Custom in a nutshell
Art meets food meets community at Folkestone’s new restaurant in Harbour Arm.
Chef and artist Cherry Truluck and her team are all about bringing people together for great food and shared interests. Through Cherry’s imaginative menus, food-focussed artistic projects and a unique bartering system, Custom aims to make fantastic local food, and the pleasure of sharing it with others, available to everyone.
What’s the vibe like?
In a shipping container in the East Yard of Folkestone’s Harbour Arm, Custom’s vibe is decidedly understated. There are just three communal tables, seating around 12, and an open kitchen. Jars of pickles and preserves, the majority of which have been made from fruit and veg bartered by local people, festoon every available shelf. Local art decorates walls and warmth emanates from customers and staff alike.
What’s the food like?
The menu changes on a weekly basis, based on whatever has been sourced from local suppliers. Amazingly, the majority of the menu is grown, reared or landed within five miles of Folkestone. The fluidity of the menu allows for constant innovation – as a result, the food is creative, hyperlocal and incredibly seasonal.
With very few dishes above £5, you can pop in for a snack or light lunch and order one or two of the small plates. For dinner, booking is required but once you’ve secured a table we strongly advise you to order one of everything on the menu.
We started with a butternut squash and chestnut terrine dotted with Kentish blue cheese, which offered the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. Next was gorgeous mackerel with tart sea buckthorn jam, pink peppercorns and cavolo nero. We followed it with fluffy beetroot gnocchi, saffron yogurt, pickled grapes and roasted romanesco, which was earthy and deeply satisfying.
Last of the small plates was delicate Folkestone sea bass served in a nettle broth with pine-roasted carrots. All the dishes were as surprising as they were delicious, combining the best Folkestone has to offer with Cherry’s ingenuity and the freedom allowed by such a small-scale operation.
We finished with a delicious rosehip soup – that’s right, soup as a dessert! – and a historic local recipe, Folkestone pudding pie. Sweet and hot, all balanced with a dollop of creamy crème fraîche, the soup was incredible. The pie, which could have been old-fashioned and stodgy, was incredibly light and custardy, studded with currants and raisins.
And the drinks?
The drinks list champions local wines from Folkestone and other vineyards further afield in Kent (discover some of the best places to eat and drink in Kent here), plus a couple more affordable new world wines, as well as a Docker beer brewed in the shipping container next door.
olive tip: If you have a glut of tomatoes in August or too many apples in October, bring them into Custom and trade them for a meal or for a jar or two of whatever Cherry transforms them into. Plus, you can enjoy your 15 minutes of fame with your name on the menu alongside your produce! Or, if you don’t have a garden but you’re a dab hand at the washing up you can volunteer your time at Custom in exchange for a taste of that week’s dishes. Not only are there lots of delicious things cooking, but there are plenty of ways for the local community to get involved, too.
Custom Folkestone, East Yard, Folkestone Harbour Arm CT20 1QH
Words by Pami Hoggatt