TON­BRIDGE

Kent Life - - Town Life: Tonbridge -

SHOP­PING AND EAT­ING

When it comes to shop­ping, there’s ev­ery­thing you could need on the High Street. Along with big name su­per­mar­kets (in­clud­ing Waitrose) there are lo­cal florists, Ian Chat­field Butch­ers & Deli and Sankey’s fish­mon­gers. Don’t miss Gor­geous Ge­orge, Lit­tle Blue Finch, The Gift Box, the ex­cel­lent Mr Books, ArtSpring Gallery (now with a new guest artist ev­ery month; look out for Ton­bridge-based painter Colin An­der­son and West Malling-based Giles White­head in March) and Bea Chil­drenswear. Cool new record shop Vinyl Des­ti­na­tion popped up in Feb­ru­ary. The Town Team or­gan­ises pop­u­lar events through­out the year and runs a loy­alty card scheme with dozens of lo­cal busi­nesses like these par­tic­i­pat­ing.

There’s a huge va­ri­ety of great cof­fee shops, cafés, pubs and restau­rants now in this vi­brant town, where the fo­cus is on qual­ity in­de­pen­dents. Some to try in­clude the cof­fee shop and pop-up food events at The Old Fire Sta­tion, Fug­gles

Beer Café, Havet, Gurkha Planet, The Vaux­hall Inn, Finch House, Mamma Mia, Sul­ston’s Kitchen, El Mari­achi, Be­yond the Grounds cof­fee shop, Basil, The Gate­house, Salt­wa­ters and The Bake­house at 124.

The new Verdi­gris restau­rant is headed up by chef Scott Goss, who com­peted in last year’s Great Bri­tish Menu on BBC2. Quirky new free house The Beer Seller opened at the end of last year. And don’t miss the award-win­ning Ton­bridge Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, My name is Clare Bar­ton and I am the owner and head baker at The Bake­house at 124. Based on Ton­bridge High Street, it is an ar­ti­san bak­ery where ev­ery­thing is made from scratch us­ing the finest in­gre­di­ents, lo­cally sourced where pos­si­ble.

Now in its third year of trad­ing, The Bake­house at 124 can be found in a listed Tu­dor build­ing which sits un­der the Cas­tle Walls. The open-plan bak­ery, which al­lows our cus­tomers to see all the bread be­ing pro­duced, is at the back of the build­ing.

We make ev­ery­thing our­selves, from sour­dough to fo­cac­cia, pas­tries such as crois­sants, brioche and cruffins (now a pop­u­lar spe­cial­ity of the Bake­house, con­sist­ing of crois­sant dough baked and rolled in sugar with a de­li­cious fill­ing) to cakes and our much-loved scones.

We have a lunch and brunch menu which is all made to or­der and we run held on the se­cond Sun­day of ev­ery month.

Lo­cal Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes has closed her Café 1809 in nearby Hilden­bor­ough af­ter four years. She still owns the build­ing and has told fans to ‘watch this space’ as she rein­vents it as some­thing new. And an­i­mal lovers will be ex­cited to hear that Ton­bridge be­came home to Kent’s first cat café last year. Paws Cat Café in An­gel Walk books time slots for a limited num­ber of guests to spend time with their 13 res­cue cats, while en­joy­ing cof­fee and cake. bread classes, pizza nights and many other events on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The Bake­house won three awards at the pres­ti­gious Tip­tree World Bread Awards, the only bak­ery in Kent to do so. So our blackberry, goats’ cheese and fen­nel sour­dough, sea salt and rose­mary fo­cac­cia and rasp­berry brioche are all award-win­ning.

Ton­bridge is my home town and has so much to of­fer: thriv­ing in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses, an in­creas­ing foodie rep­u­ta­tion, great com­mu­nity spirit, strong rail links into Lon­don and the coast and even a cas­tle. Grow­ing up in the neigh­bour­ing vil­lage of Hilden­bor­ough, it is fan­tas­tic to see how Ton­bridge has evolved and I love be­ing a part of it.

Some of my favourite lo­cal busi­nesses in­clude Sul­ston’s Kitchen, Be­yond the Grounds, Fug­gles, the Gift Box, Verdi­gris and Aqua­vie Spa.

Visit www.the­bake­house124.co.uk

You’ll al­ways find that per­fect gift at Gor­geous Ge­orge

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