Back on the Culinary Map – Eastwell Manor
Most of my fellow Kent residents have come across Eastwell Manor in their time; it being one of the county’s most beautiful treasures. The manor house, parts of which date back to the Norman Conquest, is set in a beautiful part of the North Downs just outside of Ashford near the picturesque cricket green of Boughton Aluph.
As we left the main road and drove through the gates, the magnificence that is Eastwell Manor came into sight. I was brimming with excitement, as thoughts of dining like a member of royalty filled my mind.
My guests and I entered the manor through a heavy wooden door set in a majestic courtyard. The smell of a wood-burning fireplace welcomed us on this cold night, and a friendly member of staff took us into the wood-cladded bar. Once we were seated, the new food & beverage manager Richard Shaw welcomed us each individually with a glass of bubby, and we browsed the restaurant menus with a lovely selection of canapés on hand.
There was no pressure to order as we enjoyed our drinks whilst taking in the royal feeling Eastwell Manor gives you. The menu was full of intriguing selections cooked with fresh produce by executive chef Neil Wiggins and his team. We ordered our meals and when ready, we were taken into the Manor Restaurant. The restaurant is elegantly and classically decorated (as one would expect), and boasts views onto the sprawling grounds. We were all pleasantly surprised to see a pianist playing a range of classical and jazz piano numbers throughout the evening.
The restaurant was full of diners, which for a weeknight I was most surprised – illustrating the popularity of this fine establishment. The atmosphere was lovely with a warm social buzz – most likely about the gourmet cuisine. First up came the warm poppy seed and red onion and sage bread rolls, soon followed by the starters we had ordered whilst enjoying the bubbly in the bar. I chose scallops with garlic and lime purée which were perfectly cooked and succulent. My guests tried the butter-poached lobster with celeriac and hazelnut; breast of pigeon salad; and from the specials, the H Formans London cured smoked salmon. The flavours of the freshly prepared starters were delicious to say the least.
The mains from the à la carte menu arrived at the table covered with large silver domes, which the waiters dramatically lifted at the same time to reveal our meals – an unexpected royal touch. I decided to stick with a fish course of line-caught sea bass cooked in Biddenden cider with celeriac and apple. The crispiness of the skin and freshness of the fish in the sauce was perfect.
My guests’ meals all looked very exciting, included the Tournedos Rossini (a French steak dish) with truffle mashed potatoes and truffle brioche. The loin of venison, cooked medium rare, tasted beautiful with the chestnut purée, creamed cabbage, beetroot and parsnips and last but not least, the loin of lamb shoulder slow cooked with a beetroot purée was divine. Richard had recommended a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape to complement the red meat selections which the whole table enjoyed, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for me to go with the fish.
Now it was time to decide which dessert we would choose from the impressive menu. The chefs at Eastwell Manor offer some fantastic choices, which you can only expect with a top à la carte menu. I chose the iced pear parfait with a dark chocolate sorbet, chocolate crunch and chocolate sauce, which was light and delicious. The dark chocolate pave was also a hit with my table, and the Horlicks ice cream went down wonderfully and asked the question ‘why has no one done this before?’ The poached blackberry jelly with vanilla panna cotta and hazelnut crunch not only looked lovely in its glass, but tasted beautiful.
After the meal we ordered coffees and petit fours, then retired to the comfortable manor armchairs in front of a roaring open to chat the night away. For an extra special evening, Eastwell Manor is just the venue for stunning scenery, fine dining and an overall memorable experience. The restaurant I can confirm is back to where it should be: on Kent’s culinary map.
by Adam Ready
March Dining Offer
Free bottle of house wine in The Manor Restaurant
*valid from Monday to Thursday inclusive
This offer is valid for 2 people having lunch or dinner in the Manor Restaurant. Each guest must order a minimum of two courses (one must be a main). Quote FD2013 when booking to claim your wine.