Places To Eat In Canterbury: herd.
If you’re in the mood for a steak (as well as a couple of other delicious morsels on the side) can I please recommend brand new Canterbury steakhouse herd.? It had been on my radar since it opened, tucked away at the end of the High Street at the start of the summer thanks to the mouthwatering pictures Head Chef Darryl Quested kept posting on Instagram from the kitchen, and now I’ve finally tried their steakhouse classics with seasonal ingredients and just a hint of Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, I’m here to tell you it needs to climb to the top of your ‘to eat’ list.
Yes I know we’re here to talk about the steaks, not to mention the rest of the food, but a special mention does need to go to the drinks at herd.: there is a bar area at the front of the restaurant, after all, so if you’re going for dinner do arrive a bit early for a cocktail or two – I certainly will be the next time I visit as the list looked excellent. Driving, we ordered by the glass, and as 2/3 of us were having steak we had a beautiful Argentinian Malbec (bold and full bodied) but I was really pleased to see an extensive and eclectic page of local English wines available to order.
Having a niggling suspicion that we’d be utterly stuffed by the end of the meal we forwent bread (though they do have cruffins) and skipped straight to the starters. Beautifully presented, I enjoyed my bite of the Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib Croquettes served with a lovely herb emulsion and zingy pickled shallots, but I think the real star of the show were the Grilled Josper Prawns. Fat, juicy, smoky, and perfectly cooked with an unusual miso and mint butter, plenty of pomegranate (both seeds and molasses) and sea herbs. If possible, it tasted better than it looked.
Stepping away from the pretty dishes, if you want to go full on autumn with your menu choices, can I point you in the direction of the fried mushroom, sitting on a light, airy bed of whipped caramalised cauliflower puree, and scattered with furikake? Meaty, hearty, my Hen of the Woods was the ultimate celebration of vegetables.
Shall we get to the steak? herd.’s menu has a range of different meats and cuts, ranging for all tastes and budgets from a 225g Irish grass-fed rump steak (£16) to a 250g chocolate-fed (yes really) Irish wagu (£69). We both ordered the Irish grass-fed rump steaks, done medium rare and rare, and both were perfectly cooked. Such a beautiful piece of meat, I think honestly it was one of the best British steakhouse steaks I’ve ever had. Canterbury? You’re lucky to have taken on such a (for now, at least) hidden gem.
Careful, I warn you, you will go overboard on the sides, but before I run you through what we had, I need to mention the sauces, because every good steakhouse steak needs good sauces: the peppercorn was tasty, punchy and classic, and I was over the moon with herd.’s rendition of my favourite béarnaise: rich, creamy, dippy, and heavy with tarragon.
Anyway, those sides. On the potato front, I think the parmesan truffle fries at herd. is one of their most impressive dishes, because when was the last time you ordered parmesan fries when either all the cheese and flavour was just draped over the top (guilty as charged), or it fell off the fries? Well at herd. the coating is savoury, aromatic, addictive, and most importantly, CLINGS TO THE FRIES. Beautiful. But, you’ll also be in with a good shout if you get the beef fat hassleback potatoes with smoked sour cream and chives. Okay, so I could not tell where the beef fat came in, and they felt like the hassleback was simply sliced into boiled potatoes without any crispiness to them, but that sour cream topping was stunning, and well worth ordering them for it alone.
We felt like we needed some veg, so we had the charred and roasted hispi cabbage tossed with a delicious ginger butter and toasted pine nuts. So, so buttery and delicious, my only criticism was how it was served, which was not a herd. problem, but an every hispi cabbage dish I’ve ever ordered problem: yes roasting it whole provides the best flavour, but can you please then cut it up with a sharp chefs knife before it is sent out, because it is almost impossible to cut smartly, even with a steak knife at the table?
I know I’ve been going on about how brilliant the steaks were, but actually they were not my favourite main dish on the table. herd. is one of those rare restaurants that is supposed to be all about the meat, but which you can happily take non-meat eating friends, and where you’ll also become rather jealous of what they’re eating instead.
The herb risotto is at the moment topped with roasted winter squash, kale chips and a pumpkin seed pesto. Not only did it look pretty on the plate, but it was both fresh and rich, vibrant, and perfectly cooked. So, so good.
We all chose the same dessert: sticky toffee pudding with a smokey bourbon caramel we could smell wafting as it was made out of the open kitchen, and a rich, creamy scoop of honeycomb ice cream. Perfect, simple and good, our only criticism was it’s size – if you’ve had a starter, and steaks and sides, perhaps share one between two? Oh, and if you’re not driving and fancy some bubbles, the Cava at herd. is also excellent.
You can book a table at herd. here. Honestly, especially for a special occasion or date night I don’t think you’ll regret it!