Mid-Kent Living’s Dawn Kingsford runs her eye over the menus and meal plans at some of the Kent restaurants who have something special to offer...

Light bites

The Pepperbox Co-licensees Sarah Pemble and daughter Sophie are celebrating a diamond anniversary this year at the Pepperbox Inn in Harrietsham.

A Turkish delight in the centre of Maidstone

The bottom end of the High Street in Maidstone may not be the most lavish area of the town centre – but there truly is a gem hidden down there, in both name and nature. The Gem of Kent is a real Turkish delight, offering an authentic eastern Mediterranean experience. “There is more to Turkish food than

just kebabs and chips,” they say. “It is centuries of tradition and heritage passed down through the generations. “Gem of Kent employs the best chefs

It represents six decades and three

generations of the same family running a traditional British pub which has, in recent times, won a great reputation for brilliant food. Although it was still called The

Horseshoes in 1958, the locals always knew it as the “Pepperbox”, a name given to a 19th century pistol. Back then, they were drawn by good beer – it is currently a Shepherd Neame pub – decent food, warm hosts and a large inglenook fireplace. Today, as well as Neame ales, there is a popular menu. Regulars rave about the slow

roasted pork belly, rump of lamb, fried calves liver and the steak and kidney pudding. Prices range from around £13 to £16 for the main courses. Call 01622 842558 to book a table. Open Monday to Saturday 11am -3pm with food served 12-2.15pm. It opens again from 6pm- 11pm, food served 6.45-9.45pm. Sunday opening: 12-4.30pm, food served 12-3pm.

The Hengist It is four years since its extensive

renovation was completed - and The Hengist in Aylesford keeps going from strength to strength. Tucked away in the village on the

outskirts of Maidstone, the 16th century building still has a number of its original features and timber beams. But the food could not be further

away from the building it has served in - modern, hearty and best of all, incredibly tasty.

and offers the finest foods so that hopefully you too will see that there is more than meets the eye.” And it’s true - the main courses are a

staggeringly mouthwatering list, from Tavuk Sote – a diced chicken dish cooked with white wine, thyme, mushrooms, onion, pepper, tomato and garlic – to

The confit duck leg is outstanding, as is the Home Countries lamb rump, but in truth it’s a struggle to go wrong with anything on the menu.

Iskender, a blend of minced lamb with onion, parsley and paprika, which comes to you in a tomato sauces with bread, yoghurt and melted butter. The strong marinated flavours of the grilled meat are so tempting that they even have the option to have an additional grilled meat on the side for an extra £4.95. A mixed grill platter is the perfect sharing main, while there are also fish and vegetarian options. And, unless you ask for them, there’s

not a chip in sight. There are set menus too, with one

of them - at £29.95 per person - even offering unlimited house wine and beer alongside seven mezze dishes to share, a main course and a desert. Forget the “elephant leg” – it’s all about the class at the Gem of Kent.

the fish, the ambience, in my opinion couldn’t be faulted. Lenham was pretty much off our radar over the last few years. Not any more!” Excellent Food, even better service …

A Chateaubriand is also available for

two, and with monthly gin nights too, the Hengist should definitely be on your foodie to-do list. Food is served 10-3 and 6-9 Monday

to Thursday, from 8-9.30 on Fridays and Saturdays and 8-5 on Sundays. The bar is open until 11pm Monday to Thursday, until 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday and 7pm on Sundays. Call 01622 885800.

The Square Fish Café If it is fresh seafood you fancy, in a charming village setting, then look no further than The Square Fish Café in Lenham. Earning full marks on Tripadvisor, as

excellent or very good, reviewers write: Fantastic … “Popped in here for lunch on a Saturday, great selection of seafood and fish. Service, quality of

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“Excellent food, sharing platter to start in particular was really good. Service really friendly, made a fuss over my Nan as we were celebrating her 86th birthday which really made her day!” The transformation of The Square’s Chequers Fish Bar into the Square Fish Café has been a long-held ambition of owner, Maz. He credits its success to good service and fresh local produce. He says: “The fish bar has been a landmark in the heart of Lenham for over 17 years. As a family-run business we have been delighted to develop our offer into a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily fish specials and traditional Greek dishes. It’s about fresh, humble ingredients combined to create tasty wholesome dishes.”

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