insideKENT Magazine Issue 49 - April 2016 - Page 56

FOOD+DRINK The Rose and Crown ELHAM It was dark by the time we arrived in the little village of Elham (located about 20 minutes away from both Canterbury and Ashford), but that didn’t mean we couldn’t appreciate the prettiness of the high street, or the gorgeous old Tudor buildings that lined each side. BY LISAMARIE LAMB Having spotted The Rose and Crown Inn, we pulled into the car park and took a moment to take in our surroundings before stepping inside. It was utterly, perfectly delightful. And it hadn’t been too long before that we had been driving down the A2 – what a difference a few miles and some country lanes make. The pub itself is an ancient Grade II listed building that dates back to, in part, the sixteenth century, with the front half having been rebuilt in 1740. It’s not just the age of the building that gives it a history – it’s all the things that have happened within its beam-lined walls as well. Things such as the fact that the building was once a courtroom, the first ever game of bar billiards was played there, Audrey Hepburn herself used to live behind the pub, and Phil Vickery, the celebrity chef, started his career there. Ask landlord Xander anything about the Rose and Crown and he’ll tell you – his passion for his pub is impossible to ignore. The Rose and Crown Inn has enticed some impressive chefs in its time, and current chef Rhys Wilkins is no different. With AA Rosettes to his name and a history of working in Michelinstarred restaurants across the world, Rhys has put a new spin on some classic meals, as well as creating some entirely unfamiliar dishes which make for a surprising menu that utilises the freshest and most local of Kentish ingredients. I’ll admit, we took longer than usual to choose our food. The menu is small but that didn’t make the task any easier with dishes such as garlic roast mushroom with brie and bacon; and stilton and poached pear parfait vying for attention. In the end, we decided on the baked Camembert infused with local honey and rosemary and the smoked salmon, crayfish and freshwater prawn timbale with a crème fraiche and dill dressing. It was a good choice, although I’m certain that anything on the menu would have been just as good. The Camembert was soft and gooey, but the freshly made bread that came with it – and the honey that gave it a real sweet and salty kick – soaked it up nicely. As for the timbale, it was fresh and light and the flavours were astonishingly precise. Main courses were even harder to choose, but I had spotted the specials board through the window and had been tempted by the idea of the Kentish pie of the day which was, on this occasion, pork, rabbit and black pudding. When it came it was pleasing to see that it was a ‘proper pie’ with a base and a lid made of buttery pastry and a filling that really did fill. My partner chose the pan-fried sirloin, hand-cut chips and salad. This was not just any steak – this was a 20 ounce-er and it was cooked as perfectly as could be. Even the smallest details in these meals were taken care of: the grilled 56 tomato that came with the steak, for example, was seasoned. It makes a big difference when it’s clear that the chef cares. Although we were pretty full at this point, we can never resist a pudding. The desserts all sounded incredible, but in the end the crumble (berry and apple) won out, as did the dark chocolate and Amaretto tart with a white chocolate sauce. It came with raspberries too, which assuaged my guilt just a touch. From the welcome we received upon arrival to the friendly service and the unforgettable food, the Rose and Crown Inn at Elham is a pub to be reckoned with. And, if it all gets too much and the journey home isn’t appealing, there are some lovely rooms to stay in too! The Rose & Crown High Street Elham CT4 6TD 01303 840890