The West House Biddenden - Restaurant Review

The West House Biddenden – restaurant review....

The West House Biddenden – restaurant review 

The West House Biddenden – restaurant review Bread and dripping is not something one usually associates with Michelin Star dining, but when it’s home-made bread served warm in a little cloth bag with the lightest of thyme and farmhouse butter-laced pork dripping to spread on it, then it becomes something else entirely.It’s the first of many surprises at The West House on Biddenden’s pretty high street. Set in a 15th-century Flemish weaver’s cottage, a Grade II listed building, the family-run restaurant is tiny, seating up to just 32 at dark oak round or square tables. A big recessed fireplace houses a woodburning stove and beams cover the ceiling and plain white walls, which are hung with modern prints of radishes – a quirky but typical touch.Then there’s the chef-owner himself. Graham Garrett is still a real East End boy, utterly unpretentious and down to earth. I am not convinced he knows how good he is, despite gaining his Michelin Star six years ago (after just two years here) and having won many awards over the same period.His welcoming wife Jackie looks after the front of house and the couple are now getting help from their teenage son and daughter, so it’s a real family affair. Out in the kitchen Graham, who learned his craft in London with Nico Ladenis and Richard Corrigan, is assisted by Ben Crittenden, from Ramsgate – who, we agree, really should move to Frittenden for the sheer rhyming fun.The short dinner menu completely reflects Graham’s style – concise dish names hiding a great deal of skill and impeccable judgement of flavours. Thus ‘tomato’ is actually tomato tartare with a fried courgette flower, feta cheese and black olive salt, ‘pork’ is slow-cooked pigs’ cheeks with carrots, turnips and chorizo cream while ‘custard’ is vanilla cr�me br�l�e with cherries and a brandy snap. You get the picture.The West House Biddenden – restaurant review 

 Bread and dripping is not something one usually associates with Michelin Star dining, but when it’s home-made bread served warm in a little cloth bag with the lightest of thyme and farmhouse butter-laced pork dripping to spread on it, then it becomes something else entirely.

It’s the first of many surprises at The West House on Biddenden’s pretty high street. Set in a 15th-century Flemish weaver’s cottage, a Grade II listed building, the family-run restaurant is tiny, seating up to just 32 at dark oak round or square tables. A big recessed fireplace houses a woodburning stove and beams cover the ceiling and plain white walls, which are hung with modern prints of radishes – a quirky but typical touch.Then there’s the chef-owner himself. Graham Garrett is still a real East End boy, utterly unpretentious and down to earth. I am not convinced he knows how good he is, despite gaining his Michelin Star six years ago (after just two years here) and having won many awards over the same period.His welcoming wife Jackie looks after the front of house and the couple are now getting help from their teenage son and daughter, so it’s a real family affair.

Out in the kitchen Graham, who learned his craft in London with Nico Ladenis and Richard Corrigan, is assisted by Ben Crittenden, from Ramsgate – who, we agree, really should move to Frittenden for the sheer rhyming fun.The short dinner menu completely reflects Graham’s style – concise dish names hiding a great deal of skill and impeccable judgement of flavours. Thus ‘tomato’ is actually tomato tartare with a fried courgette flower, feta cheese and black olive salt, ‘pork’ is slow-cooked pigs’ cheeks with carrots, turnips and chorizo cream while ‘custard’ is vanilla cr�me br�l�e with cherries and a brandy snap. You get the picture.

The passion is all in the cooking, which relies heavily on the best of local produce – fish from Chapman’s of Sevenoaks, game and partridge from Necci Game of Staplehurst, fruit and veg from Friday Street Farm, all complemented by a carefully chosen wine list of about 80 wines (the new list will include some local Chapel Down favourites, we are assured).Suitably intrigued, My Double-Barrelled Friend and I made our choices from a sensibly short selection of five starters and five mains. MDBF opted for ‘ham and eggs’, which turned about to be jellied ham hock, black pudding, a small but perfectly formed warm Scotch egg and the most delicious home-made piccalilli. “It tastes like proper ham should do!” he said, with a note of surprise – and there was a similar response to his roast Temple Farm ‘chicken’ main, which had the subtlest and softest of flavours that only comes with a really fresh, perfectly cooked bird. Served with potato gnocchi, artichokes and girolles (and a glass of French Caves de Gaillac Sauvignon Privilege), this was a winning plateful.Meanwhile, I kick-started my tastebuds into touch with a zingy selection of marinated fillet of mackerel and beetroot, accompanied by frozen horseradish and a shot of cucumber jelly – a great palate cleanser before my meltingly tender roast fillet of venison served with Brogdale Farm cherries, the evening’s ‘special.’ Richly red and robustly flavoursome, this was the star turn for me and worked especially well with a glass of Spanish red, Bodegas Pittacum Bierzo Tinto 2005. My pudding transported me straight back to childhood: ‘crunchie’ turns out to be white chocolate honeycomb parfait with dark chocolate sorbet (heaven for chocoholics), while MDBF loved his ‘strawberries and cream, an elegantly delicious combination of cr�me fraiche, pannacotta, local strawberries and rose water meringue with frosted tarragon.The final word comes from Graham, who looks visibly more relaxed at the end of the evening. “If I got fed up cooking, I’d do something else – but I still get excited by it!” And long may that excitement and sheer inventiveness last.

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The passion is all in the cooking, which relies heavily on the best of local produce – fish from Chapman’s of Sevenoaks, game and partridge from Necci Game of Staplehurst, fruit and veg from Friday Street Farm, all complemented by a carefully chosen wine list of about 80 wines (the new list will include some local Chapel Down favourites, we are assured).

Suitably intrigued, My Double-Barrelled Friend and I made our choices from a sensibly short selection of five starters and five mains. MDBF opted for ‘ham and eggs’, which turned about to be jellied ham hock, black pudding, a small but perfectly formed warm Scotch egg and the most delicious home-made piccalilli. “It tastes like proper ham should do!” he said, with a note of surprise – and there was a similar response to his roast Temple Farm ‘chicken’ main, which had the subtlest and softest of flavours that only comes with a really fresh, perfectly cooked bird. Served with potato gnocchi, artichokes and girolles (and a glass of French Caves de Gaillac Sauvignon Privilege), this was a winning plateful.

Meanwhile, I kick-started my tastebuds into touch with a zingy selection of marinated fillet of mackerel and beetroot, accompanied by frozen horseradish and a shot of cucumber jelly – a great palate cleanser before my meltingly tender roast fillet of venison served with Brogdale Farm cherries, the evening’s ‘special.’ Richly red and robustly flavoursome, this was the star turn for me and worked especially well with a glass of Spanish red, Bodegas Pittacum Bierzo Tinto 2005. My pudding transported me straight back to childhood: ‘crunchie’ turns out to be white chocolate honeycomb parfait with dark chocolate sorbet (heaven for chocoholics), while MDBF loved his ‘strawberries and cream, an elegantly delicious combination of cr�me fraiche, pannacotta, local strawberries and rose water meringue with frosted tarragon.

The final word comes from Graham, who looks visibly more relaxed at the end of the evening. “If I got fed up cooking, I’d do something else – but I still get excited by it!” And long may that excitement and sheer inventiveness last.

ContactThe West House Restaurant28, High Street, Biddenden TN27 8AH%01580 291341) mail@thewesthouserestaurant.co.ukTypical prices: �35 for three courses at dinner, lunch �25 for three courses or �22 for two, Sun lunch �35 (three courses) or �29 (two courses).Restaurant open: Tue-Fri 12pm-1.45pm, Sun 12pm-2.30pm, dinner: Tue-Sat 7pm- 9.30pm

Contact

The West House Restaurant

28 High Street,

Biddenden

TN27 8AH

(01580 291341)

mail@thewesthouserestaurant.co.uk

Typical prices: �35 for three courses at dinner, lunch �25 for three courses or �22 for two, Sun lunch �35 (three courses) or �29 (two courses).

Restaurant open: Tue-Fri 12pm-1.45pm, Sun 12pm-2.30pm, dinner: Tue-Sat 7pm- 9.30pm

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