Away from the madding hype, a strike back for tradition

The Vine, Sevenoaks

The Vine, Sevenoaks - Credit: Archant

Restaurant Review: The Vine, Sevenoaks

Sevenoaks, it is fair to say, has not been a part of Kent’s culinary revolution in the way that the county’s coastal towns have over the past decade or so.

In truth, that has been down largely to the fact that the establishment of an increasingly sophisticated food-and-drink sector has comprised a substantial part of the much-trumpeted rebirth of, for example, Whitstable and Margate.

Sevenoaks, of course, needs no such helping hand. Sevenoaks, as we all know, is the posh bit of Kent. And so it goes on in its quiet, understated manner.

What it has it keeps, and no one seems overly bothered in changing things. Why should they? This is a town that works, in every sense, while those who want, say, a choice of dishes from the four corners of the planet probably work in London anyway. If I sound flippant, it’s unintentional, and you get the drift.

The Vine is a Sevenoaks mainstay. Set in a conservation area and opposite England’s oldest cricket ground, it has a lot going for it. We visited on a Monday evening. The place was not wildly busy, but neither was it so bereft of diners that we felt awkward. In short, a nice number.

We were in the restaurant’s glass-fronted extension and I had wondered if it might lack a little atmosphere, especially in comparsion with the older, more traditional, section.

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Any such fears were misplaced. We sat next to said floor-to-ceiling window and savoured the immaculate layout of our surroundings. This is an extension that has been done well.

With unobtrusive and friendly service to match, it left only the small matter of the food to impress.

I chose cock crab, crispy salt cod, pickled cockles and new-season peas to start. It was grand and perhaps the reason it carried a £2 supplement.

For reasons best known to herself, my companion chose not to have a starter. She looked hungrily over at mine and the temptation to offer her some fluttered briefly but died.

Her time would come and it did in the form of sea bream, potted brown shrimp, white asparagus and new-season wild garlic. She was delighted it with it, her only mild criticism when pushed (reviewers have to do such things) being that it was a touch oily.

It was, coincidentally or otherwise, the only flaw I could muster during the whole evening and it applied to the dauphinoise potatoes I had as a side dish. In no way enough to spoil it, but worth a mention.

I had pot-roast guineafowl, cured bacon, charred leeks and winter truffle as main. Lovely... end of.

The price is set at £27 for two courses and £32 for three. With apple tart tatin as dessert, a couple of glasses of superb Sauvignon Guy Allion and coffees, the bill pitched up at £91. Not cheap maybe, but neither did we feel cheated. We were, when all said and done, in Sevenoaks.

? The Vine

11 Pound Lane, Sevenoaks

TN13 3TB

(phone 01732 469510, web www.vinerestaurant.co.uk)