Our expert guide to the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Faversham, Kent’s oldest market town. Until recently Faversham, home to Britain’s oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame – was a foodie secret which only locals and a few discerning visitors knew about. But now word is out about its burgeoning crop of restaurants, microbreweries and street markets, as well as its annual hop and food festivals, both in September.
This elegant Georgian manor-with-rooms on the edge of town has been offering high-end dining for exactly four decades and shows no signs of running out of steam.
Much of the fruit and vegetables used by chef-owner David Pitchford and his young team are from the estate’s own walled garden, or from nearby Brogdale – home of the national fruit collection – while fish comes fresh off the boats at Whitstable and Hythe.
Firm menu fixtures include the mature Montgomery Cheddar cheese soufflé with smoked haddock in a cream sauce and, for pud, its famous raspberry soufflé.
There’s an arty vibe at this boho café, tucked down a cobbled alley off the town’s Preston Street. The menu revolves around salads and hot and cold sandwiches made from seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, plus there’s freshly roasted coffee from Canterbury’s Micro Roastery.
Try the Yard chicken ‘burger’: pan-fried free-range chicken breast and prosciutto in a warm bread roll. The café displays work by local artists, and regularly hosts music bands, poetry nights and yoga sessions. It’s open daytime only, except on Thursdays when it hosts a Thirsty Thursday Supper Club.
The Macknade family (branches of which hail from Italy) have been farming and selling food in Faversham for 170 years, and their magnificent food hall has long had a reputation as the best in Kent. It’s an excellent place to stock up on Kentish produce, from local meats to Winterdale Shaw cheese, strawberries from nearby Vinson Farm, and Coxy’s liqueurs.
The coffee in its café-restaurant is from Florence’s Caffe Manaresi, reflecting the family’ Italian roots, and its famous cheese and meat platters combine Kentish and Italian ingredients too. The food hall is also home to the Wild Bread bakery and Boutilliers brewery.
As you hit Faversham your nostrils are hit by the unmistakable smell of malted barley (think Ovaltine) that’s used here, along with Kentish hops, to make beer. Shepherd Neame brewery prides itself on being the oldest in Britain, and even if you are not a beer aficionado, a tour of its ancient buildings is a must.
Sample malted barley at various stages of toasting and see the vast mash tuns in which the grain is mashed. The moment everyone waits for, of course, is the tutored tasting at the end – you try six ales, including Spitfire, first brewed in 1990 to commemorate the Battle of Britain.
This micropub is an antidote to your traditional town boozer: its tables and pews were hand carved by one of its regulars, there’s no piped music, and local art adorns the walls. Even the bar snacks, which usually include pickled duck eggs or pork scratchings, are homemade.
Most importantly, Furlongs offers drinkers the chance to try ales produced by local micro-breweries, such as Kent Brewery and Dark Star. There are normally around five ales on offer, all hand-drawn from casks, and Kentish ciders, wines and apple juices get a look-in too.
Words | Clare Hargreaves