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September Menus… Hari’s Favourites

UPDATE…

WE STILL HAVE SPACES ON ALL NIGHTS… Please spread the word…

Well we are back home and all is looking good. We have decided to do four nights in September over two weekends this month as it has been over nine months since we did dinners in our own home and we have something rather different now. We have decided to do a simple choice set menu on each weekend that will give diners a chance to sample some of our favourite dishes. On September 5th and 6th the Menu will be as follows. Choice can be made on the night which is something new for us!

Arrival 7:30pm Dinner served at 8:00pm

Gravad Lax with a Sweet German Mustard Sauce 

Onion & Goats Cheese Tart with a Salad Leaf Garnish

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Spicy Moroccan Lamb Tajine with Cous Cous

Smoked Cod Fish Cakes, Wilted Spinach and a Lemon Butter Sauce

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Chocolate “Nutella” Torte with a Red Berry Compote

Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Suggested Donation £30 per person (service not included)


 

September 19th and 20th the menu will be as follows:-

 

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Pork & Apricot Terrine with Rocket & Pine Nut  Salad

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Poached Chicken Breast with Spinach, Feta & Sun dried Tomato Stuffing, Herb Butter Sauce. Lemon Bulgar Wheat

Roasted Salmon Fillet with Chorizo, Green Beans & New Potatoes

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Flourless Orange & Hazelnut Torte with Marmalade Cream

Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Suggested Donation £30 per person (service not included)

NB: All Menus Subject to

Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability

Please complete the booking form below to secure your places. Please note we will normally contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm your booking.

 

Apple Homage…our October dinners

Well as Autumn fast approaches this months dinner will focus on the humble apple as a key ingredient at each course.

We will kick the meal off with a glass of Kir Normande… A glass of chilled cider with the addition of creme de cassis and some seasonal apple themed nibbles!

The first course will be a homemade brawn of Kentish Apples, Cooked Potatoes and Smoked Haddock set in an Apple Jelly. We will serve this with a light horseradish cream and some crisp melba toasts. It will be a light start to what will be a fairly hefty dinner.

Next will be a slowly braised pork cheek, cooked in apple juice the tart and slightly sweet flavour helps cut into the richness of the meat and we will serve this alongside a slow cooked and crispy piece of pork belly. We will serve some roasted apple to cut the richness of both meats and the mustard grain creamed potatoes and our ubiquitous serving of green beans will complete the main course.

We will then serve a couple of our favourite cheeses – namely the local cheddar from Winterdale Shaw plus a personal favourite the Stichleton, this is the blue veined cheese from Nottinghamshire made in the traditional way of Stilton from unpasteurised milk. All served with our porridge oat biscuits and our home-made Banana Jam, plus of course some fresh crisp apple as well!

Finally we will serve a Apple, Pine Nut and Cinnamon Torte with a garnish of Salted Caramel sauce and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. We will also serve a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes with this as we will have restocked our cellars of our local French wine!

To complete the dinner we will then serve either coffee or tea with an appropriate petit four. I will have the week before the dinners also been down in Spain (Girona) attending the opening of “master chocolatier” Damian Allsop’s new chocolate restaurant and shop so might have imported some special goodies! You will all have to wait and see!

We request a suggested donation of £35 per person (service not included) Guests requested to arrive at 7:30pm with dinner served at 8:00pm promptly.

Dates: Friday 10th (Breakfast Friends – Exclusive Night) & Saturday 11th October 2014 – Now Fully Booked


“Apple Homage”

Welcome Drink served with Seasonal Canapé’s

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Kentish Apple, Potato & Smoked Haddock Brawn

Horseradish Cream & Melba Toast

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Apple Juice Braised Pork Cheeks & Crispy Roasted Pork Belly

Roasted Apples, Grain Mustard Creamed Potatoes

Green Beans

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Winterdale Shaw Cheddar Cheese & Stichleton

Hari’s Porridge Oat Biscuits & Homemade Banana Jam

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Apple, Pine Nut & Cinnamon Torte served with Salted Caramel Sauce

and Vanilla Ice Cream

Served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

N.B. Menu Subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability 

To book please complete the form below or click this Breakfast Friends link for their exclusive Friday night.

 

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Consistency Rules…

I could not resist a quick stop off on a recent return trip from the depths of south west London before a I hit the M25.

I wanted to check out a chain of Fish & Chip shops that I can lay claim to discovering possibly some thirty years ago when I was working for that doyen of critics Egon Ronay. I did all seven inspections visits of them in two days!!!

“Superfish” are a chain of Fish & Chip Takeaways with licensed restaurant seating  alongside them. When I discovered them 30 years ago they were ground breaking with their modern clean decor, freshly cooked Fish & Chips served with hot French Bread & Butter. It was the brainchild of owner Michael Rhodes, still at the helm and certainly not your normal greasy spoon.

They were different in the South East for a number of reasons. Firstly they fry in dripping the Yorkshire way. They also trained the shop managers to be the only people to fry the fish to ensure a consistent standard. Staff were also well trained to provide a friendly and smiling service to both takeaway and eat in customers.

I have fond memories of making a round trip of some 70 miles to eat their food with a bunch of Swiss visitors who craved the real deal of Fish & Chips. At that time decent local Fish & Chips to me did not exist but I am glad to say this has been rectified now!

I am glad to report the branch I stopped at in Ewell was still as good as ever if a shade dated in decor it made up for it with the friendly welcome and superlative Cod & Chips. It comes in three sizes, Small, Large or Moby Dick. ( I resisted the latter)

It was crisp light batter and for summer potatoes (New Crop) great crisp chips with fluffy potato innards. The fish was perfectly cooked soft and succulent, piping hot and really hit the spot!

It was good to see that after all these years this chain is still going strong and I do believe they have spurned many an operator including another of my favourites Chez Fred in Westbourne Nr Bournemouth. So I guess if ever you are in the depths of Surrey with hunger pains then head straight to Superfish and tell them the man from Egon Ronay sent you as consistency really does rule!

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More tea vicar…

Well following our disappointment with the Bell Inn at Ticehurst the next day was as I previously described was the difference between “Chalk and Cheese”

The day started with my Swiss friends managing firstly at getting lost with their Sat Nav and arriving somewhat late for a hastily arranged private tea tasting… It was one of my friends who is something of a tea fanatic and I thought what could be more unique than arrange a private tea tasting courtesy of master tea blender Alex Probyn of Shoreham based tea company Blends for Friends.

Alex has grown his business at a phenomenal rate over the last few years and what intially was a tea blending for individual customers is now by something of a monolithic giant in bespoke tea companies. He blends brews for clients around the globe from 5 star hotels to even other tea companies.

We arrived late but Alex warmly greeted us all and we got stuck into a quick (by Alex’s standards) tutorial on the differing types of tea.

Well a good hour later after a tutored tasting and a very informative tour of his set up we left with some great tea blends and more importantly I left with a supply of specially blended tea ready for the Vicars Picnic scheduled for August 30th in Yalding!

The Vicars Picnic Blend is a mix of three teas… Indian Assam, Sri Lankan Dimbula and a Chinese Yunnan… it is a fruity flavour in the style of an English Breakfast Tea that will go well with the planned scones, jam and clotted cream!

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The “Vicars Picnic” Tea Blend

The tea will be also on sale in retail packs to take home as well so you can have a lasting memory of the day!

Pickering’s Choice… Saturday 19th July

Chef Peter PickeringWe have decided for our first official dinner in our restored home to host a special dinner on Saturday 19th July. (if demand sufficient then we will also do Friday 18th July)

We have invited a guest chef to launch our new venue and we will be joined by Peter Pickering a 27 year old chef who is a young lad to watch. I have known Peter since 2009 when I was appointed his mentor at Oxford Brookes University in his final year of study before he graduated in May 2010.

He has since gone on to work in some prestigious places from the 5 star Milestone Hotel in London to the Broadcasting Centre for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to the opening of “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal” with Ashley Palmer Watts, The Café Royal relaunch in late 2012  and then more recently the Chiltern Firehouse the new André Balazs Hotel in late 2013 working alongside Chef Nuno Mendes. A truly impressive pedigree.

I have asked Peter to put together a menu to relaunch the new Hari venue and we will be hosting a five course menu that will reflect his experiences in some pretty amazing restaurants. I will be acting as his commis chef and it will be as much a learning experience for me with modern techniques and imaginative flavour combinations! Very exciting!

Peter’s menu will be as follows:

Menu

Grilled little gem salad, Nuns of Caen, marinated button mushrooms, soy and sherry dressing

*****

Seared Cornish mackerel, poached rhubarb, pickled shallots, borage

*****

Cotswold white chicken, confit heart, onion and horseradish, spring greens

*****

Chocolate mousse, passion fruit jelly, milk and lemon thyme

*****

Hari’s Selection of Farmhouse Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Coffee with Homemade Shortbread

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Arrival 7:30pm – Welcome Drink & Canapés

Dinner 8:00pm – prompt

Suggested Donation £50 person – service not included

If you wish to attend then please complete the following booking form. It will be a single table seating 14 persons in total and we will be allocating places on a first come first served basis.

We look forward to seeing what we hope will be some new and old customers!

Not ringing my bell…

The Bell Inn – Ticehurst – Well I had a quick lunch here a couple of weeks ago with Mrs HC as we wanted a place close to a B&B that some friends visiting us were staying in. We only had some light bites but were quite impressed so we booked a table for dinner on this basis.

So the appointed day arrived and we rendezvoused with them for a pre dinner drinks while we perused the menu. The place had guests but was certainly in no way rammed with diners but service was a little slow and on reflection a little more formal than it had been for the lunch we had consumed.

Starters chosen ranged from a Spinach Soup that had a good vibrant colour and came garnished with supposedly soft poached egg in it (the egg alas was over cooked) A salad of smoked duck was also a bit of a disappointment. Some thin slices of duck were buried under a large mound of salad and for the price charged I felt all a bit of a rip off! My crab salad was ok with some nice fresh white crab meat and then topped with some mayonnaise and a mound of slaw – all pretty basic and at nearly £9 not mind blowing in culinary terms just the price.

Our main course choices ranged from a Fillet Steak listed on the menu as “Cow” that caused much confusion with the foreign contingent of the party who were not familiar with the terminology. Two had the Cod dish that was well executed and my choice was a confit pork belly that to put it mildly was awful. I was in an awkward situation in that to complain would have been a bit churlish as the friends were likely to be picking up the tab (not that I was expecting them to) and it could have put a dampener on the evening. My pork belly was so undercooked and tough to eat. It was just poorly executed but I persevered. It could have been so much better.

Finally we decided on a couple of cheese plates and one of the party had a dessert “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate” It was OK but again nothing spectacular. The cheeses were alas fridge cold a good Kentish Blue a Lincolnshire Poacher Cheddar (Why not the more local Winterdale Shaw?) and a soft unnamed one by the staff that was ripe but for me a shade too mild tasting. An over acidic chutney and some good biscuits.

It was in no way mind blowing and staff were to put it mildly a touch patronising in the way they served us. I certainly felt less comfortable and overall thought the food had a pretension to it in comparison to what we were served for lunch and was all just a big disappointment. It certainly has not made me think I want to rush back and when I compare it to where we then ate the next night it could be described as chalk and cheese. More on that in my next post!

All about the service and the food… some reviews…

Well we are now just a few weeks away from the summer solstice – it has been nearly six months since our home was badly flooded and we had to evacuate. It has been a stressful time as we have battled with inefficient and frustrating processes conducted by loss adjusters and the insurance company, plus a rogue builder has meant we have yet still to move back home.

We have held a few private dinners and we have also conducted a couple of dinners in homes loaned to us for the purpose.

We have also used the time to go and try a few places to eat and thought as opposed to one review we thought we would lump them all together and give you a taster to perhaps try them yourself…there have been some real gems!

Alimo – Whitstable –  Tel 01227 272725

Well I had a very enjoyable lunch here with the imitable Jules Serkin who is the host of the Scoff&Quaff weekly Internet radio show. She has some amazing contacts and is a bubbly (Prosecco induced) lady to lunch with. With tales of her new husband and such like one can say lunch was certainly not boring. Alimo is a bit of a gem and I will have to go back. Located under a railway arch on the way into Whitstable from the Thanet way it has a vaulted ceiling and slightly themed Middle Eastern decor to transport your to the Kasbah or desert tent!

Alimo

I was impressed by the food we consumed as there were some sound cooking and authentic flavours – everything from some well flavoured lamb koftas in a mildly spiced tomato sauce to a zingy fresh Quinoa Salad and some tasty if a tad slightly overcooked (and sinewy) Lambs Liver with an almond sauce and creamy chick pea and potato mash. It was the manager Andy who served us and he was a great example of professionalism matched with great social skills and I guess contributed massively to the whole experience.

It is a place I am now keen to go back and sample yet again perhaps for dinner

Jo Jo’s – Whitstable  – Tel :01227 274591

photo (180)I am a big fan of this place and found myself eating here once again when celebrating my birthday. It is a gem of a place serving some great food that is well designed to share with family or friends. We had everything from the sharing platter of meats and assorted dips to the goujons of fresh fish to some amazing monkfish cheeks in a light beer batter to finally a massive meringue topped with a fruit compote or a salted caramel and brownie coupe that we enjoyed immensely and required us to take a brisk walk afterwards to try and aid the digestive system. If you have never been I implore you to try the place. It is so worth it!

Bills – Tunbridge Wells -Tel: 01892 548699

Me and the Mrs had been having a bad day with all our house woes and needed cheering up and we found ourselves in central Tunbridge Wells outside the newly opened Bills. It took over the site of Dame Tartine that had been a popular place and used weekly as the venue for a twitter gathering called Twuttle. photo (174)

We entered a pretty busy and crowded establishment and were shown to our table swiftly and politely and then a young waitress took our order and duly went about her business. We tucked into some Deep Fried Squid rings, tender and crisp, a pot of honey glazed sausages and some goujons of fish that were a little dry and tasteless. It was however the desserts we tucked into that provided a memorable finish. A lemon meringue coupe and a giant chocolate Jaffa cake that was very rich but scrummy.

The Vine – Sevenoaks –  Tel: 01732 469510

This former pub on the northern approaches to the town has undergone a great deal of “TLC” and beautification and is now something that could be described as a swanky place for the residents of Sevenoaks. I know the chef well here and have followed his career over the past few years from a new gaff on the outskirts of Maidstone to a gastro pub in central London. He is a Glaswegian that has spent most of his working life in the south but has not lost his accent one little bit, he can also cook some pretty amazing food as well.

I was eating here for a couple of reasons but what struck me was the simplicity of blending a cheap cut or inexpensive ingredient with something luxurious. It shows clever and photo (175)diligent purchasing matched to a creative eye of detail.

We kicked off with a black pudding scotch egg with a gorgeous soft unctuous egg yolk and then some fresh local asparagus topped with a crispy fried poached egg and some fresh morel mushrooms – a truly mouth-watering combination. It reminded me of a dish that I used to cook in Switzerland many years ago. Slowly poached calves tongue that was then thinly sliced and served with a brandy and morel cream sauce with a finely shredded vegetable garnish.

Next was a slow cooked pork belly and pork cheek served with an apple puree, boulangere potatoes and my dining guest tucked into a pan fried fillet of sea bream with a masterful potato puree charred leeks and truffle sauce. We ordered an extra of some truffled mash that just reeked of the fungus and we were told the peelings and nubs are used in this to ensure nothing is wasted, gosh it was so good…

A couple of desserts then followed and we were done – the Strawberry Parfait was a total triumph as a yet to be added to the menu and as I dropped my guest back at the station I felt we had consumed a very well executed and clever lunch. It will be another place I urge you add to the list to try.

Crabshakk, Glasgow  – Tel: 0141 334 6127

A few days after my visit to Sevenoaks I found myself some four hundred plus miles away from there in the centre of Glasgow. It was to be a fleeting visit with Mrs HC and teenage daughter who was off to see her idol Katy Perry in concert. I was to meet with an old friend who I had not seen for some twenty years and we headed off to the West End of Glasgow to have dinner together.

I had originally planned to go out for dinner with him at a swanky Asian restaurant as we both love this style of food but for reasons I kept from him had to change to this place. He initially said to me are you sure you want to go here as like myself I had looked at the menu and thought it was all pretty basic and not really selling itself to me via their web site or for that matter by the reviews on Trip Advisor.????????????????????????

Well a lesson to learn from this is never judge a place before you try it yourself. We arrived at the appointed time and were pleasantly surprised to be warmly greeted and shown to our table in the upstairs section of this minute and buzzy place. It’s simple decor and cramped tables all add to the flavour… clever use of every available square inch is made.

Service was slick, friendly and informed and we tucked into some stunning food. A specials blackboard boasted two of my most favourite seafood, Razor Clams and John Dory which had to be consumed and as we reminisced over lost friendships and past good times we became more and more contented with our enforced change of venue.

?????????It is a gem of a place where the seafood is so fresh and correctly handled with simplistic preparation and garnishing. The razors clams served with surf clams and a chorizo butter sauce were to die for and the John Dory well that cam e served with a celeriac puree and some puy lentils that provided an earthy dimension to the sweet flavour of the fish. Well worth the 800mile plus round trip!

A simple Panna Cotta with minimal garnish and a cheese board with ripe cheeses well explained by a bubbly pair of waitresses completed a truly magnificent meal.

So if you should ever find yourself in the region this place is a must… just make sure you book it as it is popular and do not believe all that is written about it – except by me!

Terroirs, London  – Tel: 0207 036 0660

This place is one of may favourites and located just a stones throw from Charing Cross station it provides a perfect watering hole should you need sustenance before jumping on a train to Kent! I chose this venue to have dinner with some Swiss friends visiting the UK for their summer holiday. Having done the tourist bit with them – a wander round Borough Market and then a cruise up the river and a wander round Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens we needed sustenance.photo (177)

I chose this place as a venue for it’s simple no fussy and informal atmosphere and as the friends are also appreciative of some good wines I felt this would fit the bill and it did so in so many ways.

It was not too busy when we arrived (they had emptied from the pre theatre crowd) but it soon filled and got busier. It has a bar counter with seats and closely packed tables and an open to view kitchen area allows you to see the chefs beavering away.

photo (176)We settled down to some competent and well judged cooking, A duck rillette with toasted sour dough was as usual a real triumph, a smoked duck breast and green bean salad with a soft boiled egg was also a light fresh starter but for me the best was yet to come. Grilled bone Marrow with a parsley and caper salad was as one of Swiss friends remarked as good as eating fresh foie gras and now is converted to a dish they were sceptical of trying. The main courses we consumed were boiled salt beef Pot au Feu a great classic that was comfort food at it’s best and a Sea Bream fillet served on a bed of samphire with Jersey Royals and a great saffron infused rouille sauce.

A great bottle of a biodynamic red wine from Italy was a real enjoyment and as I bid my friends fare well and jumped on a train to Kent they headed back to their hotel before setting off next morning to tour the west country.

Years ago we were hard pushed to recommend places to eat – now spoilt for choice it makes deciding where to eat a tough one – they have had a fantastic tour and we meet again in a few days for a couple of days before they head back home. I am confident they will go home still in love with what the UK has to offer!

The Kentish Hare, Bidborough – Tel: 01892 525709

photo (178)This place opened about 4 weeks ago and so is still finding its feet – I had heard mixed reviews on the place operated by a couple of celebrity chefs. James & Chris Tanner both local lads had worked in assorted places before heading west to Plymouth. They have now been tasked to turn this pub atop the Bidborough ridge into a food destination and asset to the village.

Well my visit was certainly whilst a fleeting one was impressive with some assured cooking and I have to say it was good to see the place was pretty busy for a Thursday lunchtime and whilst the clientele were predominately of a more senior nature the young staff still finding their feet seemed to be doing a good job. I will return and perhaps give it a more in depth test. The chicken liver parfait consumed was smooth buttery and generous portion size with its own little mini fresh white loaf. The Smoked Mackerel salad with salad leaves and toasted croutons was a good light starter

Main dishes of Skate Wing with sautéed jersey royals and green beans and the Duck photo (179)Confit with salad leaves were enjoyable and well executed. The cheese selection we then shared a good test to see how serious they are was I have to say a shade disappointing. The Kentish Blue the only local cheese and was the best served. A cheddar was OK but an unripe and nondescript Brie was a let down, good presentation with crackers and a piece of membrillo

A couple of small local Tonbridge brewed beers and the bill for just over £60 was fair for the offer but I suspect the extras and more alcohol could rack up the bill a good deal more. It has a great garden area to the rear and the decor within is airy light and due to hard surfaces a bit noisy when full but there are some nooks and crannies where you could hide yourself away for a more peaceful time. I will be back!

So there will be more revues soon plus we will be announcing dates for Hari dinners as well so watch this space!

Happy Eating

Hari C

 

Sorry for the Silence…

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I cannot believe it has been some two months since my last post.. my apologies…

We are still awaiting to move back to our flood hit home but the end is in sight. We hope the next two weeks of frenzied activity by builders, decorators and such like will result in a fresh exciting new venue. Please watch this space as we will be posting new dates for some exciting dinners over the next few months.

We will also be posting some revues of meals out we have had over the past few months as they provide some great inspiration of what we could also offer.

Some of the pictures show the work in progress and we are lucky to have a great bunch of workman helping to restore our home.

Thank you to you all for your patience and understanding…

Cheers

Hari C

Where’s the service…?

I recently paid a visit to a local newly reopened garden centre that has undergone a major capital expenditure and boasts a new restaurant called “Kitchen”.

Now call me old fashioned but to me a restaurant is one where one expects a level of service and there now seems to me a real movement in these type of places to make the experience totally devoid of all service.

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We the customer are herded into slow moving dithering lines bombarded with choice and herded like sheep to a till where there is a lack of social interaction with the customer as they are tasked to fleece you of your money as quickly as they can.

The amount of money they have spent here to make the place look stunning and it has given it a real sense of theatre but the one thing lacking was for me a real basic. Service.

I absolutely abhor the self service concept these and many like minded places adopt and their argument is they are cheaper to run as staffing levels are less. Well as a customer I can tell you they are totally wrong.

From the moment we arrived they had staff plentiful all looking as though they were busy but the whole concept was flawed as they did little to direct the customer as to how to order their food. A small queue to pay at a till ensued and the hot food ordered duly got cold – another pet hate.

They were not that busy and I could imagine it would be carnage when they are.

The local butcher that has a major concession within the food hall showcased his sausages on the menu and whilst they might look good they were pretty average and tasteless. Items in the food hall that tempted my wife could not be purchased and eaten in the restaurant… where’s the logic in that?

My wife in a wheelchair had no way of independently gathering her desired purchase and payment as there was no where to place her tray – obviously no thought had been given to this sector and for that matter for a single parent with young children as well would similarly struggle to collect their food and make payment.

An open plan kitchen revealed a plethora of staff and management seemed to be visible and hands on but for me it all lacked a soul or character. It looks fabulous but failed to deliver a memorable experience. If it had been mine a smaller menu and full table service approach would have made this place something to be proud of and very memorable.

It can be done, they should look at a place not that far from them called the The Twig and Spoon. It very nearly went the same route but a last minute ownership decision to provide full table service meant they have created something far more pleasurable and commendable than yet another self serve nondescript cafe.

Who ever makes these decisions might think on paper they look good but operationally they need to think the process through as to what sort of customer service do they truly offer.

They have totally missed an opportunity to provide a unique and I am sure very profitable eating establishment…maybe one day they will learn or perhaps there will be customer revolution and the masses will rise up and boycott them… then again!

“Carne Argentina Unica” or CAU to you and me…

Well it was with some excitement I had a booking in the newly opened restaurant CAU in central Tunbridge Wells. I had known the property for quite a few years and had been instrumental in possibly it’s first incarnation as an eatery when it was a travel agents & restaurant as “Travel 101″ before then becoming a Burger King. Then hence a variety of eating and drinking establishments.

I think now as CAU there has obviously been some “Blue Sky” thinking and the makeover of the premises has undergone is major – Blue Sky with clouds murals on the walls and modern cloud shaped lamps over the bar counter along with some pretty funky contemporary decor and lighting. Black tables with black and white leather swivel chairs all add to the funky and modernistic decor.

The open plan kitchen provides a sense of theatre but at times a bit of a “blue fug” as opposed to “Blue Sky” appeared as the grilling caused the room to smoke up!

So how was my visit… well having booked a table (very easy and efficient on line with Top Table) we arrived possibly about ten minutes late to find our allotted table was by the entrance door. Not particularly conducive or welcomed – they however changed it quickly to a table in the centre of the room with a good view of the kitchen.

Down to the menu and our choices… Our waiter explained the concept of the Argentinean inspired food with small tapas style starters and then a range of steak dishes as mains. (there are other dishes such as Chicken and Fish for the non carnivores)   We remarked the weight sizes for the steaks seemed huge – the Lomito cut at a whopping 440g and the Asado de Chorizo at 500g and inquired were they designed to be for two people? He remarked normally one person would order and consume! Tunbridge Wells obviously has gargantuan appetites!

We kicked off with a selection of small plates to share… The Belly of Pork Tempura, Empanadas – we chose the spicy ground beef & onion and the Spanish Chorizo & Cream Cheese. Then finally Anticuchos Skewer of Marinated Chicken with Guacamole. Presentation was simple and stylish the tempura was a generous portion of five hunks of tender pork in a crisp batter. The BBQ style CAUchup with it was much needed as we both felt the pork lacked something in terms of flavour. The Empanadas were well made and we preferred the beef one as it packed more of a flavour punch and whilst the chicken skewer was also well executed it was just a touch under seasoned.

Our main course choices were the same with the Tapa de Cuadril – a top rump steak cut into thin steaks just flash grilled. We chose triple cooked chunky chips and a house special of “Causlaw” plus a small side salad to share as the additions. There was also some assorted sauces to choose from as well but with an additional charge. In fact the whole menu might seem initially quite good value but it is all the add-ons that could quite easily bump up the cost per person.

The steak we consumed was OK, not outstanding or that memorable. The seasoning was a little light and whilst the steak was cut thin it was for me very slightly overcooked and some pieces were even tough to eat. Triple cooked chips were OK – again not memorable – the highlight for me was the Causlaw that was made from finely shredded red cabbage.

Overall I have to say it was not a meal that excited us in every way, service was friendly and attentive, check backs were regular and possibly too many requests as to everything all OK. The room is noisy with loud music when quiet and when full of diners the conversation noise drowns out the music.

I however will be going back as it would be unfair to judge totally from this sole visit and when you compare it to their competitor down the road from them in the form of “Côte” this place will be a welcome addition to the town and fulfils a need.

The Argentinean theme is interesting and different but I am not sure whether importing the “Ice Creams” from this said country will go down well with the “food miles conscious” residents of Tunbridge Wells when they have a local supplier of quality ice creams on their door step that could make to their specification.

I will certainly go back “en famille” next time, but for me the jury is still out a bit and whilst I have read good reviews from others I will reserve my final judgement.

It is welcoming to see something else open in the town and I am sure it will flourish especially when you see how busy it was on the night we were there.

www.caurestaurants.com

Kent's first Underground/Secret Restaurant…

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