Places To Eat In Canterbury: Deakins
In London, I’ve realised I don’t really go ‘shopping’. Okay, so occasionally if something specific is needed but choices need narrowing down a hellish trip to Westfield will be embarked upon, but mostly for things that are not groceries things tend to be picked up all over, a White Company diffuser for the bathroom after lunch in Covent Garden here, a cashmere jumper in the Jigsaw sale on the way down Piccadilly there. But when I’m in Canterbury, shopping trips happen. Typically they’re a mother daughter affair, we each have a couple of things to get on the list (but lots of browsing still happens too) and more recently as I’m no longer living at home and our trips are always a treat these days, a pre-shopping breakfast or mid-shopping lunch is key.
In fact, it has been since I moved back to London and we started always making sure to do lunch when I’m down that this became prime real estate for reviewing the best new (and the best old I never got around to) places to eat in the city. We’ve had crispy, sourdough pizzas at Chapter, delicious, eggy sandwiches and crispy aromatic duck loaded sweet potato fries at The Naughty Egg, and delicious, delicate small plates at Wild Goose in The Goods Shed. Oh, and don’t let me forget the time I tried to teach my Mum to eat Korean rice bowls with chopsticks at Kyoto! The last time I was down and she agreed to accompany photographing all of my favourite independent shops in Canterbury (I needed an interpreter – I was recovering from the flu and there was a chance I needed someone to explain what I was up to in case I broke down in a coughing fit – it happened!) we tried a light lunch at Canterbury’s newest, casual everyday eatery: Deakins. Owned by the same group who also just opened Chapter, it’s named after the shoe shop that used to be on the same site, before it closed and was given over to it’s last occupant, a popular but decidedly average European joint.
After skimming the sandwiches (we were not really in the mood for something heavier – for example, we were drinking Elderflower and sparkling water, though we both usually love a good glass of wine) so we went for two starters/ small plates to share, a salad and a dessert. First we had the calamari with an aioli dip. This was excellent; perfectly tender and crisp and not at all oily, just with a little kick from the chilli and paprika.
Next we had the chicken liver pate with toasted brioche and red onion chutney. This again was excellent; wonderfully creamy, with a nice tang from the onion and I think more places should start serving their chicken liver somethings with brioche. But, as with everywhere I order this, my only complaint is the same complaint; there was not enough bread provided for the piece of pate served!
The disappointment on the table was the Quinoa Salad with Rocket, Tomatoes and Mozzarella. A good idea, but not executed as well as it could have been. The tomatoes could have been riper. The bites where you got a bit of everything were nice, but once the tomato and mozzarella were gone, we ended up dressing the quinoa with a squeeze of the lemon we had leftover from our calamari. When we got to the bottom of the dish, it was inedible. Now, I know mini cast iron skillets look pretty for presentation, but here is the problem in restaurants; because of food safety, you can’t properly season them, and as a result if you’re serving a cold salad that is prone to absorb moisture like quinoa, the quinoa touching it, as well as the dressing will absorb the metallic flavour of the cast iron. Are you following me? This salad would have been better serve in a bowl!
The pudding was simple, retro, and totally delicious. We shared a warm chocolate pudding with a wonderfully gooey, melty centre, with a scoop of perfect salted caramel ice cream and some strawberries on the side. Okay, so Deakins is not the place to go for new, modern cuisine; when they do try to use an up to date flavour like quinoa, they don’t quite carry it off. However, this is a lovely lunch spot overlooking the King’s Mile with some strong dishes (that calamari is a must order) and their bar and cocktail menu look great for an evening. Don’t be surprised if you find me there one summer evening with a Bellini and a mountain of battered squid!