There are many old buildings in Kent – our beautiful county has thousands of years of history behind it and plenty of architectural evidence that is still standing in our streets. Finding a building that is not only as wonderfully atmospheric as anyone would hope for, but that also has a story to tell is always a bonus. Built in around 1370, the building that houses what is now The Parrot pub and restaurant in Canterbury is the oldest in the city – and it’s been serving pints to thirsty guests for the last 300 years.
Walking into The Parrot offers customers a glimpse of past glories – dark wooden beams, panelled walls, hanging hops and a large fireplace. It’s cosy and homely without being too cramped and offers the ideal space for couples looking for an intimate dinner for two, as well as groups who want a light lunch and a gossip.
There was something about the Cornish crab, roasted salmon and coconut cake that make my tastebuds tingle even before the food arrived; the description jumped out at me, so I went with my gut (literally). This fishcake was huge, bursting with flavour (not just from the fish – it was served with mint, lime, coriander and chilli sauce) and, although the mash was creamy, it still managed a lovely lightness. My dining partner opted for the salt-and-vinegar chicken wings served with a blue cheese dip. They lasted but minutes, eaten greedily with fingers as they should be and were delicious.
When a burger is described as being ‘gourmet’, I find it impossible to resist, and I’m delighted I picked the smokehouse burger from the tantalising list of options, which include a chicken club burger and something called ‘The Stack’ involving a phenomenal amount of beef. My burger was made with a beef steak, smoked pulled pork, smoked cheese and smoked sweetcure bacon, all smothered in a sweet and sticky barbeque sauce. The ingredients melded together to create a sensational burger absolutely warranting its gourmet tag. My fellow diner decided that the chargrilled Kentish beef sounded just the thing. A 28-day matured chargrilled 10oz ribeye steak served with rock-salted chunky chips, grilled thyme, beef tomato and watercress salad, and a jug of creamy peppercorn sauce, the dish goes above and beyond what a ‘normal’ steak tastes like, which we agreed must have something to do with the ability of the beautiful Kentish countryside to nourish excellent ingredients, and of course, a confident and skilled hand in the kitchen.
To finished, we chose the Bakewell tart and the chocolate brownie. And what a brownie…rich and gooey, dripping with sauce, melting ice cream, popcorn and strawberries, it was divine. With a creamy, tangy raspberry ripple ice cream as an accompaniment, the Bakewell tart offered my sweet tooth everything it desired – crisp pastry with a smooth, almond-flavoured filling and crunchy toasted almonds on the top. I relished every bite.
The building might be the oldest in the city, but when it comes to comforting and hugely satisfying dining, The Parrot couldn’t be more modern.
The Parrot, 1-9 Church Lane, St Radigans, Canterbury CT1 2AG