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£50 - £79
85 London Road, Tunbridge Wells, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1EA
Once home to Victorian writer and satirist William Makepeace Thackeray, this “Tunbridge Wells institution” makes an immediate impact with its all-white, New England exterior. Inside, it’s beautifully maintained with glowing lamps, muted colours and exuberantly furnished private rooms – a smart backdrop for some meticulously crafted modern French cooking. There’s plenty of creativity on show here, although it never goes over the top – witness a tantalising starter of poached lobster with chilled ‘white tomato broth, sorrel and smoked haddock mousse. After that, you might go for dry-aged beef fillet, roast salt marsh lamb or pot-roast guinea fowl with Brighton Blue cheese macaroni, Kentish asparagus, broad beans and baby artichokes. To finish, try the apple mousse paired with blackberries, a tonka-bean flapjack and green apple sorbet. The tasting menu is “an adventure into the unknown (in a good way)”, the sommelier “deserves a pat on the back” for his astute wine pairings, and there’s a gorgeous Japanese terrace garden for fine days – no wonder readers say it’s “well worth the trip out of London”.
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£30 - £49
Shoppenhangers Road, Maidenhead, Maidenhead, SL6 2PZ
The privately owned Fredrick’s Hotel (the Losel family have been here for over two decades) deals in text-book glossy hotel surrounds, impeccable service, and a posh restaurant with prices to match. The upmarket carte may include pig’s trotters with sauce ravigotte & medallions of veal with a sweetbread crust and fresh morels, but there’s also cream of asparagus soup and supreme of chicken with fried scampi orientale for more traditional home counties tastes. ‘Fredrick’s Sweet’ rounds it all up nicely. A lovely patio is made for those hot summer evenings with a winter garden for the rest of the year.
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