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.
You’ll always find that perfect gift at Gorgeous George