Places To Eat In Canterbury: The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux

Canterbury? If you’re looking for a new (well, with new owners, the place in question has been there since the 1300’s!) country pub to cosy up in by the fire with a lovely atmosphere, good wine and even better food, The Rose Inn in Wickhambreaux had a change of ownership over the summer, and after our lunch there last week I wish to wholeheartedly recommend it as the place to eat this autumn.

While there are plenty of gastropubs I adore to the point of obsession, I’ve been worried for a while that the good country, Kentish pub full of beams with a fire and dried hops hanging from the ceiling has been dying out: not so at The Rose – they’ve redone the floors and given it a good lick of paint so that it is much brighter than I remember it, but the food is all simple, understated and written up on the blackboard in front of the fireplace. No fuss here.

The wine list is short and sweet, and we picked a bottle of Tempranillo-heavy Rioja to share as it is a region and a grape we all tend to enjoy; this one was rich, but still light enough for food and oaky enough to be enjoyed by itself. This bodes well for the wine list, both to go with a food menu and as somewhere that is very much still a drinking pub.

Next, we had some bread (very good – never trust a pub or a restaurant that does bad bread) and butter, and a couple of starters. I absolutely loved my Beetroot Salad with Radichio, Goats Curd and Walnut. The beetroot was light, sweet and wonderfully marinated, and everything on the plate both looked beautiful for early autumn, and was well balanced, as in there was the right amount of everything without one flavour overpowering another.

However, I think the real star had to be my mothers Arbroath Smoked Croquettes with a frankly flawlessly executed aioli – there was just the right amount of smoked fish, unctuous bechamel and crisp coating to make these truly special, and a true example of exceptional culinary skill. From the blackboards I’ve seen posted to their Instagram some variation of this is usually on, so get this.

Moving on to our mains, I honestly am still thinking about my pork chop, served with braised chicory and a mustard sauce. Pork chops are hard, people, and I can’t fault a single step of the cooking here, with a carmalised outer, perfectly soft and just pink flesh, caramalised fat and even a light crackling, it was everything a pork chop should be. Seriously, I think it now ties for top spot of the best pork chop I’ve ever had with a frankly life changing one I had in Combourg the last summer we had the French house; and yes, I do mark my memories in food not events or locations.

The chicory was also perfectly tender with still a little bite, bitter enough to cut through the pork, but tempered by the sweet mustard sauce, the only problem with which was there was not enough of it. This was one of those dishes I’m going to be still thinking about for a long time.

My mothers Chalk Stream Trout with Celeriac ands Green Sauce was also beautiful, perfectly executed and with a plate full of balanced and contrasting flavours, another absolute winner of a dish. The only disappointment was the Beef Shin Pie; it was perfectly tasty, but it did not have the magic of the other dishes, and the meat came in a gravy that was a little thin.

We ordered both sides, the buttered greens (which I forgot to picture!) and the buttered pink fir potatoes, which were both simply and perfectly cooked. Sometimes I see sides as a waste of an order, as just filler, but not here.

The puddings were as excellent as almost everything else we ate. The Blackberry Pavlova had a wonderful cream, the blackberries had been slightly macerated to excellent effect, and my only qualm is I could have done with more fruit. We all attacked the fig tart however, served with a lovely and thick scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. crisp pastry and jammy figs came together here in a classic recipe, again, perfectly executed that did not need messing around with.

I’m very excited to add The Rose Inn to my frankly tiny selection of local pubs I’ll actually eat in often rather than review and only come back if I’m nearby, because I know I’ll always find something fantastic on the menu. Welcome to the area!