Places To Eat In Kent: The Garden Room, Port Lympne

I’ve got the first of a two part set of posts about our casual Sunday staycation down the road at Port Lympne Animal Reserve today (I was invited to review the restaurant, but I’m so glad I did – why is it you never do the things that are right next door?), this one focusing on The Garden Room, their stunning hotel restaurant that is happily now open to the public at certain times of the day. They run a fresh, bistro style lunch menu with local ingredients, as well as a more expanded dinner menu with small plates and a grill – you can also visit for afternoon tea, and Sunday roasts will be launching the next few weeks – and based off our lunch, it is something I can’t wait to go back for!

As we were settling in for the lunch menu ahead of heading out on safari, we kept things casual. While we waited for everything else to arrive we ordered some lovely and fresh focaccia which came with the classic oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping: I thought it was a lovely Kentish touch that it was rapeseed, rather than olive oil in the dish.

Seeing it on the menu, I really fancied the chef’s take on a Chicken Caesar, staring crisp bacon and a massive, juicy breaded chicken cutlet. Fresh, rich, generous it was a well executed casual dish, light enough for lunchtime but substantial enough for a proper meal – though I did also go for a side order of French Fries that went nicely with it.

J had the beef burger, unusually served on a pretzel bun. I was informed this was a good, solid option.

Toying between the good sized wine list (big enough to provide choice, but small enough that you don’t have too much trouble choosing) and the cocktail menu we ended up sharing a rather lovely bottle of Italian rose as they were sold out of the French, but actually it went wonderfully with the food which again shows that the wine list is rather well done, that you can enjoy something that was not your first choice! We stayed in Europe as J is not big on English wines, though it is worth nothing they also have a good selection of local ones on there, too.

Dessert is where I think I was most impressed: we both had the chocolate cake with yogurt parfait and salted caramel, all finished with a dusting of lime zest. It was soft, rich, light, tangy and perfectly balanced, really showing us what the kitchen can do past lunchtime classics. Now I really want to go for dinner, as well as their upcoming Sunday lunch menu (which will also come with free reserve access included with the booking!)

You can book a table here, or simply call 01303 234173.