Places To Eat In Canterbury: The Dog Inn, Wingham

I know sometimes from Instagram it may seem like I visit the same local restaurants over and over again, but I still actually have a pretty long list of new (or old that I’ve never been to) spots I really want to try. Last weeks lunch outing fell into the latter category: The Dog Inn in Wingham, somewhere my parents love and somewhere where my attempts to book a table always seem to have been foiled by something: last time I had a lunch reservation the day after the first lockdown was announced!

We started with a delicious bottle of Portuguese red to share – actually at room temperature this time, so many pubs have been giving us cold bottles of red recently – and a couple of starters. I had the burrata with carrot top pesto, deeply toasted pine nuts, lovage and pickled celeriac ribbons. It was a lovely, light, autumnal twist on the summer classic: whilst all the individual elements were a bit plain (but still tasty), enjoyed together they balanced perfectly for something bright, vibrant and wholly enjoyable.

However, I had serious order envy of the chipotle soft shell crab served with a picked crab salad, a griddled baby gem, pineapple and chilli jam, and a curry mayo. Soft shell crab can be wonderful with a rich, sweet flavour and crisp exterior by so often they just arrive greasy: not here. It had a wonderful, mouth shattering batter and a delicious interior, only enhanced by all the other delicious flavours on the plate. Get this.

The braised beef short rib – listed on the menu as the slightly more elaborate sounding Jacob’s ladder – with mashed potato, pearl onions, pancetta, mushrooms and carrot crisps must have been as good as it looks, because I did not get a look in and the whole thing was polished off rather quickly. Just look at that plateful for a chilly autumn day!

I ordered the hake fillet, perfectly cooked (and trust me, hake is not the easiest fish to get right) served with roasted baby new potatoes, samphire, avruga caviar and a crab sauce. This was a lovely fish dish I really enjoyed full of interesting flavours, though I felt the potatoes could have done with a little more salt in spite of the presence of naturally salty samphire on the plate (it grows on the coast, and if you grow it at home you have to water it with a salt solution), and the sauce, while delicious, could have done with a brightening spritz of lemon.

I think the butternut squash risotto was one of the best dishes on the menu: this vibrantly golden bowlful was served with dolcelatte for gradually melting ribbons of flavour, pumpkin seeds, roasted walnuts and crispy sage: delicious as well as beautiful. If it were not for the dolcelatte I would have ordered this, and tasting a bit from the side I was very sad I couldn’t. Again, get this.

However, whilst we enjoyed our mains, the real star of the show at The Dog was the desserts. Whoever is acting as their pastry chef I take my hat off to you. The whisky salted caramel tart served with pretty frosted pecans and a manuka honey ice cream had a wonderfully crisp pastry and a rich, indulgent, complex filling, but it was my blackberry souffle served with a scoop of pear and sauternes sorbet sitting atop a little bed of crumble that was the best thing we ate there. Such simple ingredients, perfectly executed the souffle was impossibly light, whibbly and full of bright, bursting fruit flavours. It also went stunningly with the light, zingy, just wonderful sorbet. I wish I had some of that in my freezer right now. A brilliant, wonderful dessert. Again, if it is still on when you go, get this.

The Dog sits in the middle of a patch of the Canterbury countryside with so many amazing places to eat such as The Duck Inn in Pett Bottom, The Duke William in Ickham, the next village over, and the stunning new offering at The Rose in Wickhambreaux, the village after that, but don’t let these other destinations put you off booking a table: The Dog has a lovely atmosphere, friendly staff, and is an excellent pub to go for a meal at: if it is not already on your list, it needs to be!