You've seen it so many times on my Instagram as one of my favourite places to eat in Canterbury so many times. It's renowned in Kent and beyond for the fantastic food and market, and last month it even got a glowing review in the usually London review-centric Telegraph: today I want to show you around and take you for lunch at The Good's Shed. It is actually right next to Canterbury West station, 55 minutes on the train from St Pancras, so the perfect place to visit if you fancy escaping the big smoke at the weekend.
The Goods Shed is essentially an old railway shed which opened up as an all week indoor farmers market for Canterbury, filled with local produce and with a fantastic restaurant at the top. Recently more and more different eateries have been opening downstairs (the original restaurant is up on the mezzanine); it really has become a proper local food hub for local people, as well as a pretty famous foodie destination for travellers.
As well as a good selection of fresh produce, meat, bread and fish The Goods Shed has a great store cupboard section full of international deli items and products, and two fantastic drinks merchants. You can buy lots of fun and different IPA either in bottles, cans or to drink there whatever they happen to have on draft at the time; most of it is British, and a lot of it is actually from Kent. As for wine, there is a fantastic selection of curated international vintages on sale, but again the collection is heavy on good English vineyards, again many of which are in Kent. What can I say? We're a county of produce!
I've not really tried many of the downstairs offerings (I like upstairs too much, more on that in a moment!) but I feel that I need to rectify that soon; the sausage rolls and quiches served with small plate side salads at Whitstable Larder look delicious every time I'm in there at a lunch time. I can mini review Wild Goose's cocktails for you though (I have not sampled the small places yet) as we stopped at the bar for a few of them before heading up for my birthday dinner last weekend. They have some really imaginative combinations and I hope that they do really well (we don't really have cocktail bars that are not always overpopulated with students in Canterbury), but at the moment I think they're trying a bit too hard; putting too many flavours in one drink and going a bit heavy with the spices. I had one with a bit too much clove!
So, upstairs we have Rafael's Restaurant, one of my all time favourite places to eat in Canterbury and my go to for a celebration meal. They cook local, seasonal produce, the majority of which comes from the market downstairs, which means that the menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner change at least once a day. The portions are generous, and the wine list also has some great Kentish numbers on it; on my birthday we shared a delicious bottle of white Chapel Down. However, I'm usually driving when I visit, so I spend a lot of time enjoying their freshly squeezed juices. You can make your own combo, but above I can recommend the pear, mint and lime. It looks a little herby, but I promise you that it is actually delicious!
On Friday I met up with Sally, another long time fan of The Goods Shed for a quick spot of lunch. While you can easily fill yourself up at any mealtime with a delicious selection of starters (from my Instagram: Crab, Egg & Saffron Aioli Toasts and Scallops with Crispy Bacon & Chickpea Puree), we decided just to hop straight to the mains for a lighter lunch. Sally's mushroom cigars with celeriac were delicious and much enjoyed, but it was on my Wood Pigeon breasts, Black Pudding and Forced Rhubarb that tastebuds really went to town. The game was full of flavour and still pink in the middle, the rhubarb cut through everything perfectly, and the blood pudding was ludicrously sweet and meaty. I've been a dedicated fan of The Good Sheds black pudding; if you're usually a fan and you see it as part of a dish, order that!
For dessert we shared the dessert platter, which I must say was a very, very good call. Usually I order whatever comes with the bay leaf ice cream (seriously, it is amazing), but as it was not on the menu that day I had to go freestyle! The dinky little mini coffee creme brûlée was lovely, as was this lovely citrus and almond torte, but my two personal favourites were the pear mess (such a clever flavour combination) and the ludicrously rich and light chocolate mousse, sitting on a slab of homemade honeycomb. What more could you possibly want?
The Goods Shed is open from 9am to 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, and open from 10am to 4pm on Sundays. If you're looking to visit Rafael's Restaurant I'd seriously recommend you book; I can't actually remember a time when it was possible to get a table without! In other news, if any of you outside of London have something like The Goods Shed near you, I'd love to hear about it so I can stop by during future travels!