Sunday Roast. I’m British and yet the thought of a roast dinner fills me with something akin to dread. I married a man who feels exactly the same as me, which is good as when Sunday rolls around I never feel the weight of any expectation to spend hours in a kitchen slogging over creating non-lumpy gravy and praying that my Yorkshires have risen. There is just something about them; I don’t like having a huge amount of food on my plate, I don’t like the overcooked vegetables and stodge.
Anyway this blog is not here for me to wail about what I don’t like. What my OH and I have had to accept is that our families love Sunday Roast dinners, and we love them, so compromise has to be found. Therefore, many moons ago, I asked on my social media accounts where people felt the best place for Sunday Lunch in Kent was. I got many (I mean I say many but this blog is quite new and I have to accept that my posts don’t get quite as much traction as I would hope) anyway I got a few responses and one of them was The Kentish Hare. I had a look online and liked the look of the menu and it was nice and close to where my Papa and sister live and thus a booking was made.
After a quick walk in the countryside and a look in the beautiful and quirky local church (the joys of your Dad being a retired vicar) we arrived at the warm and cosy Kentish Hare – it’s a lovely feeling after being out in the grey. Our table wasn’t quite ready when we got there but there was a nice little nook by the fire where some drinks were bought over to us before we were led to our table.
I love the dining space here – the tables aren’t crammed together and you have plenty of space and although it was very busy when we got there the acoustics of the place mean that the noise level is at a low rumble rather than being shouty! You can see the kitchen from where you are sitting and the pile of golden crispy Yorkshire puddings looked incredibly appetising, even to me!
On a Sunday they do a very simple menu with 6 choices for starter, main and puddings plus an option for nibbles and a selection of steaks – both for additional cost. Three course is just under £27.00 and I never mind having a smaller selection of options to choose from. I think there was a bit less of a choice for my sister who is a vegetarian – might be nice if they did an extra choice of main for veggies just to add a bit of variation – even if it was just an option of a lovely nut roast – who doesn’t love a nut roast?!
Three of us lacked any kind of imagination (!) and went for the soup – it was nice and creamy but lacked and real taste unless you stirred in the curry oil. Personally, I would have liked the oil to have a bit more of a kick because parsnips can be pretty bland and sweet without some flavour. By far the highlight was the Marmite butter that they served with the bread (at a request). A culinary fad that I seem to be seeing more and more on menus these days but one that I can’t ever roll my eyes at because I love Marmite and I love butter! So combined I am in my element.
Elsewhere on the table Mr A had the whipped goats cheese – again another menu item I seem to be seeing more and more – whipped cheese. I had a small taste of the beetroot which was as lovely as beetroot is. I’m not a lover of goat cheese so I left that well alone. He did say a couple of bits of toasted bread would have made the dish a bit more accomplished and I agree. There was a bit too much soft texture on the plate.
My non vegetarian sister when for the ham hock terrine and whilst I didn’t get to try any of it she seemed to enjoy it and it looked great!
Onto the mains and this was the highlight of the meal for me. Not being a roast dinner lover (not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet!), I went for the market fish of the day which was Halibut. I’m so pleased I did as it was a stunning dish; simple in its concept but put together really well and beautifully cooked. Almost translucent in places fish, buttery potatoes, slightly bitter, bright green kale leaves and a light, buttery sauce speckled with punchy capers. It was perfect. It wasn’t quite what it said it was going to be on the menu but I really didn’t mind as it was great!
Two of the family went for the roasts – the pork and the beef – I think the beef won out on what looked and tasted the best. Generous portions of vegetables and gravy were served alongside – I loved the inclusion of the slightly more unusual roasted beetroot. The gravy was filled of meat juices which is lovely although not great if you don’t like lamb – it was very lamby gravy. I’m not sure if lamby is a word but it’s the best way I can describe it!
Mr A went for the Fish and Chips and I have to confess was rather disappointed by the size of the fish. It was pretty small I’ll be honest but was very well cooked and served with really tasty mushy peas and nice crunchy fries. I just think a bit more of it would have been appreciated!
My vegetarian sister (maybe this is how I should start to refer to her going forward!) had the cauliflower – although to be fair this was her only option. The perils of being a vegetarian?! It’s a pretty plate of food and looks good though she was grateful for the extra veg she could get from my Dad and sister, so I think again it was a little on the small size.
I should probably address here the fact that some of the portion sizes were small. However I have to realise we are a family of big appetites and actually when you are having three courses it’s probably a good thing that we never felt over stuffed after a course! I think the majority of people visiting here would find the portion sizes perfectly adequate!
Probably one of my favourite things about marriage is that your husband is more likely to share puddings with you. This meant I got to have the cheeseboard and the posset. The cheeseboard with a really good selection of cheese, the poacher being a favourite of mine. What it didn’t need was bread as part of the board – I’d already had bread as part of my starter and I never understand the need for bread once you have had your mains – it’s too heavy. I think they would be much better off giving some more crackers and maybe some nice slices of Kentish apples!
The lemon posset was a good posset – it’s not really a dessert that can be mucked up easily. I think the nut crumble and clementines were nice additions which lifted a pretty basic dessert to something a bit more.
Elsewhere around the table more cheese was ordered plus some ice cream (my Dad loves an ice cream) but it was my sister who smashed it with the chocolate brownie. It looked so good… too good to share obviously but I had food envy for sure.
Service at the restaurant was really good, if a little slow at times and we had a couple of mistakes with our drinks order – I think our waiter was pretty new! But it really didn’t matter as all in all it was a really relaxed, comfortable dining experience with really good, fresh food at a very affordable price. It’s perfect for a Sunday Roast dinner, especially for those who have people in their families who don’t like them.
As I mentioned before the bill was £26.95 per person which with wine (and gin and port…) came to more like £40.00 per person. It’s a great place, we will be back!
Kentish Hare, 95 Bidborough Ridge, Bidborough