Places To Eat In Canterbury: Wild Goose
Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working on a profile of The Goods Shed in Canterbury for my old school magazine. I’ve been taking photographs, getting to know the fascinating history of the building with its owner, and as a happy by-product of the amount of time I’ve been spending there I have found my new favourite place to eat in Canterbury: Wild Goose. Serving up cocktails made using local ingredients, good wine and delicious seasonal small plates from their tiny bar and even smaller kitchen they’re tucked away in the corner in the shadow of the upstairs restaurant, but need shouting about to anyone who will listen.
There are no bookings and they’re alway quite busy, so if you want to guarantee you’ll be able to eat arrive early for lunch just before 12pm (they do tea and cake in the mornings and afternoons) or later – I’ve once managed to get a single seat on a Saturday lunchtime, but two of us were about to happily plan our trip dining at 2:30pm before I got back on my train to London. But remember, for dinner you’ll battle with the cocktail crowd fancying a little something before they go to eat upstairs or elsewhere, too.
Our plates came as they were ready, so we started with the tempura vegetables served with a sorrel mayonnaise. Tempura aubergine needs to be got right so it is not just mouthful after mouthful of oil, and this one was perfect, tender and unctuous, really showing off the rich, herbal flavours of the mayo. However, the star for me were the big shards of tempura cavolo nero. I’d not thought of giving it this treatment before and it ended up crisp, snappy, and perfect to nibble on.
Next up came this beauty of a dish, roast shallot with goats curd on charred toast with fresh mint and honey. Wow, the flavours in this. You’ve got the perfect balance of everything here, from the cold curd to the warm toast and the hot shallots, to the creaminess, sweetness, herby-ness, pungency and earthy-ness. Best balanced dish I’ve had in ages, and one you need to order if it is still on the seasonal menu when you visit.
However, the utter star of the show for me at the moment (which I’ve had twice already in a fortnight) is the chicken served with burnt orange, cavolo nero and flaked almonds. So simple, and such perfect flavours where every last little detail has been thought of; I watched the chef make it on my first solo visit for this plate and the pan (after the chicken has been finished and burnished with the orange in the pan, and the greens just cooked) is deglazed in triple sec not any other wine, to give the jus a glorious citrus hit. I’m not even going to hesitate when I put this up with ‘Crispy Sticky Crunchy’ at Bala Baya in Southwark and the raw langostines with oyster leaf and sea lettuce at Bao in Fitzrovia as one of the best dishes in the country right now.
Desserts rotate even more often than the menu so just go for what looks or sounds good if you fancy something sweet after your meal/ with your morning coffee/ afternoon glass of wine sitting up at the counter. I’ve had the chocolate torte served with a quenelle of creme fraiche which was a good shout (get this one with coffee if they have it) but this was utterly surpassed by the chocolate orange bread pudding we were served in a pool of cool cream. So indulgent, but so perfect.
Do visit Wild Goose, but also be sure to check out my review of The Goods Shed upstairs where you’re also guaranteed to have a fantastic meal. Also, while it is amazing that there are now so many great places to eat in Canterbury, lots of chains have appeared, so do take the time to check out a few other of my favourite city centre independents: Tamago, The Naughty Egg, Pork & Co., Deeson’s, Zeus, The Ambrette, KITCH and Kyoto.