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|Address:||32 Eyhorne Street ME17 1TR|
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HAVING taken a Michelin star back to his Thackeray’s restaurant at Tunbridge Wells after a seven year absence, Richard Phillips is probably having one of his best years as a chef patron.
Kent born and bred, Phillips’ fame extends outside the kitchen and on to our TV screens as one of the many ‘celebrity chefs’ plying their trade on daytime and prime-time schedules.
And his portfolio of properties in his home county is growing too; a list which includes The Pearson’s Arms in Whitstable, The Hengist in Maidstone and The Windmill at Hollingbourne.
And it was the latter which drew my attention on a visit to the charming village.
With black beams and white walls, it is very in keeping with the current trend of gastro pubs.
The changing lunch menus are penned on brown paper scrolls hanging from the ceiling making a creative change to the modern classic blackboards and chalk.
On a Wednesday evening, it was far from full, yet a centrally located bar gives it a buzz and atmosphere.
We were greeted at the table with a metal pie tin filled with salmon and dill mousse on melba toast, compliments of the chef.
It was delightfully light and, like the traditional on-the-house bread basket, always gratefully received. To start I opted for the Cornish crab and pickled raddish salad, served with avocado, and peanut dressing on toasted brioche; an excellent summer starter.
My guest went for the Weald smoked duck breast, crisp pancetta, poached grapes and confit duck egg.
The complex but delcious entree offered a further example of creative presentation as the breast arrived in tightly curled rolls and were designed to be dipped in the perfectly cooked runny duck egg.
Onto the main course and I chose a succulent roasted loin of Charing pork which came wrapped in cured ham.
It was presented with salsify, cumin seeded carrots and spring onions covered in honey, mustard and Kentish rapeseed dressing.
It sat on top of a bed of spinach which soaked up the juices of the meat and dressing – making for a dish bursting with flavour.
My guest went for the pub’s deal of the day – the Windmill burger and drink for £10.
Arriving on a piece of wood, the burger came with home made chunky chips and burger sauce; a far cry from the more intricate dishes, but satisfactory, none-the-less.
For dessert I chose an artistic white chocolate cheese cake served with mango sorbet, blackberries and honeycomb. Again it was excellent and really added a melt in mouth end to the meal.
My guest went for a traditional peach melba with raspberry purree and vanilla ice cream.
The total bill, with a couple of drinks, came to £70.25. The Windmill’s mix of classic pub grub with fine dining offers its visitors something well above what is fast becoming the “gastro pub”tedium.