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Tasting the Spring Menu at the White Lion in Tenterden

Every time I venture into the Weald of Kent to Tenterden I like it a little more than the time before, there’s always something new you missed the last time you went. It’s a town situated either side of a pretty tree lined road; a place of antiques shops, cafes serving local artisanal food and some interesting independent clothes shops. It has a farmer’s market every Friday 9.30-2pm and well frequented Waitrose.

I’ve known the White Lion pub for years, its situated on the high Street, set back slightly with seating out the front in anticipation of the sunshine. The last time I went into The White Lion we were celebrating the completion of a set of exams so its fair too say its been a while for us both and things have certainly changed.

When a pub offers good food, and the White Lion does offer good food, it can be tempting to turn the entire pub into restaurant but we were pleased to see that this was not the case, as we were greeted with a sizeable area dedicated to those just wanting a drink. We were ushered into a welcoming dining space, all wood tones, bold fashionable colours and mismatching furniture. I liked it immediately.

The White Lion has grown somewhat of a reputation for serving good steak and stone baked pizzas but as we were dining out on the Spring Equinox, it seemed appropriate to go for Spring dishes, and so we did.

It was great to have input from my mother as we tasted various dishes on the menu, her palate is very sensitive and she has an eye for detail being a seasoned cook herself.

We tried the Spring salad which was a light but vibrant mix of orange segments, spring leaves, onion and avocado. The perfect dish if you don’t want anything too heavy. We also tried the Burrata and Prosciutto on sourdough because, well, I’m unable to pass by any quality mozzarella derivatives without tasting them. It was good: I could have eaten more of the burrata but perhaps that says more about me than the dish!

The starters were complimented beautifully by a glass of Chapel Down Flintdry, a mineraly dry white with herbaceous notes that cleaned the palate between bites.

We moved on to try the Sea Bass which had been skillfully pan fried so the meat was tender but the skin was crisp, it was served on a provencal sauce with lovely salty squeaky samphire. The triple cooked sweet potato chips were insanely flavoursome with a perfect crunch and just the right balance of seasoning to enhance the natural flavours. Far too moreish!

I went for the duck which was served with a red wine sauce, roasted purple carrots and a carrot puree. It was accompanied by an old Winchester cheese croquette, which always makes me nervous, I have memories from school of those salty little orange logs that called themselves croquets, but this was a very distant and far more regal cousin, clearly handmade and perfect golden crisp in the outside and soft, rich and cheesy in the middle.

It wasn’t a quick meal but the staff were excellent, attending quickly to everything we needed. It’s worth remembering that good food always takes time to cook from fresh. We noticed that there was a light bites menu on the table which would have suited those needing a faster turnaround.

We ran out of space for a pudding so we both plumped for a coffee which was presented with a piece of fudge which was crumbly and well balanced butter to sugar ratio, which was the perfect finish to the meal.

We would certainly recommend the White Lion and we will be back.

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AJ is a food writer, editor and PR.