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a foodie bolthole in Wye, East Kent

The Wife of Bath exterior Wye Kent

On the slopes of the Kentish North Downs, Wye is a medieval village-cum-town quietly nestled between Canterbury and Ashford. Voted third greatest place to stay in the UK by The Sunday Occasions in 2013 (behind Kendal in Cumbria and Stamford, Lincolnshire), Wye’s settlement origins date again to the Roman interval, used as a royal manor and website of a royal courtroom in the course of the Saxon period, then utilised as a market come medieval occasions – famend as a historic resting place for Pilgrims en path to Canterbury.

As we speak, most of the native buildings are medieval, albeit usually hid by comparatively trendy facades. The village itself, with its medieval road format a part of a conservation space, is residence to varied pubs, eating places, a butcher’s store and a small Co-operative retailer. On the primary and third Saturday of every month, Wye farmers’ market pedals loads of native produce with numerous breads, muffins, jams, natural meats, recent fish and locally-produced cheeses out there.

Accessible from London in lower than an hour by practice (from St. Pancras Worldwide, with a fast change at Ashford), or 90 minutes by automotive, the village is a bucolic escape from the town with it picturesque surroundings and noticeably relaxed tempo of life. One of many village’s eating locations, The Spouse of Tub, with its good-looking Georgian frontage, first opened through the early 1960s, named after Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury story – and in honour of the unique proprietor’s spouse, who he’d allegedly met in Tub. Greater than 50 years later, the restaurant was taken over by chef and restaurateur Mark Sargeant in 2016.

“The restaurant had been there since 1965 and had always had a brilliant reputation,” Mark Sargeant tells me. “But over the last five years it went through a series of different owners and sadly went down hill. When it came up on the market my business partner Josh and I were really interested. After one look we really saw the potential and that was that really.”

The Wife of Bath exterior Wye Kent

Having grown up in Kent, the previous Claridge’s chef has gone on to open eating places together with Plum + Spilt Milk in London, Sargeant’s Mess, The Duke William in Ickham, close to Canterbury, plus two tasks in Folkestone: The Smokehouse, an upmarket fish and chips store, plus Rocksalt – a restaurant with a superb harbour aspect location, championing expertly cooked native produce, primarily fish.

“Rocksalt was the first part of the jigsaw puzzle of the regeneration of Folkestone, and in the last seven years there have been masses of changes,” Mark explains. “The harbour arm, in particular, has been completely renovated along with the old railway and there are lots of street food stalls and bars along with a champagne bar in the old lighthouse. The new housing development starts next year too and this will be huge for the area.”

Whereas the menu at Rocksalt is quintessentially British, The Spouse of Tub launched as a critical trendy Spanish restaurant, outfitted with a tapas bar and 6 homely rooms for friends to guide (the final London-bound connecting practice departs Wye station earlier than eleven o’clock). In the primary Georgian city home, three bedrooms are adorned with trendy minimalism. A delicate palette of white and gray is accented with burnt orange and modern Matador-themed paintings which discretely evokes Catalonia – with out distracting the main target from the Grade II-listed constructing’s distinctive character. Timber beams are uncovered, rooms are outfitted with hearth locations, the flooring is barely skewwhiff and hefty bay home windows permit loads of mild to flood the lofty bedrooms. Two additional rooms are located in the backyard cottage throughout the automotive park. Each are comfortable but well-equipped, sharing an entrance and dwelling room-cum-pantry.

The Wife of Bath - Bedroom Wye Kent

All named after characters from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, ‘Sir Thopas’ is the home’s grandest room, bedecked with a spacious wrought-iron mattress, looming vaulted ceiling and a rest room outfitted with a tub and bathe. A Nespresso machine is accessible, alongside tea making amenities, plus a cute, pocket-sized decanter of sherry to welcome visitors. Bedrooms inside the home even have shared entry to a pantry stocked with additional towels, toiletries and recent milk. An ‘honesty bar’ additionally boasts costs which can make you need to transfer in, seemingly adhering to the medieval theme. (Beers start at £2.50. Wine prices £12 per bottle, or £three by the glass). 

“Because the Wife [of Bath] is in a small village, I wanted to harp back to the local bistros of the 60s and 70s that constantly had the smell of fried garlic and onions, which made customers feel like they were on holiday,” the chef clarifies, talking on the Northern Spanish-inspired menu served her. “I was doing some work with Mahou Spanish beer at the time and had been spending a lot of time in Spanish restaurants; plus, my mum has lived in Spain for 15 years, so it was this that made me want to take the Spanish route. Plus, it was something different from what I usually do, so more exciting for me too.” 

The menu is a breath of recent air for Kent, too, occupied by so many gastro pubs (some exceptional, nonetheless) and dated wonderful eating eating places with a penchant for balsamic glaze, convoluted menus and prehistoric cooking swamped by a lot pompous flummery. Right here, the 47-cover restaurant is about throughout two spacious rooms, attended by well-informed, intent employees. The area is straightforward however engaging, festooned with mild wooden tables dressed with flowers, gray linen napkins and a candle.

The Wife of Bath dining room Wye Kent

On the menu, it’s unsurprising that a lot of the produce celebrates the perfect of British, particularly that from Kent. In any case, the Backyard of England is liable for loads of ambrosial produce: Romney Marsh lamb, English wines from Chapel Down and Hush Heath, Goldings hops, Great thing about Kent apples. Our dialog strikes on to locally-sourced components, what with such outstanding concentrate on neighborhood at Rocksalt.

“We champion local produce but, of course, also use prime ingredients from Spain. We buy our fish from the south east coast as much as we can and local meat, vegetables and dairy too.” The chef then goes on to record a handful of notable suppliers: Foodari, Folkestone Trawlers, Orchard Farm. Dockers Bakery additionally produce all of The Spouse of Tub’s bread and a few of the restaurant’s beer.

The Wife of Bath 'Rabbit, Chorizo, Savoy Cabbage, Romesco'. Wye Kent

The Spouse of Tub’s ‘Rabbit, Chorizo, Savoy Cabbage, Romesco’.

A current dinner at The Spouse of Tub started with a dish of plump inexperienced Nocellara olives and skinny grissini to nibble whereas assessing the menu, whittling down potential decisions. A signature dish of the restaurant: a cricket ball of rabbit is studded with chorizo, wrapped in savoy cabbage and gently poached, resembling an outsized Brussel sprout (£9.75). In being steamed, the well-seasoned rabbit retained loads of moisture – wildly unusual in boned meats, notably in beasts as small as rabbits – bolstered by a Catalonian romesco, rife with punchy purple pepper and toasted almonds which lent depth of each texture and complementary sweetness. Comparatively, the cured salmon starter (£9.50) was much less adventurous, albeit high quality. Thick wedges of fish redolent with a whisper of citrus peel have been served on a sea blue plate, embellished with ribbons of paper-thin fennel, samphire, and sharp orange segments to sever the fish’s inherent oiliness.

Torn between the paella, rump steak from 12 year-old Galician cattle and the pork wellington, we have been helpfully coerced into choosing the wellington (£48 for 2, versus the £75 steak), warned that the pork can be cooked barely uncommon (correctly, a lot to the behest of grandparents throughout the nation, I’m positive). An inexpensive hunk of tenderloin was cradled by flaky puff pastry, insulated by a layer of brackish parma ham and spreadable morcilla, in place of duxelle, finally forming a holy trinity of piggy lustre. The integral pork tenderloin was shortly seared, but blushing in the centre; the flavour bolstered by the convoying treats.

On the aspect, extra of that romesco accompanied, current alongside fried potato segments, acerbic aioli and 4 croquettes harbouring further morcilla: firmer than in the wellington, rampant with pepper, flippantly breaded and fried. Insalubriously decadent: carnal, virtually. To conclude dinner, The Spouse of Tub’s bitter chocolate tart is joined by Sevillano olive oil, tamed by rock salt from Folkestone (£6.75). Raisin ice cream, however, is made in home and soaked with toothsome Pedro Ximinez (£7).

The Wife of Bath 'Bitter Chocolate Tart, Sevilano Olive Oil, Folkestone Salt'. Wye Kent

The Spouse of Tub’s ‘Bitter Chocolate Tart, Sevilano Olive Oil, Folkestone Salt’.

Along with lunch and dinner, breakfast can also be served for lodge visitors. Right here, the Spanish menu affect continues with a selection of varied dishes, together with an ascetic hamper of croissants, granola and fruit to be loved in mattress. Within the eating room, nevertheless, breakfast dishes embrace the likes of a ‘Full Spanish’ breakfast, that includes a Spanish omelette, chorizo and Padron peppers. Eggs are additionally served in a number of types, plus savoury (barely heavy for breakfast) chorizo and Manchego scones with a sauce of candy purple pepper and escorting Padron peppers blistered on the grill and dressed with a torrent of salt.

With a lot nationwide consideration on Kent’s restaurant scene, at current – notably from a London-based perspective – The Spouse of Tub is an thrilling addition to the Backyard of England’s cornucopia of noteworthy eating places; an idyllic base for a weekend escape from London.

The Spouse of Tub might be discovered at four Higher Bridge St, Wye, Ashford TN25 5AF. 01233 812232. Double rooms are priced from £75 to £140, together with breakfast. Christmas bookings at the moment are open by way of

Transport: The Spouse of Tub is a nine-minute stroll from Wye practice station, with a common service to London (St. Pancras Worldwide, by way of Ashford Worldwide).

Additional info on The Spouse of Tub could be discovered right here.