In the middle of the Kent countryside, a magnificent 19th century coach house harbours a delicious secret: the Secret Garden, to be exact. On entering the complex you are overtaken by a sense of complete calm. Easily accessible by car, the property is nonetheless far enough away from the main road to prevent the sounds of modern living from intruding upon its unique ambience.

The award-winning restaurant overlooks a traditional walled garden; which with its south-facing terrace is perfect for al fresco dining on warmer days.

The food is superb, whether you’ve come for a light lunch or a la carte evening meal or one of the Secret Garden’s renowned afternoon teas. Wherever possible, food is locally sourced and includes seasonal produce from Kent as well as their own Victorian kitchen garden.

I was glad to see a range of local tipples from both Biddenden and Chapel Down on the wine list, as well as beer from the Shepherd Neame brewery not far away in Faversham. And a large blackboard on the far wall in the restaurant proudly displays a map of Kent along with a list of local suppliers and producers which is a nice touch.

We dined on a week day lunchtime and were pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant was fairly busy. This did not detract from the service, which was helpful and attentive but not overly intrusive. It did however add to the relaxed, convivial atmosphere which made dining at the Secret Garden a real pleasure and one that didn’t feel at all rushed by the staff, as is the case in many establishments these days.

After starting with the rustic bread board and olives we moved on to our starters which comprised of pan seared scallops on toast with cucumber and tomatoes; and a hearty bowl of the soup of the day. For my main dish I chose game of the day; duck breast, which was beautifully cooked and served with onion beignet, baby radishes and wilted spinach. My dining partner chose the beef and Stilton pie which was tasty as well as succulent, and the wonderfully generous portion meant that he struggled to finish the lovely cauliflower gratin which our waiter recommended as an accompaniment.

As a result of this he decided to skip the dessert course, but I didn’t need much persuading to try the set chocolate cheesecake with blackcurrant compote and blackcurrant sorbet which tasted every bit as good as it looked.

The full à la carte menu is available daytime and evenings, with special offers such as three lunch courses for £19.95 making a trip to the Secret Garden an irresistible treat.

If your perfect dining experience involves delicious local foods, great service and a healthy dose of old English charm then book your table at the Secret Garden: one of Kent’s finest hidden treasures. Stephanie and her team certainly made sure that our visit was a pleasant and memorable one and I would have no hesitation in recommending the Secret Garden, whatever the occasion.

Lynn

The Secret Garden

Mersham-le-Hatch Business Village

Hythe Road

Ashford

Kent TN25 6NH


Tel No: 01233 501586


Opening hours:

Sun/Mon 10.00 – 16.00

Tues-Fri 10.00-17.00 and 18.30 onward.


www.secretgardenkent.co.uk/restaurant