Updown Farmhouse

Gold Award

SquareMeal Review of Updown Farmhouse

Gold Award

Stepping into Updown’s manicured gardens feels a bit like intruding on a private soiree at someone’s very lovely country home. We imagine this was the effect that owners Ruth Leigh and Oli Brown had in mind when they set out to restore the 17th-century building, together creating a rustic oasis in the heart of Kent that’s somewhere between a home-from-home and a magical fairyland.  

The restaurant has been resurrected in the barn opposite the farmhouse, with the doors flung open in the summer to unite the front ‘patio’ with the main space. Inside, trailing ivy weaves across the structure’s thick wooden beams, while terracotta plant pots, distressed hanging lanterns and red brick walls have the effect of bringing the garden inside. It's absurdly beautiful. 

This ode to the English countryside is reflected in a seasonal, monthly-changing menu. We start with pizzetta fritta, all puffed up and crisp, and piled high with jammy fried courgettes, creamy ricotta and fresh mint. As if on cue, one of the chefs pops into the garden to collect more herbs for the kitchen, a real time preview of garden-to-table dining.  

Things go from very good to outstanding. Soft, torn chunks of mozzarella on a bed of wilted greens are seasoned with salty, shrivelled olives and good olive oil, while a plate of lobster tagliolini swimming in a flavoursome tomato and basil sauce is rich and cheesy. Mains include a beautiful piece of torched mackerel with rhubarb, chilli and more of that mint, but the real star is a vegetarian number: a magnificent taleggio and new potato tart smothered in verdant pesto, delicate asparagus and served with what can only be described as a cheesy hollandaise.  

There's a considered French and Italian wine list with the cheapest bottle starting from £27, and about four cocktails, including a wonderful Spring Spritz the colour of fresh peaches that's finished with a fresh orange slice and a green olive.  

Updown offers a romanticised view of country life, and we're more than willing to give up reality to be a part of it.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cosy, Luxury, Romantic, Traditional, Unique
Other Awards
SquareMeal UK Top 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace
Special Features
Vegetarian options
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions


With two experienced hospitality experts at its helm, Updown is destined to be a success. Ruth Leigh and her partner Oli Brown have launched their restaurant with rooms after a considerable restoration project. Ruth is the daughter of Rowley Leigh – the man often accredited with ‘inventing’ modern British cookery – while chef Oli previously headed up Duck Duck Goose in London, a modern Cantonese restaurant.

The pair set their sights on transforming their 17th century Grade-II listed farmhouse into a small hotel and restaurant. The accommodation includes seven rooms spread across the main house and a handful of outbuildings, as well as two separate cottages.

Oli heads up the kitchen while Ruth manages front of house. The pair have together curated a short but carefully considered menu of Italian-leaning dishes that use local ingredients from the best of Kent’s suppliers. Meat comes from award-winning The Black Pig butcher and fishmonger Jenkins and Sons provides the seafood. While dishes flex with the seasons, the kinds of things you can expect include raw sea bass with almonds and cherries or grilled lamb chump with broad beans, artichokes and bagna cauda – a warm sauce made from garlic and anchovies.

Food is served al fresco, at the hotel’s outdoor restaurant found under a pergola that is shaded by hanging vines and wisteria. Those worried about the impact of the British weather on their meal needn’t be, there are roaring open fires to keep guests cosy on cooler nights. To one side of the dining area there’s an outdoor kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work as they cook each meal to order on the open bakers’ oven.

The drinks list is similarly curated with a short but sharp billing of cocktails and local wines, as well as bottles sourced from further afield in France and Italy.


Can you stay the night?

Yes, there are several guest rooms available to book.

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Do I need to book?

Booking is advised - you can book via the phone or the website.

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Updown Farm, Updown Road, Deal, Kent, CT14 OEF

07842 244 192 07842 244 192


Opening Times

Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:00-16:00
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 18:00-22:00
Thu 18:00-22:00
Fri 18:00-22:00
Sat 18:00-22:00
Sun Closed


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07842 244 192 07842 244 192

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