As a new feature to the Eye, we will be reviewing the town’s restaurants and pub food throughout 2021. To make a start we visited two restaurants, at the higher end of the spectrum, just before the second lockdown began. We allocated an overall score out of a maximum of 5 stars.
(Apologies for the poor quality images - both restaurants had subdued lighting and being amateurs we didn't use a proper camera!)
The Dove, Dargate
Just a short taxi journey from Faversham is the Dove, a gem of a pub/restaurant. The pub has changed hands several times over the last decade with varying levels of success but since the summer of 2018 it has been run by a fantastic young pair, Head Chef William Shenow-Brady and Manager Sophie Webb. In 2019 it was voted Shepherd Neame’s ‘Best Food Pub’ and it comes ‘highest rated’ in the Tripadvisor’s restaurants in
and around Faversham.
Broccoli and Kentish Blue Cheese soup
This was our last supper, squeezed in the night before Lockdown 2. On arrival we were warmly greeted by Sophie and her team and seated at our table. The interior still has the feel of a traditional pub but it has been decked out to a high standard. The service was excellent, with our drink orders taken and delivered promptly. Although this is a Shepherd Neame pub, they have a great selection of quality wine. Their White Rioja for just £18 a bottle was particularly delicious.
Loin of venison Carpaccio, parmesan crisps, blackberries, pickled onions and mushroom ketchup
From beginning to end the food was a delight. A selection of handmade, freshly baked bread rolls soon appeared at our table and were too delicious to resist. An amuse-bouche of crispy belly pork and an oriental apple and leaf salad was just the start of our food journey. Our table of five sampled just about every dish on the menu and couldn’t fault any of them! Particular highlights were the ‘Loin of venison carpaccio, parmesan crisps, blackberries, pickled onions, mushroom ketchup and rocket’ starter. The venison was melt-in-the-mouth and was complimented beautifully by the accompaniments. The lamb and chicken mains were excellent but the star of the show was the ‘Pan fried hake in coconut curry sauce served with an onion bhaji and pilaf rice’. The fish was cooked to perfection, the sauce was delicately spiced and not at all overpowering, and the crispy bhaji had a nicely contrasting crispy texture.
Pan fried hake in coconut curry sauce served with an onion bhaji
For the sake of the article we tried all the desserts and again could find no fault. The ‘Apple, pear and hazelnut bakewell tartlet with vanilla chantilly’ was very popular. The pastry was so light and crumbly it melted in the mouth and the filling was to die for. The ‘Sticky ginger sponge pudding with ginger beer syrup, marinated pineapple with clotted cream’ was also a great take on a traditional dish.
Sticky ginger sponge pudding ginger beer syrup marinated pineapple clotted cream
A three-course dinner is priced at £44.50 but was worth every penny. All in all, the whole experience was a culinary delight and cannot be faulted (apart from one of our party struggling with the menu being aligned to the right instead of the left!).
Apple pear and hazelnut bakewell tart vanilla chantilly
Overall rating: 5 stars
Note: The Dove is currently offering a takeaway menu
The Quay, Conduit Street
This is a new venture set up by Tania Bourne and Nicky Martin, the previous tenants of the Carriage Restaurant. Originally the Swan and Harlequin pub, but known by most locals as the Coal Exchange, the building has gone through more incarnations on the way. It is a restaurant, bar (with cocktails on offer) and also offers eight ‘boutique’ hotel rooms. The building and interior have been renovated to a very high standard. They are obviously aiming for the high-end market but does the food/experience deliver?
The ambience in the Quay was excellent – it was buzzy, the tables were well spaced out, the chairs were comfortable, it felt luxurious. After some confusion over the wines (the waitresses could do with a bit more training), we were soon presented with our drinks. One of the main plus points compared with the Carriage is that they now have an independent wine list and not held back by the limited selection of Sheps wine.
Beetroot cured sea trout
The menu consisted of five starters and seven mains with a higher-end price point than you may be used to seeing in Faversham – around £7 for a starter and £12 to £18 for a main. We ordered a wide selection of dishes to get a good idea of what’s on offer. Despite the fact that Nicky is a bit of a cricketer, the dishes arrived without spin. The starters were excellent, particularly the ‘Stour Valley wood pigeon breast, pear and walnut salad’ and the ‘Beetroot seared sea trout with rocket and celeriac remoulade’. The slow-cooked belly of pork main was also excellent and the crackling was no problem even for an old and incomplete set of teeth! The carrot and parsnips were cooked whole, with a bit of stalk on them, just as they’d come out of the ground. However, the roast cod loin, though cooked to perfection, was not the freshest – it had a slight taste of ammonia. Vegetarians were not particularly well catered for with only one main available – ‘Curried cauliflower, lightly spiced lentils, coconut cream’. The consensus was that the puddings didn’t quite match the other courses and we sampled all of them!
A great feature of the menu is that they have sourced their food from local suppliers, such as Stour Valley Game, Samsons Fruit and Veg and Hinxden Farm Dairy.
It is worth bearing in mind that we visited the Quay only a few weeks after it had opened and with Covid restrictions in place. Once they have settled in, we feel this will be an excellent addition to our town’s eateries.
Overall: the front of house needs some work but food was pretty good. 3 star rating but raising to art least 4 when they’ve had time to settle in.
Note: The Quay is currently offering a takeaway menu.