Romance Is In The Air
Food and romance have had a long history together, coupling up cosily for dates, anniversaries, special occasions, and just because. The term ‘made with love’ has never been more apt than when linked to gorgeous food, and studies show that dishes made for and by a loved one actually taste better to those for whom they are intended – love can actually be tasted.
But what is better than cooking food for someone you love? Going out to a romantic restaurant with them, of course. And Kent has more than its fair share of places to enjoy a bit of alone time – just you, your partner, and some fantastic food.
There’s something about listening to the waves of the sea that makes any dinner for two instantly more romantic. And thanks to the gorgeous terrace that Rocksalt is so rightly proud of, you and your loved one can sit in the open air and enjoy that sound, as well as stunning views. Even if the weather and the season aren’t conducive to a meal outside, the interior of this restaurant and bar has lovely low lighting and exquisite décor. With a wide range of cocktails, locally sourced ingredients (that make dishes such as apple cured Rye Bay scallops with celery and fennel and whole Dover sole grilled with hollandaise or pan-fried with brown caper butter), and rooms for an overnight stay, Rocksalt has romance in hand.
Ashford’s Amici is a family-run Italian restaurant that offers its diners authentic tastes from all across Italy. The chefs are both Italian, and the restaurant itself is cosy and intimate, offering a romantic place to eat where all you need to think about is each other – and what food you might want to choose. The choice is a great one, and everything is fresh and cooked with passion. Try the arancini al salmone affumicato (homemade Sicilian smoked salmon and peas with rice balls and an arrabbiata sauce on the side); the linguine all’astice e gamberoni (lobster and king prawn linguine with tomato, chilli, garlic, and lobster bisque); or even the 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).
Victuals & Co, Deal
For a wonderful romantic evening at a restaurant that not only has a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere but combines that with perfectly cooked, exciting looking (and tasting!) food, visit Victuals & Co in Deal. Here you will be made to feel like old friends, particularly when the owner greets you at the door. It makes all the difference, and will immediately put you – and your partner – at ease, meaning you can simply enjoy the evening as you want to. Attentive service with a smile that is also unobtrusive allows for couples to have some time to themselves. As for the food, it is remarkable, and includes dishes such as smoked salmon terrine with beetroot, horseradish cream and soda toast; pan-fried local sea trout with sauté potatoes, a tomato and anchovy sauce, and a Mediterranean salad; and poached peach with a raspberry sorbet, plum and port jelly and roasted rhubarb.
Mullins Brasserie, Margate
Mullins Brasserie in Margate is the perfect combination of exquisite food (modern European with a twist – that twist being that it is fused with cuisine from the Caribbean) and the most romantic of atmospheres. Add that to a staff who will help you to arrange romantic proposals, make your first, second or one hundredth date magical, and will be more than happy to host your wedding anniversary meal, and you’ve got a comfortable, relaxed, intimate, and utterly unforgettable dining experience. Chef Antonio Forde is originally from Barbados, and his food it sublime. With dishes including pan seared Cajun spiced scallops with butternut squash puree, pickled christophene and confit tomatoes, traditional West Indian curried goat served with rice ‘n’ peas and tomato chutney and mango crème brulee you can escape to exotic climes without having to leave Kent’s shores. As a bonus, Mullins Brasserie offers a special Valentine’s Day menu too.
Five Bells Inn, Brabourne
The Five Bells Inn is special. There is romance seemingly built into the brickwork, letting anyone who enters know that this is a place that they can relax in, indulge in, and enjoy. Candlelit dinners for two are a specialty here, and the food is ambitious, delicious and locally sourced wherever possible. Examples of the food on offer at the Five Bells Inn include minted lamb chops with chargrilled vegetables, sweet potato chips, and a yoghurt, spring onion and coriander salad; the Five Bells fish platter; and the intriguing and delectable chocolate indulgence. But you can stay for more than dinner at this wonderful, rustic, romantic restaurant and pub. There are rooms for an overnight stay which – with large, free-standing copper baths and open fires, and the chance to come down to breakfast and the smell of freshly baked bread – make any occasion all that more special.
Saltwood On The Green, Saltwood
Saltwood is a romantic village as it is – it is like stepping back in time to a moment when village greens, local shops and community were what mattered. And Saltwood On The Green, located right in the heart of this village (and we promise, Saltwood has a lot of heart), is the kind of intimate, friendly place where names are known and anniversaries are never forgotten. So why not take a step back from the hustle and bustle of ‘real life’ and enjoy a romantic evening with the one you love at this gorgeously decorated (deep wood elements and a calming, relaxing green theme) restaurant? Soft jazz playing allows for whispered conversations, and the low lighting is enough to enjoy looking into a loved one’s eyes. Dishes here are simple with huge flavour and include maple-cured salmon with a pancake and pecans; braised pork collar with cooking liquor, peas, truffle and beans; and local plaice with tomato, corn, charred spring onion and giant cous cous.
Mu Mu, Maidstone
Mu Mu in Maidstone is something completely different; this is an event, an experience – more than just a great meal out. And as for romance, if you really want to treat your loved one, if you absolutely want to show them a fabulous time, Mu Mu is the place to go. Mu Mu is so popular that you will need to book in advance, and, for a particular date, you might even need to go on a waiting list. Plus, bear in mind that on Friday and Saturday nights there are two sittings, so lingering over your meal isn’t always possible. But sometimes that’s not what a romantic night out is all about. Sometimes it’s about trying something new. The food at Mu Mu is modern and classy, and it tastes divine. Examples from the à la carte menu include pesto oven-roasted red pepper and goat’s cheese bruschetta on a bed of dressed rocket salad; the Mu Mu falafel burger with grilled halloumi, caramelised onions and sautéed mushrooms served with Mu Mu chips and four cabbage coleslaw; and prime Kentish fillet steak served with Mu Mu chips and salad. As well as the food, it is the Mu Mu cabaret that ramps up the romance, and makes this a meal out with something extra. On Friday and Saturday nights there are often dinner shows with superb live entertainment including Madame Mu Mu herself!
Thackeray’s, Tunbridge Wells
At multi-award-winning Thackeray’s Restaurant, chef and proprietor Richard Phillips offers a modern take on French classics, and has been since a major refurbishment in 2010. Since then, the restaurant has grown hugely in popularity, and offers private dining for a truly romantic evening. Even if you choose to eat in the main restaurant, thanks to the lovely low lighting and the character of this Grade II listed building it really does feel as though your intimate meal is just for you. It’s not loud, and it’s not brash; Thackeray’s is calm, relaxing and luxurious in the most inviting kind of way. For an even more tranquil and wonderful meal, why not enjoy your stunning food on the terrace? This outside space has been developed exclusively for Thackeray’s diners, and whether you eat here or inside, whether you dine privately or with others, your romantic evening will be perfect. Food at Thackeray’s includes cocktail of lobster with scrambled egg, crushed peas and tomato; poached skate wing with leek, new potato, summer peas, steamed mussels and saffron nage; and white chocolate and cherry ripple parfait with natural yoghurt, toasted pistachios and cherry gel.
Café Mauresque, Canterbury
With warm, low lighting; soft, squishy sofas; wooden floors that give an intimate feel and candlelight shining on the tables, Café Mauresque is the kind of restaurant in which you and your loved one can indulge in wonderful food (North African and Andalusian flavours) and one another’s company whilst letting the rest of the world disappear around you. Café Mauresque is located in a cellar, giving it an even more romantic appeal, and the friendly staff and unique food lend it an air of wonder. Plus, much of the food is served in a tapas style, and as a sharing platter, so the two of you can experience the same food at the same time. That food includes dishes such as sweet pepper gratin stuffed with mushroom and served with aubergine fritters; chorizo and pork (a lightly spiced Spanish-inspired dish with butter beans, peppers and spinach, topped with pork scratchings); and seafood saffron paella topped with a chargrilled squid and chorizo skewer and tiger prawns.
Buenos Aires Restaurant, Maidstone
Located right on Maidstone High Street, you might think that Buenos Aires would be a loud place to have a meal, and certainly not one in which a whispered conversation could take place. But you would be wrong. Step through the door here and you will find that you leave the hustle and bustle of the town behind you as you are steeped in authentic Argentinian atmosphere and décor. Start with a cocktail at the bar, then move on to your table for two to enjoy food made at Kent’s only Argentinian steakhouse. The food is inventive and unique, yet comforting, giving you and your loved one the chance to try something new that you are guaranteed to enjoy. Food includes provoleta cheese (typical Argentine cheese with slow-cooked tomato and oregano), chicken portenio (grilled chicken breast with mushroom sauce served with potatoes and onions and cooked in a white wine sauce), and bife de churrasco (chargrilled Argentine rump steak served with French fries or salad).
Castle View Restaurant, Leeds Castle, Maidstone
A romantic restaurant needs certain things. It needs to have low, romantic lighting. It needs to allow for conversation. The staff need to be attentive yet unobtrusive. And the food needs to magnificent. Castle View Restaurant at Leeds Castle has all of that and much, much more. Using only the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients, the skilled chefs offer exceptional dishes including Scotch duck egg with celeriac remoulade and chutney; chargrilled chicken breast with pak choi, lemongrass, lime leaf, coconut cream and crispy noodles; and rhubarb cheesecake served with ginger ice cream and anise Anglaise. But what really makes Castle View Restaurant is also the thing that gives it is name – the views across Leeds Castle’s moat, giving a spectacular look at the 900-year-old Leeds Castle is what makes coming here utterly worthwhile.
The Vineyard, Wrotham
When a restaurant is happy to go out of its way to ensure that you are happy, comfortable, well fed and relaxed, it’s the kind of place you will want to go back to time and again. And it’s the kind of place you will want to take your loved ones to enjoy the special atmosphere and food. At The Vineyard, you can dine on smoked salmon and crab roulade; fillet Gustavos topped with asparagus and hollandaise sauce, glazed and served with red wine sauce; and chicken stroganoff amongst a plethora of other wonderful dishes. With a décor that is inviting and intimate, and that little bit special with crisp white tablecloths and candles, The Vineyard should absolutely be a place to try.