Looking for places eat in Canterbury, Kent? If you want to know where to eat in Canterbury, then check out our expert restaurant review of The Goods Shed in Canterbury. Expect homemade food done well using locally sourced produce. We have plenty more Kent restaurant tips here.
A restaurant in a farmer’s market that draws on market produce is a no-brainer. Ingredients are fresh, usually picked that morning, and travel not miles but yards. Of all such restaurants I’ve tried, few do it as perfectly as The Goods Shed in Canterbury.
The place is what it says: a vast red-brick railway goods shed bang next to Canterbury’s railway station (handy if you’re dashing for a train after your visit). It was converted into a food space in 2002 by farmer’s daughter Susanna Sait, with the aim of creating a market community. It’s stunning. And Susanna was clever in her choice of chef – Spanish-born Rafael Sanchez who has turned the market’s restaurant into a destination in its own right (more on which in a moment).
Downstairs is the farmer’s market – although, as it’s open seven days a week, foodhall is perhaps a better description. Stands include Wild Goose, selling seasonal cocktails and little dishes, Enzo’s Bakery, and Fermental brewing gut-nurturing goods like kombucha. There are stalls laden with everything from freshly caught squid to locally shot game, Kentish cobnut oil, and Simply ice cream made near Ashford. Being in the Garden of England, you’ll also find Duskin apple juices, Hopdaemon beers and Biddenden vineyards wines. But the standout is the cheese, ranging from a 12-month-aged Ancient Ashmore to a wrinkly-skinned Canterbury Cobbler. The producers, Cheesemakers of Canterbury have just started making a Ramsey sheep’s cheese too – Kent’s answer to pecorino – and handcraft a very passable butter (cheesemakersofcanterbury.co.uk).
The restaurant is on an airy wooden-floored upper level with an open kitchen at one end. Eat here and you’re away from the bustle of trading but still enjoy its soothing murmur. As you feast at the restaurant’s scrubbed pine tables, you can watch shoppers milling about below or indulge your inner trainspotter by gazing through the shed’s arched Victorian windows at the high-speed trains hurtling past outside.
The food is modern British cooking raised to impressive heights by superb fresh ingredients and Rafael’s creative talent and technique. As the produce comes from downstairs – and from Susanna’s smallholding – the menu changes twice a day, which keeps both chefs and customers on their toes. Susanna’s garden also brings ingredients you don’t often find in restaurants, from lovage to quince and sweet violets. One ingredient Susanna is particularly proud of is her new potatoes. “We can get them out of the ground and on the plate the same day,” she says. “For me, the Goods Shed was about recreating mum’s kitchen table after years away from home at boarding school.”
Lunch kicks off with a pillow of freshly baked focaccia topped with roast onions that arrives on a board. It’s just the right side of oily, sprinkled with the perfect amount of salt to bring out its flavours, and so lip-smackingly good I’d be happy lunching on that alone.
The menu sings of the seasons. I visit in spring, and with goodies like asparagus in season, instead of ordering a starter and main I plump for two veg-heavy starters. First, a dollop of creamy asparagus custard that’s crowned with a langoustine. The combo of herb-scented flavours is a delight but it’s a feast for the eyes too, as the plate, like all the crockery, is made locally by Canterbury Pottery.
My second starter is as good, if not better: courgette flower stuffed with a creamy, lemony goat’s cheese, served with a salad of herbs – including my favourite, lovage – from Susanna’s garden. I conclude with a slice of caramelly Gypsy Tart, a nod to the Goods Shed’s Kentish heritage. If lunch is this good, I can only wonder what candlelit evening dinners are like here.
It’d be easy to consume an entire day shopping and eating here, but it would be a crime not to visit Canterbury’s magnificent cathedral (Canterbury-cathedral.org) and lanes of clapboard-clad cottages. If you’re wanting more gastronomic excitement, head to foodie Faversham (here are some great places to eat and drink in Faversham) or to The Three Mariners, a gorgeously remote 18th-century inn overlooking Oare creek. To make a weekend of it, book into Canterbury’s Longport B&B, a Georgian house opposite the site of St Augustine’s Abbey. Or, for rural (but affordable) splendour, hole up Huntingfield House at Eastling, near Faversham.
The Goods Shed, Station Road West, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 8AN thegoodsshed.co.uk
Words by Clare Hargreaves
Photography by Clare Hargreaves