in a nutshell
Simple British food to warm the soul in a historic building on the edge of Canterbury’s medieval city centre.
This is the second restaurant in The Corner House Restaurants group, headed up by chef Matthew Sworder. The original site in Minster, originally owned and run by Matt’s dad, has received recognition in both the michelin and good food guides. A Kentish boy at heart, Matt devises his menus to reflect the southeast’s bounty.
what’s the room like?
The restaurant has taken over a former 16th Century pub, the second oldest in Canterbury. The Grade II building has had its character fully restored, so expect beams, exposed brickwork and an open fire. Touches of copper, industrial lighting and large mirrors add a modern edge. The cosy, casual atmosphere would work equally well for date night or Sunday lunch with the family.
Sharing boards are a must. There are usually three on offer, all seasonal and served gloriously unadulterated with seasonal vegetables and potatoes. The Stour Valley rabbit loin stuffed with apricots came with a rabbit leg and black pudding sausage roll, deliciously creamy mash and a simple side of vibrant spring cabbage and golden roasted cauliflower.
The other sharing options, new season Romney Marsh shoulder of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and the summer BBQ special with homemade ketchups, were equally tempting. The stand alone mains, like the guinea fowl supreme with its decadent sherry cream sauce and the beautifully pink roasted duck breast with carrots three ways, were also excellent and well cooked.
The local highlights continue on the drinks menu – draught and bottled beers and ciders are exclusively Kentish. The wine list is reasonable and nicely varied, but still features plenty of local options, including a bottle of sparkling. The Biddenden Ortega (£22) is a great value off-dry white, especially enjoyable with the vegetable flowerpot starter, and the Chapel Down Union Red is ideal with the duck breast.
From a bit further afield, the Romanian pinot noir recommended for the rabbit was bursting with red fruits, followed by vanilla, and was perfect served slightly cooler than room temperature. The majority of the dishes on the menu have a suggested wine listed alongside them.
If spirits are more your speed, try one of their Seven Deadly Gins, two of which are distilled locally, or the locally made Nip from Hip flavoured gins and vodkas.
what else did you like/dislike?
It’s not only the mains you can share, there are also sharing options for starters and desserts. The dessert sharing board is a full-size portion of each of the desserts on the menu – a winner if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
Despite the menu being seasonal, the overall feeling was one of autumn rather than summer. Instead of a cream sauce with the guinea fowl, why not a vinaigrette? Instead of mash with the rabbit, why not wild mushrooms? The shops may have started stocking jackets and boots, but let’s not leave summer behind just yet.
This restaurant is just where you would want to go with your family or a group of friends. The waiting staff are friendly, the set menus offer excellent value and the quality of the food is good. There is nothing too complicated, just honest British food cooked well in a characterful setting.
Written by Pami Hoggatt, August 2016
Photo credit: ISP Photography
1 Dover Street
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