The Fordwich Arms in a nutshell: A ten minute taxi ride from Canterbury station takes you to Fordwich, Britain’s smallest town and the recently refurbished Fordwich Arms pub, set on the banks of the River Stour.
But this is not pub food as we know it. The trio of co-owners, chef Daniel Smith (ex of The Clove Club) has along with partner and pastry chef Natasha Norton-Smith and front of house Guy Palmer-Brown created an experience that is firmly in the refined, modern dining category.
What’s the vibe?
The pub is split into two rooms – a traditional bar with pumps, an open fire and green velvet banquettes, and a cosy, warm, wood-panelled dining room (there’s also a pretty covered terrace and beer garden for when the weather turns warmer).
What’s the food like?
The menu has plenty of choice, offering a set menu, tasting menu and a la carte. We went for the tasting menu (£65 for 6 courses plus snacks and home-made bread and butter).
‘Snacks’ is underselling it a bit. Miniature Westcombe cheddar cheese curd tarts with a wobbly filling, a single oyster poached in charcoal cream with herb oil and English caviar and a crisp thin wafer sandwich of creamy cod’s roe and dill pickle were just some of the little bites presented.
The main dishes that followed were equally delicate in execution and flavour with ridiculously pretty presentation – highlights included an expertly grilled piece of monkfish with cauli purée, smoked butter and caviar, venison with grilled cep, creamy celeriac and smoked bone marrow and a chewy elderflower, raspberry and lemon ice-cream macaron sandwich. Portions were well judged, although we were slightly struggling by our second dessert, a refined riff on a mint chocolate Aero bar.
Service is warm, friendly and knowledgeable; staff have obviously been well briefed on ingredients and techniques and delivery of the dishes was nicely spaced making this an ideal place to spend a relaxed leisurely lunch. Do come hungry though.
King Street, Fordwich, near Canterbury, Kent,
Words by Janine Ratcliffe
Images by The Fordwich Arms