The Hungry Guest, West Malling
With its baking roots, an ethos of fresh, local ingredients and a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere, I can guarantee that you certainly won’t be left hungry at The Hungry Guest, West Malling.
Primely located in the heart of West Malling, I had heard only good things before my visit to The Hungry Guest. The company, which won Delicatessen of the Year last year, has a keen ethos of artisan foods and fresh produce, and I was intrigued to visit their second offering, this high street café-cum-bistro.
Arriving for an early Friday evening sitting, with two young guests (and a hungry husband) in tow we were immediately at ease in the comfortable surroundings of our cosy booth. The site itself – which being in a medieval town, is steeped in history, in places dating back to the 11th century – underwent a thorough and sympathetic year-long refurbishment before opening its shiny new doors in April 2015.
18 months later and it still feels fresh, new and exciting. The ground floor offers a host of comfy booths, like our own, as well as intimate square tables, all of which are situated to take advantage of the views into the open kitchen as well as the rather tempting display of sweet treats on the counter. Upstairs offers a range of couches and square tables which were popular with a host of celebratory parties, groups of friends and couples.
We had the pleasure of being served by the lovely Annette who, as well as being warm and engaging, was adept at offering menu explanations and recommendations, the first of which was to explain that a TG next to a menu option stood for Tiny Guest and meant that a smaller portion could be ordered – perfect for my mini companions!
We decided to order some bread and olives whilst we made our choices from the evening menu and were soon presented with a heaving (and I mean heaving) board of freshly baked breads, clocking our mixed reaction of awe and trepidation (how could we possibly eat all of this and our dinner?). Annette shrugged and laughed, responding with: “We’re bakers, what did you expect? Don’t worry we’ll send you home with a doggy bag for anything you can’t manage.” Amazing!
After working our way through the fresh sourdough, doughball-esqe batons, tomato and olive and white breads, we continued our feast with some garlic bread with cheese (a great precursor as to why the pizzas here are highly recommended) whilst hungry husband opted for the soup of the day: a rich, delicious thick broth of fresh peas and mint, served with yet more bread.
With just the right amount of between-course downtime, our main courses arrived. The pasta semplice for my littlest diner, listed on the menu as a small bowl of penne and tomato sauce, was in fact a more than ample portion of tasty pasta which she happily finished off for lunch the next day! Whilst daughter two opted for the HG Burger, declaring it the fattest, biggest one she’d had! The huge crispy onion rings and bucket of skinny fries were also met with wide-eyed delight and were promptly demolished.
The not-so-hungry husband opted for the Cajun chicken slider – a huge spiced flavoursome chicken breast in a brioche bun (homemade of course) with pickles, garlic mayo coleslaw and yet more fries – and I was met with various mumblings of mmm, delicious, mmm. I opted for the parmesan chicken, a beautifully seasoned and delicately cooked (huge) breast of chicken, with a crisp herby crumb served with salad and a perfectly cooked potato dauphinoise that offered just the right balance of flavour; not too rich, and totally moorish.
Already sated, we have to guiltily admit that we were swayed by dessert, not only because we’d been glimpsing sight of the puds on the counter all evening, but also by Annette’s proclamation that they are “really, really good – award-winning in fact!” And that is how we came to be in possession of two of those award-winning Hungry Guest warm chocolate brownies for us girls to share, and a hefty slice of pecan pie which was served warm for the no-longer-hungry husband.
With two very full and increasingly tired diners (and that was just the adults) it was time to bid a very fond farewell to The Hungry Guest and its wonderful team. The café has created a welcoming, cosy yet refined atmosphere, and the food exceeded our already high expectations; it was an extra bonus to be able to leave laden with our bread- and pasta-filled doggy bag, as well as some extra produce from the on-site deli shop… which may have included a couple more of those brownies.
Without doubt, no one leaves The Hungry Guest, hungry!
65 High Street
01735 870 766