Dining Out in the
Garden of England!
Online hits the Gourmet Trail around
Royal Tunbridge Wells
nothing new about people visiting
Royal Tunbridge Wells to savour its
local produce. From the time in the
17th century when the young Lord
North first spotted a spring bubbling
up out of the ground, visitors have
been drawn to the town to take advantage
of the allegedly health-giving properties
of the famous Chalybeate Spring waters.
still possible, in the summer, to
'take the waters' served in the traditional
manner by the 'Dipper'. But these
days, people are far more likely
to visit Royal Tunbridge Wells for
the excellence of its restaurants,
the character of its pubs and the
freshness of the local produce that
provides the ingredients for many
of them. This is, after all, the
Garden of England.
who want to plan their eating out
or buying-in schedule ahead of their
visit now have a valuable aid in
the form of a Short
Breaks Guide published
by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
It's available free of charge from
the Tourist Information Centre in
the famous Pantiles (Tel: 01892 515675).
The guide, which is packed with information
and advice on activities from antiques
shopping to rock climbing, will be
an invaluable source of reference
for anyone considering a stay in
Royal Tunbridge Wells or its encahnting
area has a wonderful choice of restaurants,
each offering a high class dining
du Vin Bistro in
Crescent Road (01892 526455)
is a relative newcomer to the
town. Housed in an impressive
18th century sandstone building
that once welcomed the young
Queen Victoria as a guest, it
is the most easterly outpost
of the small but highly regarded
Hotel du Vin chain.
restaurant's inspired, modern eclectic
cooking, under head chef Chris Moore,
has earned rave reviews from all
the top restaurant critics who have
also praised the extensive wine list.
The importance that the Hotel du
Vin places on its cellar is underlined
by the fact that each of the hotel
bedrooms is sponsored by a celebrated
wine house. The restaurant runs a
programme of special wine and dine
events. For information and bookings
call Ellen Joyce on 01892 522966
or visit the website at www.hotelduvin.com
Victoria was also a visitor to the Royal
Wells Inn in Mount Ephraim
(01892 511188) in the early 19th
century and her coat of arms still
adorns the front of the building.
This splendid privately-run hotel
retains much of its Victorian grandeur
and its rooms have some of the best
views in town. There are two restaurants
- the Wells Brasserie and the Conservatory.
Both offer daily changing menus while
the Conservatory also has a full
a la carte option.
in Mount Ephraim is the Spa
Hotel (01892 520331),
a grand Victorian pile set in 14
acres of grounds overlooking the
town. The elegant Chandelier Restaurant
has a traditional air, but chef Edward
Heasman gives his classical dishes
a modern twist to keep things fresh.
a coveted Michelin star has been
awarded for 2003 to Richard Phillips
and his splendidly young and innovative
team. The 17th century building,
home to William Makepeace Thackeray
in the 19th century, has been given
a modern, minimalist look which is
complemented by an intelligently
creative menu which uses the very
best local produce to provide fresh
dishes that sparkle with flavour.
For reservations telephone 01892
favourite with local residents is Signor
Franco in the High Street
(01892 549199). The windows in this
first floor conservatory restaurant
are from Hever Castle. But that's
about the most English thing you'll
find at this welcoming and highly
professional operation that offers
a truly authentic Italian experience.
Tagore has both the
passion and commitment to quality
that is the hallmark of all good
restaurants. The Tagore is in
Neville Street (01892 615100).
The chef was previously in the
kitchens at one of Delhi's most
prestigious restaurants and he
is able to lift even familiar
dishes way above the norm. But
his skills really shine through
on signature dishes such as raan-e-buzhazi
(whole leg of lamb marinated
and cooked over embers).
on the Green is, as
its name suggests, by the village
green at Church Road, Southborough (01892
513161). Husband and wife team
Peter and Paula Bruschi have
created a wonderfully personal
and welcoming atmosphere and
food that provides witty variations
on classical French themes.
In nearby Goudhurst, Hughenden
House Restaurant (01580
212845) offers modern French
and British cuisine in a charming
16th century oak-beamed setting.
Pre-dinner drinks are served
around the inglenook fire.
charming village of Sissinghurst is
home to Rankins (01580
713964), a smart, subtly-lit bistro
serving modern, eclectic cuisine
calling on influences from Europe
Neighbouring Cranbrook is
where you'll find Restaurant
23 (01580 714666). Despite
being located in a 16th century former
weaving factory, the food is modern
French and English.
AND WINE BARS
great pubs in and around Royal Tunbridge
Wells not only offer local beers
but also serve up outstanding food.
House Inn at Smarts Hill,
near Penshurst (01892
870306) was first licensed in
the 19th century when cider was
produced on the premises. These
days it provides a handy stopover
for people visiting the famous
houses and castles of Kent including
Penshurst Place, Hever Castle
and Chartwell. The comprehensive
Egon Ronay-recommended menu changes
daily and all dishes are prepared
from locally supplied produce.
seafood is the house speciality at
Cross Inn at Goudhurst (01580
211200) where diners can choose between
eating in the bar or in the prettily
decorated dining room .
at Goudhurst is the Star & Eagle (01580
211512), a fine 14th century timbered
and gabled hostelry with outstanding
views across the Kentish Weald. Dishes
on both the carte menu and daily
specials use the very best local
and home-grown produce.
Tunbridge Wells itself, Sankey's
Cellar Wine Bar in Mount
Ephraim (01892 511422) has become
something of a local institution.
It's a seafood restaurant, oyster
bar, cellar wine bar and pub rolled
into one, and the atmosphere is really
Brasserie at the Mount
Edgcumbe Hotel, The Common (01892
526823) offers international cuisine
in alternative settings - an authentic
8th century candlelit cave or the
more conventional Club
Edgcumbe with views across
Royal Tunbridge Wells common.
Beacon at Rusthall (01892
534288) was once the country
home of a former Lord Lieutenant
of the City of London and is
set in 16 acres of grounds. Fresh
local ingredients are used in
a menu that could feature such
diverse dishes as confit of duck
on bubble and squeak, and Thai
chicken and cashew nut curry.
Hare on Langton Green (01892
862419) is in its second incarnation,
having been rebuilt in 1901 following
a fire. It has a classic village
pub atmosphere and a menu that
is strong on fish, although one
of its best sellers is shoulder
more information on eating out
in and around Tunbridge Wells,
call the Royal Tunbridge Wells
Tourist Information Centre on 01892
further information, visit www.visittunbridgewells.com