The Rose Hotel & Restaurant, Deal in Kent

At this time of year, when the days are at their shortest, I try to escape London for an English weekend away… preferably somewhere cosy and quaint. Kent is the ideal option, most of the county is just an hour from London on the train with long stretches of beach and a calm friendly feel. Everyone seems to be visiting Margate at the moment, but I urge you to consider Deal, home to The Rose Hotel.

The Rose in Deal

The Rose Hotel, Restaurant and Bar opened in May of this year. The grand building has a significant presence on Deal highstreet, which is otherwise occupied by tiny antique shops and cute cafes. With a history of over 200 years, The Rose has always been a place to get a drink or a night’s stay, but thanks to new owners Christopher Hicks and wife Alex Bagner, it is once again the talk of the town.

The Rose in DealThe Rose in Deal

The eight characterful rooms are each decorated in their own eclectic style… bright headboards, vintage furniture, charming antique details and homely details. We were very happy in Room Nine, the smallest but most colourful, with patterned wallpaper and a bold yellow and pink theme. The bathroom, though small, was perfectly adequate with a powerful walk-in shower and luxurious Austin Austin products.

The Rose in DealThe Rose in Deal

I would also recommend Room Six which is decorated in nostalgic hues of olive green and pale pink. This bedroom features a vintage bathroom suite, mid-century furniture and a vinyl player for the guest’s enjoyment. And for a pretty sage green bathroom with pretty of natural light opt for Room Seven. Every room has something to make it special, different and memorable.

The Rose in Deal

Breakfast was a simple but delicious affair… strong coffee (from Climpson & Sons) and exemplary bacon and buttery eggs from the local butcher. I can also highly recommend the Sunday lunch, a range of hearty plates (from £12-16 for mains) cooked by talented chef Rachel O’Sullivan, who previously worked at the much-celebrated Towpath Cafe in London.

I have no doubt that with the addition of The Rose Hotel, Deal will soon be a favourite weekend destination for stylish British travellers.

More information and book a room at The Rose in Deal here.

Hicce, Coal Drops Yard

Hicce is one of a few new exciting food ventures to open in Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross. Found on the top floor of the Wolf & Badger store, Hicce is the creation of long time friends Pip Lacey and Gordy McIntyre. Pip previously gained experience working with Angela Hartnett at Murano and Gordy has worked for many top restaurant and pub groups.

HicceHicce

At Hicce, Pip uses a specialist holm oak charcoal barbecue to cook the majority of the meat and fish. The dishes showcase the finest seasonal produce and draw inspiration from Pip’s travels. The drinks list features a selection of biodynamic wines, craft beers and creative cocktails, all curated or chosen by Gordy.

Hicce

The whole menu is intended to be shared, but this concept is particularly obvious in the starter section, where diners are encouraged to make up their own cheese and charcuterie board, paired with homemade breads, chutneys and pickles.

From the selection that we chose, I would particularly recommend the Alex cheese (a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a wonderful nutty rich flavour) and the speck meat, which was delicious with the divinely soft and pillowy beer bread. My guest also really enjoyed the Octopus salad, a vibrant dish with generous seafood and zingy fennel and seaweed. Also don’t forget to try a couple of the hot sticks… we liked the Chicken thigh with spicy shiso and crispy chicken skin best.

HicceHicce

The main section of the menu sensibly has only a few options, three of each: meats, fish, vegetables and sides. Easily the best plate was the Brussel sprouts, indulgently fried with hazelnuts and kohl rabi. The texture was satisfyingly crisp and they were delicious dunked in the homemade mayonnaise. The Miso potatoes are also a must from the sides, simple barbecue scorched new potatoes served in a puddle of aromatic sweet melted miso sauce.

I really enjoyed my lamb neck with mojo and tomatoes. The meat had a lovely charred flavour, but the accompanying vegetables were a little lack-lustre, presented as a pile next to the lamb. The Halibut with jerusalem artichokes and trompettes was nice, but considering the special ingredients I expected it to shine more.

Hicce

For dessert we tried Pip’s legendary Creme Caramel with muscovado and the decadent Chilli & Chocolate Tart with Ricotta ice-cream. Neither puddings were exceptional, I liked the creme caramel but found it too sweet and samey, while the chocolate tart would probably have tasted better without the chilli, but I did love the ricotta ice-cream.

It was lovely to try Hicce, and meet the friendly, ambitious team. Though the food wasn’t perfect there is so much potential here, I’m sure they’ll iron out the kinks, and Hicce will become a culinary highlight in King’s Cross’ new Coal Drops Yard.

More information and book a table at Hicce here.

Restaurant 22, Cambridge

I haven’t found many exceptional restaurants in Cambridge, so when my chef friend alerted me to her new favourite, Restaurant 22, I was eager to try it.

Restaurant 22 on Chesterton Road has recently been taken over by Alexandra Olivier and Samuel Carter, a local Cambridge couple with lots of ambition and boundless talent.

Restaurant 22

The charming eatery is found in an elegantly restored Victorian townhouse nearby to the River Cam and Jesus Green.

Chef Samuel Carter has worked in some top kitchens across the country, including Maze in London and Hambleton Hall in Rutland, before settling at the helm of his own restaurant in Cambridge. At Restaurant 22 his regularly changing seasonal menu champions the produce from their Cambridgeshire neighbours.

Restaurant 22

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu when we visited for Saturday lunch. But first, we were treated to a few little snacks… my favourite of which was the whipped goats cheese, fig and almond macaron, a sweet and savoury delight. Then came the bread, pillowy soft brioche with salty whipped chicken fat and heavenly Guinness bread with rich and decadent Guinness butter… completely addictive.

Restaurant 22

Each course was thoughtful and immaculate, to start we had Wood pigeon with pear, celeriac and pine. This game dish was an assortment of comforting Autumnal flavours, beautifully cooked meat with velvety smooth celeriac puree and a wonderfully rich jus.

Restaurant 22Restaurant 22

For the next course we enjoyed Cornish mackerel with kohlrabi, lovage & apple and Jerusalem artichoke risotto. The fish course was fresh and vibrant cold dish, a brilliant contrast of flavours and textures. The risotto was completely different… a steaming hot bowl of deliciousness, with rustic woody flavours of artichoke and sage.

Restaurant 22

The main event was a beautiful plate of Mutton, prepared three ways. The different cuts of meat were paired with aromas of cumin, coriander and curry. Each element was wonderful, but together it was a real joy, I particularly loved the curried meatballs. The friendly restaurant team advised us on drinks, and we enjoyed interesting wines that matched well with the food.

Restaurant 22

After so many successful savoury courses I was concerned that the pastry section may not live up to expectations… but I didn’t need to worry as it was as spectacular as the earlier plates. On the menu it was listed simply as ‘Chocolate, coffee, mascarpone’, which instantly reminded me of tiramisu. A striped chocolate and coffee mousse structure was the most striking element on the plate, accompanied with dark chocolate crumb, coffee gel and burnt white chocolate ice-cream. It was a wonderfully balanced dish, and we demolished it in happy silence.

Restaurant 22

The meal concluded with a wooden box filled with sweet treats… chocolate fudge and fluffy marshmallows. I absolutely loved our meal at Restaurant 22 and can’t wait to return to try more of their culinary creations, definitely a new highlight on the Cambridge restaurant scene.

More information and book a table at Restaurant 22 here.