Sunday 21 August 2016

The West House – Biddenden, Kent #MichelinStar

What Michelin say, “Characterful beamed restaurant with contemporary oil paintings and a wood-burning stove - one of a row of old weavers' cottages in a picturesque village. Original, modern dishes display global influences and the occasional playful touch, and top quality ingredients allow the natural flavours to shine through.

The West House’s Chef/Proprietor, Graham Garrett, has just published his autobiographical cookbook, entitled “Sex, Drugs & Sausage Rolls” (see here).  

Rock star to Michelin star / swapping drum sticks for wooden spoons – the cheesy tag lines write themselves, so I’m not going to bother. Instead, I’ll get to the point… the food!  

The first food to arrive was a bowl of perfectly formed breakfast radishes with aíoli; some fab olives and breads (sourdough and hazelnut & raisin, including salted and pork dripping butters) – I love radishes and have decided that a bowl like this with aíoli is how I want to start my last meal on death row (when I’m finally caught).

At dinner, The West House offer a tasting menu and a la carte – with an eye on the time to get back to pick up my wife (who was on a hen do), I opted for the a la carte. Although, after mentioning to the waiter that I particularly liked the sound of the ‘taco’ dish from the testing menu, they kindly sent this as an extra course.

The front of house team have mastered what I call “laidback proficiency” – an “anything is possible” attitude without the fuss and obsequiousness which can be the case with “fine dining”.

I started with Ajo Blanco – a silky white gazpacho with a salt cod stuffed courgette flower. A delightful summery dish.

Next, living up to my expectations, came the Taco – a crisp ‘taco’ shell, topped with sticky braised duck, onion marmalade and finials of duck liver parfait. This was finished at the table with a flurry of cured frozen foie gras. A properly sexy dish!

For my main, I opted for the Beef – two flavoursome hunks of grilled under fillet, charred alliums, carrots and radish came with an intense onion broth. With it’s light fluffy texture, a particularly delightful element came in the form of a meat stuffed steamed dumpling (think ‘baozi’).

For pud, I ordered the Tart – a beautifully crafted work of art in a crisp pastry shell. It was filled with a luscious elderflower crème and topped with slivers of strawberry, strawberry sorbet and meringue. I grew up in Kent (Bexleyheath), and eating this in one of the county’s finest restaurants triggered fond memories of summers filling punnets at a ‘pick your own’.

I don’t get back down to Kent as much as I’d like but next time I do, I certainly hope to return to The West House!





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