This pretty country house between Rochester and Canterbury is a restaurant with rooms whose emphasis is firmly placed on the fantastic food that David Pitchford has been cooking for 34 years. It’s the sort of stuff you eat in awe, pausing only to marvel at the skill. The menu throws you into fits of indecision (£60 for either three courses or a seven-course tasting menu excluding wine), but it’s delicious stuff: Montgomery Cheddar soufflé, Kentish lamb with glazed apricots, a lemon tart with pink grapefruit marinated in white port. The beautiful bedrooms have bathrobes, Roberts radios, antique furniture and decanters of sherry and beds are turned down while you eat. There’s exemplary service too.
Stay there: Double rooms from £165, b&b; dinner, b&b from £135 per person (reads.com).
Inviting chef Dev Biswal to launch his second restaurant in the Grade-II listed White Vine House, was a masterstroke. Javed Khan has painstakingly restored this 16th century house set on the high street in the Sussex town of Rye, which opened at the end of 2011. The oak-panelled Elizabethan dining room serves modern-Indian, fine-dining cuisine. Seasonal produce, locally sourced and foraged, is given the authentic treatment with delicate spicing. The à la carte features mains such as slow-cooked Kentish mutton and Chantenay carrots, with masala potatoes and Kashmiri sauce of cinnamon and saffron (from £11.95), while the tasting menu costs just £44.95. The simple décor of the six rooms upstairs offsets the original features, without scrimping on luxury.
Stay there: Double rooms from £99, b&b (whitevinehouse.co.uk; theambrette.co.uk).
THE GREAT HOUSE
Deep in Suffolk is Lavenham, a cluster of half-timbered Tudor houses gently sagging under the weight of time. On the main square, within stout Georgian walls, The Great House offers an experience that is as French as this village is English. Owners Regis and Martine Crépy have been championing their homeland’s cooking here since 1985, observant of, but not slavish to, contemporary trends for both food and décor. In the groundfloor restaurant, the à la carte (mains from £15.95) and set dinners (three courses £33.50) feature refined yet unfussy dishes, such as steamed and seared guinea fowl fillet with oyster mushroom and truffle oil. Upstairs, the five bedrooms come with heavy wooden furnishings and luxurious touches of linen, velvet and silk.
Stay there: Double rooms from £95 (greathouse.co.uk).
Main image, above. Paul Kitching’s restaurant on this leafy Georgian terrace in Edinburgh is easy to spot; its brightly coloured numerals standing out against historic granite. The high-ceiling period dining room’s muted décor contrasts sharply with Kitching’s Michelin-garlanded, tastebud-tricking skill. Pairings startle and tantalise – seabass with celeriac and hazelnuts, chicken with fennel and pear (three courses £48; five for £68). After dinner, retreat to one of the four bedrooms, where retro furniture and big mirrors surround a vast bed. Two of the rooms face the Forth; and two overlook the garden and monument-studded Calton Hill. Breakfast includes salmon with caviar.
Stay there: Double rooms from £150, 21212restaurant.co.uk
Written February 2014