Leeds Castle Restaurant - The Great British Kitchen
I wanted somewhere quite special to take my other half for dinner for his 30th birthday. After extensively researching restaurants in the area, I gave up. Many of the restaurants in Kent that I perused looked really nice and their menus were making me hungry. A couple of weeks later something popped up on my news feed in Facebook about there being a restaurant in Leeds Castle. Perfect, I booked it - Leeds Castle is pretty special.
For those that don’t know, Leeds Castle, located just outside of Maidstone in Kent, funnily enough in a little village called Leeds, is described as the ‘loveliest castle in the world’. It’s a statement I wouldn’t disagree with. It really is a truly breath-taking venue and one that offers a really special day (or evening) out.
The Leeds Castle restaurant is called ‘The Great British Kitchen’ and offers a modest selection of traditional and indulgent British classics.
You enter by the Broomfield Road entrance (which for those who visit regularly, know that this isn’t the main entrance, it’s the back entrance). We did have a little bit of trouble finding where the restaurant was located, but we followed a chap in an apron (presumably one of the chefs) and he pointed us in the right direction. The restaurant is set on the first floor and is a glorious beamed building, boasting views across the moat and the Castle.
When we arrived, we were seated at a table right next to the window that overlooks that beautiful view of the Castle and wow did we pick an amazing night to come. It was one of those long, hot summer days, where the sky turns to burnt orange, followed by a vibrant pink, then melts into gold and finally those gorgeous shades of inky blue, before the evening draws to a close and you are left with the lit-up outline of the castle. I did rush outside a few times to take some photos of the castle against the skyline. Luckily there was a door in the main seating area which lead out to a terrace so I could snap a few shots without leaving my other half alone for too long on his birthday treat. He knows I have a thing for taking pictures of amazing skylines, with a view to printing them on canvases, to display around our home.
Anyway, back to the dining experience. We placed our orders for starters. Me, beetroot and wild estate elderflower compression goats cheese fondant, blueberries and blackcurrant puree and my other half, a confit of wild salmon with Wye Valley asparagus and wild estate horseradish cream.
The starters arrived and they were delicious. I must admit, I was slightly jealous of my other half’s salmon when it arrived, but he did let me try it and it was cooked to perfection. My goats’ cheese fondant was lovely tasting, perhaps a little heavy for a fondant (although I’m not a fondant expert) but it went really well with the fruity puree. I also glanced over at the couple behind us, they’d gone for the roasted wild wood pigeon and this looked nice too.
On to mains and in traditional Great British style, we ordered Shepherd Pie (me) and Fish and Chips (him).
The Shepherd’s Pie was shoulder meat, braised for 16 hours and was so tender that a baby could have chewed it. It was nestled with peas and small chopped carrots and topped with a creamy mash and a rather indulgent layer of cheese. I never put cheese on our Shepherd’s Pie so this was extra naughty/nice. The pie was served with seasonal veg.
The cod was beer battered and served with hand cut chips, pea puree and home-made tartar sauce. The batter was light and fluffy and the chips crispy the way we like them (of course I had try a bit of it too!)
The mains were really scrummy, so much so I dreamt that night that I ate my Shepherd’s Pie again and I woke up feeling full up and satisfied. Funny what you dream eh!
There was a lovely selection of Great British desserts, I was too full to even entertain ordering one, but my other half didn’t want to miss out (it was his birthday after all), so he ordered the dark chocolate fondant which came with chocolate soil, honeycomb, marshmallow and lemon jelly. I was really sceptical of the lemon jelly, but I did try a little of each of the elements on the dessert and they were all really good. The jelly surprisingly did work against all the other elements on the plate.
As we were finishing up our drinks and paying the bill, one of the lovely waiters came out with a little birthday surprise. He presented my other half with a cupcake on a plate with a birthday message written in chocolate. What a lovely touch. I had just mentioned in passing that it was his birthday, just a throwaway comment about it and they had gone to such lovely lengths to make it extra special. Wow!
The service was outstanding all night and that lovely touch at the end made it even more magical. We couldn’t eat the cake (not surprising after all those delicious courses) but they did box the cake up for him to take it home.
We left feeling like we had found a very special place and that they had helped us make a memory of his 30th birthday that would sit fondly in our minds for many years to come. Would we go back? That’s a big Great British yes. There’s not many places that tick all those boxes.
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