[Biddenden, Kent] West House

We first planned to visit West House a couple of years or so back when it held a Michelin star. We didn’t make it then, as we had to cut short our trip.

Whenever we visit a new restaurant at the moment, we’re obviously interested in their Covid-secure arrangements. And we visited West House on the first day of the government’s new requirements. Restaurant serving staff are now required to wear masks. And, yes, they were. And customers are required to wear masks when not sat at their tables, say when visiting the loo. And generally, no, people weren’t. Now, it was the first day and folk may not have been aware of their new obligations. But I think restaurants also have an obligation to draw customers’ attention to what they should be doing. That had happened at the very casual place where we’d lunch that day. It wasn’t happening here. They’d quickly remind a customer that smoking wasnt permitted, so why not other regulations.

As for the food, it comes as a fixed (or almost fixed) six course small plates menu. As always with these sorts of menu, there are some courses that suit better than others. Canapes were good. There was a blue cheese & sesame biscuit and a very savoury arancini. Bread also arrived around this time – an excellent sourdough, with butter and pork dripping for slathering over it.

Pickled sardines promised much but were underwhelming. You’d hope for much more tang from the pickling but it was lacking. And an avocado cream was just a bit odd with the fish. Next up was cured duck breast – a preparation similar to, say, a prosciutto. It came with earthy beetroot and pickled blackberry. Frozen duck liver is grated over it at the table, but it adds little. My companion in life has an aversion to duck, so they offered a vegetarian alternative – a barbequed carrot. It came with goats curd and crisp onion rings. She got the better of the two plates.

Wild seabass was next up and was, by far, the best dish of the evening. Perfectly cooked, with crisp skin, it came with caramelised endive. The bitterness of the latter contrasted really well with the almost sweet flesh of the fish. A really savoury chicken sauce set it all off.

The chef must have access to many British producers of top quality pork, but opts for Spanish Iberico. The cut is “presa” – taken from the shoulder, roasted and sliced. It’s tasty, of course, and the accompaniments work – celeriac puree and a slice of pickled quince.

The first of two desserts brought a meringue, topped with mascarpone and poached blackberries. It was OK. If the first was only OK, the second was a knockout. Their take on a Bakewell tart had an exceptionally thin and crisp pastry, filled with a fig and almond mix. It’s rich and luxurious and a raspberry sorbet was perfect for contrast.

We finished with good coffee. We’d had a pleasant evening and were pleased to have had dinner here at long last, but we probably wouldn’t be in a rush to come back next time we’re in the area.

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@Harters

An exemplary restaurant review. Enjoyed the read.

Have a lovely wkend.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2