Abode with me

Kent Life - - Food And Drink - WORDS: Sarah Sturt PHO­TOS: ABode Ho­tels group

With a fab­u­lous set­ting in the heart of the city, ABode Can­ter­bury is not only a great place to stay

but of­fers a fan­tas­tic din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence too

Can­ter­bury is blessed with so much to of­fer lucky lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike, from its world­fa­mous Cathe­dral and re­vi­talised Mar­lowe Theatre to its vi­brant shop­ping and din­ing scene.

It is also blessed in hav­ing a rather fab­u­lous ho­tel right in the heart of the city that’s just been awarded three AA rosettes for its restau­rant, join­ing a mere 10 per cent of all AA-rated ho­tels across the UK to hold the ac­co­lade.

ABode Can­ter­bury was com­mended on hav­ing an ‘out­stand­ing restau­rant that achieves stan­dards that de­mand na­tional recog­ni­tion well be­yond its lo­cal area’ – which gave me a great ex­cuse to stay the night and check out the claims for my­self.

An easy walk from Can­ter­bury West (al­ways my pre­ferred choice when trav­el­ling here from West Kent) and right op­po­site The Beaney, glass doors of­fer first sight of an en­tic­ingly glam­orous in­te­rior com­plete with a Cham­pagne Bar.

Re­cep­tion staff are young, fun and wel­com­ing (Ricky of the great hair and charisma proved a par­tic­u­lar de­light) and I was soon checked in and ad­mir­ing my ‘Most En­vi­able’ room – cat­e­gories range from ‘Com­fort­able’ to ‘Fab­u­lous.’

It most cer­tainly was en­vi­able. Spa­cious, with a supremely com­fort­able king-size bed I found very hard to leave the fol­low­ing morn­ing, there was a splen­did bath­room with a free­stand­ing roll­top bath and wet room, a smart leather sofa, even plenty of desk space – al­ways a plus for me.

A fea­ture wall pa­pered with pen­cil-filled pots was a nice quirky touch and I loved the muted, mod­ern tar­tan in warm au­tum­nal shades used for soft fur­nish­ings.

But din­ner beck­oned and I took the stairs to ap­pre­ci­ate bet­ter the his­toric charms of this ho­tel which, along­side its con­tem­po­rary ap­peal, has 12th-cen­tury ori­gins seen in old wooden beams, slop­ing ceil­ings and nooks and cran­nies.

Airy and spa­cious, The County restau­rant takes its name from the ho­tel’s orig­i­nal name back in 1892. Char­ac­terised by mod­ern Euro­pean cui­sine, it breathes a clas­sic yet very mod­ern el­e­gance, with plush neu­tral fur­ni­ture and low light­ing, a gor­geous cen­tral bar and black and white ab­stract scenes of Can­ter­bury on the walls.

Tal­ented ex­ec­u­tive head chef Jauca Catalin had de­cided in ad­vance that I was to try the five-course Tast­ing Menu, served along­side matched wines. I wasn’t go­ing to ar­gue with the Ro­ma­nian ex-foot­baller, but was highly re­lieved I’d for­got­ten about lunch.

You can tell a great deal about a place from its bread and I knew at once this was not a chef who would pan­der to pop­u­lar opin­ion.

I tried the warm, home-made gra­nary, spread with but­ter that tasted like wood smoke and was def­i­nitely not for the faint­hearted (I loved it). Very crunchy white bread came with a dif­fer­ent but­ter bring­ing with it a hint of cumin.

The dishes that fol­lowed were quite rightly small, but ex­quis­ite, no bet­ter char­ac­terised than in the very first of­fer­ing: white crab meat with lime con­fit, mooli and – yes re­ally – peanut but­ter chilli caramel. The flavour ex­plo­sion in the mouth was sen­sa­tional, the lime unit­ing the sparklingly fresh in­gre­di­ents into some of the best, most un­ex­pected mouth­fuls I’ve ever be­gun a meal with.

A light, cit­russy Al­sace

Ries­ling, served by lovely new-ish op­er­a­tions man­ager Miles Shut­tle­worth (who sure knows his wines), com­ple­mented beau­ti­fully.

He sur­prised me with the next choice, No­tios Agior­gi­tiko, a smooth, mel­low Greek red that that suited the glo­ri­ously rich Madeira jus and hit of blue­ber­ries that pooled around ten­der squab pi­geon breast served with Kohlrabi and semolina gnoc­chi.

Chef’s love of Ja­panese cui­sine was ev­i­dent in his skil­ful pair­ing of wild tur­bot with miso-dashi and an ap­ple and gin­ger purée, the whole won­der­ful dish en­hanced by the honey and pineap­ple notes of a mel­low Ar­gen­tinian Chardon­nay to ac­com­pany.

Vy­ing with the crab for first place in my heart came fil­let of Ken­tish beef with sal­sify, mush­rooms girolle, lo­vage and a deep, pep­pery red wine re­duc­tion: lov­ing chef’s huge, gutsy flavours.

My notes tell me the wine pair­ing – a glo­ri­ous Saint-Chinian from the Langue­doc-Rous­sil­lon re­gion – was ‘divine.’ They also re­mind me that so of­ten a tast­ing menu is deeply dis­ap­point­ing: ha! not this one.

A fab­u­lously rich dessert with prac­ti­cally all my favourite things in it – choco­late, banana, peanuts but in very fancy form – came with an orange Mus­cat that turned the whole thing into the best Terry’s choco­late orange ever, el­e­vated to a whole new fun and lovely height.

Nat­u­rally I slept like a log, a very happy log, and you will be amazed but prob­a­bly not at all sur­prised that I pol­ished off avo­cado and poached eggs on sour­dough toast for break­fast.

Ex­cel­lent ser­vice from a largely multi-cul­tural staff, gen­uinely in­ter­ested in what I thought, re­flects the cos­mopoli­tan city they call home. This place is a gem.

The ABode en­joys a fan­tas­tic city-cen­tre set­ting in his­toric Can­ter­bury

Fine in­gre­di­ents, skil­fully pre­sented

ABOVE:The el­e­gant, mod­ern County Restau­rant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.