Unique dining at The Milk House
Nestled in rural Sissinghurst, with striking views of The Weald, The Milk House is the epitome of a charming village pub – and then some. Unambiguous in its intention, this former 16th-century house offers loyal locals and visitors alike delicious dining opportunities, a lawn terrace for those sunnier climes and chic en suite rooms to boot. And having recently been listed in The Michelin Guide to Eating Out in Pubs 2015, it certainly seems to be ticking all the right boxes.
by Gemma Dunn
Inside The Milk House, husband-and-wife team and owners Dane and Sarah have worked tirelessly to channel their unfussy, entirely elegant vision in all aspects of the business. From the understated, yet stylish interiors, which boast exposed timber beams, light wooden furnishings, local artwork and a striking Tudor fireplace, to the ample dining menus and four beautifully appointed bedrooms, the village pub ‘boundaries’ are admirably extended in all the right directions.
On this occasion, I was visiting The Milk House to sample its culinary fare and let’s face it, wine! Upon hearing about the pub’s current affiliation with Kent Vineyard’s prized release, Rampant Horse, there was only ever going to be one choice for me. And it was a good one.
Another winning pick was my table’s winning trio of starters. Hailing from the spring menu, these included smoked duck with a crisp potato galette, and a chicory and piquant orange salad; heirloom tomato sundae with lemon-thyme bocconcini, baby leaves, basil, a black olive oil dressing and a Parma ham wafer; and brown shrimps with cabbage, chervil, parsley, green olive slaw, and an olive oil dressing.
Seasonal, fresh and locally sourced ingredients, refined and concocted in The Milk House’s – unique and characterful – style made for a faultless first course, which, we were pleased to discover traversed into our second.
Scrumptious, sticky marmalade pork ribs served with a wild, red and brown rice salad and homemade smoked tomato compote was a delicious contender, while my guests’ pavé rump steak and chicken and parmesan piccata did little to waiver from exceptional. Paired with basil pesto orzo (a form of short-cut pasta), the chicken was moist and flavoursome, bedded on a rocket salad and met with a red pepper and tomato coulis; while, the free-range local beef, accompanied by a spring onion, horseradish and potato rosti, wilted spinach, and black pepper jus, was cooked to precision.
Met with caution, but swiftly followed up with a resounding someone-say-it-first ‘yes’, the suggestion of the dessert menu was a rhetorical question if I’ve ever heard one. And I’m incredibly glad in my circle of friends that the response is forever unanimous.
On this instance, we decided to share – translation: grab what you can, while you can – the hard and soft Wealden cheese board and a bountiful bowl of Sublime clotted cream and fudge ice cream – sublime being the operative word.
Interestingly, it’s at Dane’s request that there’s no chocolate dessert option available, which for a cocoa fiend like me, was actually rather liberating! Again, this reinforces The Milk House’s desire to defy run-of-the-mill classics in favour of more exciting, innovative dishes; and refreshingly, the attentive front of house team is well versed on each and every one.
Changing up the menus with the turn of the seasons, Dane, who remains at the helm in the kitchen and has recently returned from a foodie research trip to Hong Kong, let me in on a secret that his summer edition will, as a result, incorporate Asian influences with a British twist. In addition to seasonal, the pub serves up a grazing, classic, Sunday lunch and children’s menu.
If you fancy a spot of al fresco fun this summer, The Milk House’s terrace can offer just that. Whether you’re relaxing on the lawn with a drink in hand from the TMH Hopper Hut (the amazing outdoor bar), or you’re parked at the huge, medieval-banquet-style table with a delicious homemade pizza cooked via the pub’s Mediterranean-esque, traditional wood-fired pizza oven, The Milk House’s garden area really is the pièce de résistance to an all-round experience.
What’s more, upon hearing just how good the pizzas are, and with the promise of another Rampant Horse on the lawn should the sun show its face, I’m first in line for a return to The Milk House this summer – and you should follow!
The Milk House, The Street, Sissinghurst TN17 2JG