Places To Eat In Kent: The Beacon, Tunbridge Wells
As many of you will already know, I keep many lists of places I want to eat. There is the London list, the Los Angeles list and the Canterbury list. A little smaller than the others, there is a list of places outside of my usual bit of Kent that I know I must stop in at when I’m passing. A journey to test drive a new car and a trip to Tunbridge Wells therefore meant lunch at somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time: The Beacon.
Aside from the fact you’ll find fantastic food there, the main thing you need to know about The Beacon is the view. Unless you’re visiting on a cold, crisp winter day where you can cosy up in the dining room with a massive roast, you will otherwise feel short changed if you don’t visit on a gloriously hot and sunny day so you can sit out on the terrace, take in the stunning view and forget you’re not in the Mediterranean.
While I usually try to order English wine anyway, Chapel Down is king here as it is basically just down the road. For beer, they have their Curious Brew on tap, and an ice cold glass of Chapel Down’s Bacchus Reserve with it’s crisp elderflower notes are a must.
We kicked off with a few bar snacks. I have it on good authority that the welsh rarebit was excellent, and the ham hock croquettes were insanely good, so full of flavour they were basically mouthwatering.
For our starters I had a lovely heritage tomato salad with burrata, gremolata and pickled walnuts (beautiful and bright, though I think they were trying to do a bit too much, the gremolata – while delicious – masked some of the other more delicate flavours) and a simply incredible, melt in the mouth plate of beef carpaccio with a garlic aioli and pickled shallots. Get this.
We both chose fish for our mains. I had order envy of an imosspibly delicious and flavourful plate of hake with seaweed butter, samphire, pancetta and potatoes (I may have scraped that plate clean once it was abandoned) but that is not to say my fillet of sea trout was not perfectly cooked with an incredibly light and crunchy side of blanched broccoli, kohlrabi, celeriac, orange gel and toasted almonds.
I was the only one down for dessert so I went for the most exciting one, coconut arancini with wood fired pineapple, a pina colada sorbet and chilli jam. God it was good; interesting, and both delicate and bright at the same time. My only complaint was there was not more of the sorbet, which was impossibly good, to the point where I wish I could have just had a big bowl of it by itself. I paired my dessert with a good glass of Chapel Down’s Brut English sparkling wine.
Walking back through the beautiful bar and dining room to the car, I knew we’d found a really special spot that, if you don’t live in the area, you simply can’t miss out on when you’re passing through. Find out more about The Beacon and book a table on their website.