McLeods Restaurant is Open Over Half Term
The wonderful McLeods Restaurant, located in the Gillingham campus of Mid Kent College, is open throughout half term – and it is the perfect opportunity to visit and enjoy some of the sumptuous food on offer.
McLeod’s Restaurant and Bistro Review by Lisamarie Lamb
In Mid-Kent College’s Medway Campus, Gillingham, lies a truly lovely surprise. In the heart of the college (in an area known as ‘The Hub’) is McLeod’s – a restaurant and bistro named after the late and sorely missed college principal, Sue McLeod, that offers fine dining dishes, an excellent selection of wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks, exquisite coffee, and a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere in one gorgeously decorated package.
The kitchen is staffed by head chef Tom Ferguson and three-to-four apprentice chefs from the college itself. But the idea behind it all, says Tom, is that the students get to have hands-on experience in a real working kitchen and restaurant. It makes them work ready, and when they go out into the world after gaining their qualifications, they will have the references and knowledge to go with them. And the ethos behind each dish is that the customers shouldn’t be able to tell that the dishes were created and cooked by students.
It works. That’s the wonderful thing about McLeod’s. It really does what it aims to do. The food I was presented with as I sat in the sophisticated and modern, yet absolutely inviting dining room (burgundy leather chairs with arms, stylish grey sofas, a dark wooden floor, a ceiling design that reminded me of clouds scudding across a Kentish sky) was the perfect mixture of familiar and new.
The bread came first – it is freshly baked each day by the chefs, and when it arrived at my table, it was still warm. This, along with the soft, easy-to-spread butter, the olives, and baby pickles was delightful and very, very moreish.
I sampled two starters during my long lunch at McLeod’s. The first was pork belly, scallop, and peas with cider foam, and the second was cured duck breast with confit duck and a tarragon emulsion. I was hard pressed to pick a favourite, each one was bursting with flavour, and although I knew I had three courses still to go, I couldn’t help but clear my plate(s)…
My main courses were roasted shoulder of lamb with pomme purée and salsa verde. It was served with wonderfully earthy asparagus, and the soft, melting lamb combined with the buttery, perfectly seasoned potato gave me a fresh summery dish. The second main was bake hake with roasted tomatoes and anchovies. This bright, zingy dish was utterly inviting – like sunshine on a plate – and the fish was perfectly cooked.
Dessert – I do love a dessert, and in this case, there were two for me to try! Both were delicious, so whether you prefer something chocolatey (chocolate delice with pistachio ice cream and a hazelnut crumb) or something fruity and creamy (vanilla panna cotta with blackberry sorbet and an oat crumb) you won’t be disappointed. And, if you want to share these desserts are perfect for that (but you really don’t have to…).
The only thing missing from my sumptuous meal was a cheese board; and that’s exactly what came up next. Every cheese on the board was produced in Kent, and it was served with a rather tasty quince jelly to round everything off. Did I say the meal was rounded off? Well, there was coffee to follow of course – coffee from the Amazonian Rainforests that was deep, dark and delightfully decadent.
I spoke with Tom Ferguson about his restaurant, and he is – rightly so – very proud of the work that goes on at McLeod’s, which is open even during the college holidays. The menu is dictated by the season and his local suppliers (vegetables from Chegworth Valley, fish from Chapman’s of Sevenoaks and its day boats in Broadstairs and Hythe, meat from Gunns, dry goods from Turner’s Fine Foods, wine from Hush Heath and Chapel Down), and his top-of-the-range kitchen is only equalled by that of the House of Commons. Everything is set for McLeod’s to become the ultimate place to enjoy high-quality food.
McLeod’s Restaurant and Bistro