So I’ve been a bit lax on the old blogging front, because, well y’know, life and stuff. But one thing I haven’t shied away from this year is eating. Constantly. It’s the Chinese year of the pig and also you could argue the Charlie Bond year of the pig too.
But really, all this eating I’ve been doing is a public service because now I’m here to share my best eats of the year. And by share, I mean list them below – getting me to actually share food is another matter entirely (and usually involves me ordering extra dishes to ensure maximum gluttony.)
Best for: Beers with benefits
Newly opened in 2019, I finally got the chance to check out Chapel Down’s latest venture – The Curious Brewery, which along with being an actual real-life brewery, has a great restaurant and bar upstairs. The space is super stylish, there’s a window where you can watch the brewery in action, and then there’s the food and drink. I would fully recommend trying as many things as you can from the bar menu because there’s SO MUCH DELICIOUS. Prawns with a curried dip, a scotch egg with tomato chutney, battered mussels… just go and eat. And drink, obviously because they also do great beers.
Best for: Dreamy decor
Many of you will be familiar with The Elite Pubs group and their many excellent eateries across the county (shout out to my long time fave The Great House). But this autumn they added a new venue to their repertoire, and it’s so pretty. The building has been many things in the past including a couple of Indian restaurants, but this is by far the best, and tastiest edition. Try their burgers, their wood-fired pizzas and if you’re about that sharing life then I’d recommend the mini hotdog slider board to start – but be warned, you’ll want more.
Best for: Feeling fancy
The Beacon’s ethos is all about bringing people together around the table and eating fresh, seasonal produce from their Garden Kitchen. As well as absolutely stunning views for miles, the menu is also pretty stunning, with the likes of braised short rib, pheasant and venison in the mix. Their gorgeous stylish but cosy decor is almost too welcoming – once you’re seated by the fire with a cocktail in hand you’ll find it very hard to leave. Oh, speaking of which, the cocktails… try not to be the designated driver when you visit, because you’ll want to work your way through the menu.
Best for: Barbecued meat
By far one of the best meals I’ve had this year was at The Korean Cowgirl when I spent a weekend playing tourist in Canterbury. The barbecued meat options are plentiful and it’s hard to choose, but once you do, the meat is succulent and flavoursome and just…I don’t know if I can continue because this is making me drool as I reminisce. Oh! And then there’s the Korean fried chicken. Basically, go very hungry and return as soon as you can.
Best for: A pub lunch
I’ve eaten at a lot of pubs this year, and to be honest it was very hard to pick a favourite, but there had to be a winner. The George & Dragon is great in all seasons – come summer they have great outdoor space to relax with a wine in the sun, and in the winter they have roaring fires and warming meals. My top pick would be the sausage and mash – simple, but oh so tasty.
Best for: Japanese joy
I’ve been to Japan twice (humble brag, #SorryNotSorry etc etc) and honestly Kitsu’s food quite often beats the real deal – especially their tempura sake avocado maki (M23 on the menu to save you searching). Great atmosphere, great prices, great food – what’s not to love? Kitsu would make it to my ‘best of’ list every year.
Best for: Brunch
If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love brunch. A lot. I even dedicated this post to my love of places in Kent fusing breakfast and lunch together with a squish of avocado and a pinch of chilli flakes. But this year I discovered a new fave – The Bakehouse at 124 in Tonbridge is charming and quaint with some really rather delicious brunch options. Plus there’s cake and strong coffee too, which is always a winner.
Best for: A burger
Hands down, the best burger I’ve had this year was from Framptons. On Tuesdays they do a drink, burger and fries for £10, and I promise you it’ll be the best £10 you spend. The dirty burger would be my pick – there’s avocado, jalapeños and sriracha mayonnaise inside, which are basically the three foods I eat the most of in life anyway, but with this meal there’s the added bonus of a beef burger, wine and chips. Aka, the dream (and three other items that feature heavily in my life).
Best for: Tapas
If I could eat El Cortador’s chorizo and padron peppers every day, I would. This restaurant has such a great selection of tapas and the portion sizes are good too, if you’re a greedy guzzleguts like me. Plus, once you’re done gorging on Spanish delights, you can take a stroll down to the beach and walk off some of those cured meat sweats.