Places To Eat In Canterbury: The Parade Room at The Pound
I don’t say this lightly when I say I’ve found the most exciting new opening in Canterbury I’ve been to since I wrote my first review in my home city seven years ago. The Parade Room is the long awaited restaurant above The Pound (you know, that slightly smarter bar in an old gaol by Westgate Towers?) and while they’re now serving small plates downstairs during the day it is the set menu dinner service created by local chef Doug Sanham that you need to book in on. Smart, clever dining with a focus on local ingredients, modern techniques and totally reasonable prices? For £25.50 ahead for three quarters without having to get on the train to London? It is places like The Parade room that make me more excited to write about food in Kent, than across London (and where else do you know where you can book a feast in a prison cell?)
The menu is very simple. Six options for each course, with two courses coming in at £19.50 a head, three at £25.50. There is a great bar at the back with staff who really know their stuff and an excellent selection of both local and international spirits. Based off of their Instagram feed I really want to go back for proper cocktails, but with dinner I need to give them a massive thumbs up for a mocktail that was sophisticated and not too sweet with my meal, and did not make me miss the booze!
Complimentary, homemade bread and butter started off the meal with delicious little cheesy biscuit bites topped with a lovely romesco sauce. Then, our starters arrived. Both when it arrived (so striking) and when I tasted it I had serious order envy of Lisa‘s Slow Cooked Octopus with Tomato and Chilli Jam, Chorizo and Buttermilk. God it was good; the octopus was impossibly sweet and tender, and the balance of all of the bother flavours on the plate were both rich and comforting, and bright and exciting. If this is still on the menu next time I visit I’m ordering this, forget the rest of the menu (though, the Pressed Smoked Ham Hock, Soy Cured Egg Yolk, Gin Soaked Pineapple and Crispy Potato sounds awesome!)
However, my Heritage Tomato Terrine with Goat’s Cheese Mousse and a Basil and Olive Tapenade Crumb was also excellent with bright, fresh flavours and interesting textures. Literally my only complaint about this dish is that the tomatoes could have been brighter and riper; but then again, I was brought up on home grown tomatoes that taste radically different to what you’re used to which makes me a bit of a tomato snob!
We ordered a couple of glasses of wine to go with our mains (they have a great by the glass selection!) which were both wonderful. Lisa had the Salt Marsh Lamb Rump and Cured Lamb Breast with Aubergine and Apricot. While her starter was good, this main was really special and part of why I’m so excited about The Parade Room. Perfectly cooked local meat served in a couple of different ways in the same dish is nothing new in Canterbury (hello The Good’s Shed, RIP Deeson’s) but pairing them with different, interesting, and oh so perfect flavour pairings is. Every single last detail of this dish was so well thought out.
The same could also be said for my Stour Valley Pigeon served with Prosciutto, Cornbread and a Spicy Succotash. I was charmed by the idea of a very English, very local game being served with seasonal, All American fixings and the dish was light, bright (especially thanks to the beautifully cooked corn) and interesting; pigeon should not be relegated to breast salads or autumn / winter-style dishes. Again, I literally have only one note on this dish and that is the cornbread could have been moister!
For dessert we both shared the Pistachio Sponge with Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Sorbet (which was lovely and as expected – the bright, fresh raspberry sorbet really the star of the show) and the Rum Baba served with a Coconut and Lime Moussed and Gin Soaked, Barbecue Pineapple which was a revelation. This dessert was actually vegan; and it was also a vegan dessert I actually enjoyed! I’m not saying that it would not have been better made with dairy, but it was lovely, light and as I said, that pineapple was an utter winner.
While we were not after coffee (we has an 8:30pm reservation, and it was past 11pm once we left!) we were still given a few sweets to finish our meal; homemade, toasted marshmallows which were beautifully light, and truffles with creamy white chocolate centres. A little plate of deconstructed s’more if you will, without the awful crackers (I have a thing against traditional American Graham Crackers!)
Book dinner at The Parade Room, and tell your friends. I know so many people see The Pound as ‘just a bar’, and worse ‘just a nightclub’ (it is not, and comparing it to somewhere like Club Chemistry is just insulting!) so let them know that actually it is a place to go for fantastic food in the heart of the city.