Not your average school dinner! The Artisan, Tonbridge, 8 March 2018

Yesterday was International School Meals Day - who knew?!  That's what you get when you buy a social media planner for your business.  But it is so apt for today's blog which is all about The Artisan at West Kent College in Tonbridge.  My friends and I were excited to try this place, squirreled away at the top of the main college building and we were not disappointed.  

 
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The restaurant is a training restaurant for chefs, kitchen staff and waiting staff - from taking your booking, to creating your meal, to delivering your bill, you're looked after by people learning the trade 'on the job'.  As a result, they're all trying really hard to deliver excellent food and great customer service, their efforts evident throughout.  

 
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The menu was varied and the food delicious - I've listed out the menu below but here are my thoughts on what I ate...  

  • I had the ham hock to start which was melt-in-the-mouth tasty and the confit egg yolk was superb. The piccalilli let the dish down a little, for me, by being quite over-powering - but still I ate the lot!

  • The char grilled halloumi was really good! It was a very generous portion, and I've never had halloumi as soft - the tangy sides and especially the pineapple were a great addition.

 
First pf the season English lamb

First pf the season English lamb

 
  • I went for the veggie main as I was intrigued by the chestnut and brie croquette and it didn't disappoint. The sides were a little disappointing with this one but luckily the croquettes over compensated.

  • Desserts - you're served two!!! Now I'm not really a chocolate pud fan but the chocolate ganache nearly converted me and I don't really like clotted cream, but again my head was turned by the combination with the caramelised peaches. The honey was a little too sweet but the overall effect with the edible flowers was beautiful and looked very professional. Definitely not a school dinner as I remember them.

The service was excellent - yes there was the occasional glitch but I mean occasional and let's face it, they're all learning.    

I really want to emphasise how impressed we all were: we had a great evening of food, sipping Biddenden Vineyard's Gribble Bridge Rose along the way and we loved chatting to the waiting staff.  We all said that we would return and at £20 for five courses, the price certainly won't put us off.   

This is a school dinner that Jamie Oliver definitely needs to try. 

Experience Ingredients

In the group: 3

Consumption & cost: 3 x 5 course meals at £20 each + 3 bottle of rose wine + 2 bottles of still water = £97.25, excl. service charge.

Menu in full

Ham hock terrine or tomato and basil terrine with confit egg yolk, pea puree, chai spiced granola and sweet piccalilli

Grilled squid or char grilled halloumi with char grilled pineapple, lemon grass and pickled ginger salsa

First of the season English rack of lamb or chestnut and brie croquette with red pepper coulis, wild garlic potato puree, baby turnip, carrot and white wine jus

Chocolate ganache, pistachio, ginger cake and fruits of the forest berry sorbet

Caramelised peaches, clotted cream, honey, lavender and pastry crisp