many others too) we can try flavours from around the world without having to leave our own fantastic county.
Trying new foods is something that we should all do when possible for a variety of wonderful reasons. For one thing, it means we get to expand our experience of great food, finding new flavours and ingredients that we may not have tried before. It also sets a great example for children who may be fairly fussy eaters; if they see someone they look up to trying something for the first time, they might be persuaded to do the same. It can also lead to more cooking being done at home which is a skill that is so useful and comes easily with enough practice.
So if you’re keen to expand your foodie horizons and see what the rest of the world has to offer, here are some of the very best Kentish restaurants that will offer you exactly that.
Shampan at The Spinning Wheel // Westerham
Shampan at The Spinning Wheel in Westerham serves up incredible Indian cuisine, but not, perhaps, as you’ve known it before. The ethos behind Shampan is that dining should be an experience, one to savour and remember – one to return to again and again if possible. And that’s what you get at Shampan at The Spinning Wheel.
Award-winning Shampan at The Spinning Wheel has changed the way we look at Indian food, offering both traditional and contemporary dishes with a modern twist that comes from experienced chefs using the finest quality ingredients. This is authentic Indian cuisine for the twenty-first century that looks as good as it tastes.
Just a few examples of what could be found on the menu (along with a vast choice of wine, beer and even cocktails) include griddle seared king scallops, cumin peas and cauliflower purée, grilled duck breast with Goan curry sauce and cumin mashed potatoes, and clove smoked saddle of venison with jodhpuri spices, crisp okra and pilau rice.
www.shampangroup.com/westerham / 01959 572622
Gurkha Palace // Folkestone
Nepalese cuisine should always make the tastes buds sing and put a smile on the diner’s face. The goods news is, the Gurkha Palace in Folkestone specialises in giving their diners exactly the right kind of authentic Nepalese food that is memorable for all the right reasons.
The Gurkha Palace has been serving its own take on this wonderful gourmet food since 2000 and in that time it has won a variety of both local and national awards thanks to its innovative menus, clever chefs and the fact that it never compromises on the quality and the freshness of its ingredients.
Nepal is a country that is steeped in tradition and the idea behind the items found on the menu at the Gurkha Palace is that the rest of the world should understand and be part of these traditions too. You can order ledho kukhura (chargrilled sliced pieces of chicken cooked to an original Nepalese recipe), phewa prawn (king prawns cooked in an onion, tomato, ginger and green pepper sauce garnished with fresh coriander) and pahadi kukhura (a Nepalese highland delicacy – a delicious dish of boneless chicken marinated in yogurt, fresh mint, green chillies and garnished with coriander), for example.
www.gurkhapalace.co.uk / 01303 257700
Fiesta Mexicana // Orpington
If you want to experience Mexican food in a fun, vibrant, exciting setting then Fiesta Mexicana (as the name itself suggests) is the place to go. Established over 10 years ago, Fiesta Mexicana has been popular ever since. This is partly due to the fantastic atmosphere you get when you go there, partly due to the knowledgable and friendly staff and partly down to the food – it’s wonderful. Authentic and delicious, Fiesta Mexicana takes all that is great about Mexican cuisine (which is a lot – fresh ingredients, lots of vegetables, tangy sauces) and combines it with a more local flavour; many of the ingredients are locally sourced.
So what could you order if you decided to visit Fiesta Mexicana (and La Cubana Cocktail Bar within it)? Some examples of the great food here include shredded chicken, spicy ground beef or vegetable chimichangas (deep fried tortilla with re-fried beans and cheese), grilled swordfish in margarita lime butter (chargrilled swordfish steak served sizzling over Cajun vegetables and topped with lime and lemon butter) and peri-peri king prawn with sweet chilli sauce.
www.fiestamexicana.co.uk / 01689 823334
Mullins Brasserie // Margate
The food at Mullins Brasserie is ‘modern European cuisine with a hint of the Caribbean’. That hint is a special one, giving each dish a fresh, spicy, flavoursome appeal that is hard to beat. Caribbean food is often considered to be soul food, feeding the mind, body and soul so that all of the problems you might have been worrying about fade away due to the taste of the food.
That’s quite a reputation to keep up with, but at Mullins Brasserie it really does feel as though you can indulge and enjoy in a beautiful restaurant eating wonderful food and just forget about everything else, at least for a while. That’s something very special indeed, and it’s why Mullins is such a popular place to eat.
The restaurant itself is a converted butchers, now filled with contemporary furnishings and cosy design features. There is a warm and friendly feeling when you step through the doors and that extends to the food created by Barbados-born chef Antonio Forde. No matter what you choose from a menu that includes items such as callaloo, chick pea and sweet potato cannelloni baked in a creamy jerk cheddar cheese sauce, traditional West Indian curried goat served with rice ‘n’ peas and tomato chutney, and roast fillet of pork served with a coconut fondant potato, fried plantain, spiced aubergine puree and Provencal sauce, you will be happy with your choice.
www.mullinsbrasserie.co.uk / 01843 295603
7 Hotel & Diner // Halstead nr Sevenoaks
The 7 Hotel & Diner is a bit of a gem in Kent. It’s a lively, colourful diner in the American 1950’s kind of style, and the menu is a good choice of burgers, hot dogs, chicken dishes and more. When we say a good choice, we definitely mean it. There are many different variations of these classics that you can choose from including the Sweet Carolina (a burger smothered in barbecue sauce), the Elvis (with peanut butter and bacon) and the Area 51 with 7 Diner’s special liquid fire hot sauce and cheese!
Hot dogs have the same great choice, and there are plenty of sharing platters too. It’s the kids’ menu that really makes this place stand out though, and that has a great range on it too such as The Cod Father (fisher fingers in a bun) and the Mini New York Hot Dog. As well as all this, the milkshakes here are thick and delicious and come in some unusual flavours (bubblegum, salted caramel, Skittles…) and to top everything off there is a fantastic children’s play area outside!
www.7hoteldiner.co.uk / 01959 535890
Hattusa // Sevenoaks & Tunbridge Wells
Hattusa is a Turkish restaurant with two convenient locations (Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells) where you can taste the real cuisine of Turkey and learn about the country’s history while you do so. You can even be treated to a view of samples of traditional Turkish pottery around the restaurant, and the helpful staff will happily point out their recommendations from the mouthwatering menu.
Or why not try something completely new? There are many dishes to choose from including adana (lean minced lamb skewered and grilled over charcoal), chicken kofte yogurtlu (marinated chicken mince skewered and grilled over charcoal chopped on a bed of bread, topped with tomato sauce and yogurt then drizzled with butter) and vegetable beyti (falafel with humus, patlican soslu and hellim, wrapped in lavash bread and topped with tomato sauce, then drizzled with butter served with yogurt and bulgur rice). There are also meze sharing platters and a tasty kids’ menu so that the whole family can try something new.
www.hattusa.co.uk / 01732 463752 and 01892 513449
Azouma // Canterbury
Azouma offers exceptional Lebanese food in a gorgeously intimate setting that allows diners to use all their senses to enjoy this fantastic cuisine. Here you will get an idea of the spiritual and historical importance of Lebanon in dishes that combine a Middle Eastern flair with Mediterranean freshness.
If that sounds too good to be true, here are some of the menu items you can choose from: baba ghanoush (flavoursome grilled and smoked aubergine with sesame paste seasoned with a touch of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate), fish tagine (king prawn and sea bass cooked with mixed with mixed peppers, courgette, potatoes olives, lemon, ginger, garlic and coriander, and qousi lahem (oven slow cooked lamb shank with ras el hanout and cinnamon and served with spinach).
www.azouma.co.uk / 01227 760076
Rico Sabor // Gravesend
The dream and inspiration of two people who moved to Gravesend in 2006 to start a new adventure has materialised as Rico Sabor Restaurant, a warm and welcoming place where customers enjoy great food and take in the beautiful ambience and music. Passion, dedication and a love for good food are the key ingredients that have created Rico Sabor Restaurant. Bringing the best selection of the most loved dishes from Latin America, including casual street food and a tasty selection of tapas from Spain. Rico Sabor is very proud to bring the flavours and spirit of Latin America to the heart of Gravesend.
The menu is an intriguing assortment of wonderful dishes including chuzo de pollo (land coriander chicken skewers served with grilled vegetables), and different flavoured burritos and costillas (rustic BBQ pork ribs served with chunky chips and coleslaw).
www.ricosabor.co.uk / 01474 365003
Zeus // Canterbury
Zeus in Canterbury is proud of the authentic, fresh Greek flavours that it can provide for its customers, and since everything comes with a creative, modern twist this is not like Greek food you will have had before.
As well as the fantastic food (which includes sheftalia (a Cypriot minced meat delicacy with herbs), garides saganaki (king prawns with peppers, garlic, feta and ouzo in tomato sauce) and stifado (slow-cooked beef with small onions with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and red wine served with rice)) there are live Greek music nights to enjoy.
www.zeuscanterbury.com / 01227 788072
Coco Retro // Tunbridge Wells
Coco Retro is a stunning French bistro. It’s an informal place to eat and that means the food is even more enjoyable; you will find yourself sitting in comfortable, attractive surroundings eating sumptuous food cooked using the best French techniques and with the finest ingredients which are locally sourced wherever possible.
Why not try the confit de canard (duck confit with orange sauce served with honey braised red cabbage and crushed potatoes), the rouleaux de porc (crispy rolled pork with spicy shallots and potato dauphinoise with mayonnaise) or the carbonade flamande (Northern French beef stew slow cooked in ginger and dark beer served with chips)?
www.cocoretro.com / 01892 522773
Amici // Ashford
Amici is a family run authentic Italian restaurant serving delicious homemade food using only the finest ingredients combined with local fresh produce. The two Italian chefs (Nino and Massimo) have many years of experience in the restaurant industry and together with the rest of the Amici team they have created a restaurant which has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere whilst providing excellent food at an affordable price.
Speaking of good food at affordable prices, the menu at Amici offers delights such as polpettine della Nonna (homemade pork and beef meatballs, Neapolitan sauce and melted mozzarella cheese), funghi gratinati (baked chestnut mushrooms in garlic butter, gorgonzola cheese and a savoury gremolada crust) and risotto frutti di mare (carnaroli rice with tiger prawns, calamari, mussels, clams, garlic, chilli and cherry tomatoes flavoured with Sardinian saffron in a tomato based sauce).
www.amici-ashford.co.uk / 01233 666945
Café Mauresque // Canterbury
Walking into Café Mauresque is like walking into a Moroccan town complete with friendly atmosphere, gorgeous décor and sumptuously delicious food. All the food is prepared by the passionate and experienced chefs in the café’s kitchen meaning that everything is fresh and prepared just for you. The herbs and spices used to create the stunning flavours are combined carefully and knowledgably to create the ultimate in authenticity and delicacy.
There are a variety of excellent dishes to choose from including tagines, tapas (ideal for sharing) and larger dishes such as slow roasted pork belly and paella.
www.cafemauresque.co.uk / 01227 464300
Imperial Dynasty // West Malling
Modern and relaxed are the words that come to mind when describing the Imperial Dynasty restaurant in West Malling. It serves contemporary Oriental cuisine that looks great and tastes even better. It has been serving this fantastic food for almost 25 years now and in all that time it has only gained in popularity not only in the local area but further afield too.
Not only is there a traditional Chinese menu, there are additions from Malaysia and Indonesia too ensuring that there truly will be something for everyone to enjoy. In fact, on special event days such as Mother’s Day and Christmas you will find a variety of new dishes being trialled, so this is the perfect time to come and visit. Dishes include baked fresh lobster with black bean sauce, sliced fillet steak in Mandarin sauce and peppercorn salt king prawns.
www.imperialdynasty.co.uk / 01732 840402
Tamago // Canterbury
The ethos behind the fabulous Tamago is that food should be something that brings people together – something that makes them feel good. That’s why the dishes here are prepared in such a careful, loving way. It’s not bland, it’s not standard, it’s something very special and absolutely unique.
The food at Tamago is authentically Japanese and the restaurant itself is a casual place to be. Take a look at the menu and you’ll see dishes including shogayaki bento (ginger marinated pork slices), pumpkin korokke curry and kimchi ramen.
www.tamago.restaurant / 01227 634537