“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Secret Pantry

A couple of years ago I told you all about Zest, a very nice cafe/restaurant in Manor Row in Tenterden (click the links here and here.). Well, a while back we noticed that Zest had closed its doors, and the scuttlebutt around town suggested that they were refurbishing and planning to reopen. Which was a good thing, because I really liked their "Market Day Special" breakfast. It was one of those un-advertised, only-for-those-in-the-know kind of deals, and I only knew about it because I had signed up to be on their email list. It was only available on Friday mornings (market day) and you had to ask for it by name (it wasn't on the menu). What you got for £2.99 (a steal!!) was egg, bacon, sausage, beans, hash brown, mushrooms and tomatoes. What a deal, and perfect after a morning's shopping.

Anyway, sadly, Zest is no longer. Instead in its place is The Secret Pantry. I thought I'd better try this place and give it a fair shake. I really wanted to go to HunnyBeez on that day but the day being two days after Xmas, HunnyBeez were taking a well earned break and four doors down was The Secret Pantry.

Inside the layout has changed somewhat. The walls are now white, and so is a lot o the furniture, and the carpet is a pale colour, so the place looks very spacious, light and open.

The menu has changed too but it's very similar in content to Zest's, just a bit more upmarket in terms of language, presentation and price wise also. You can still get freshly made sandwiches or baked potatoes with all the trimmings for around the £6 mark, but Laura and I tried the Fisherman's Platter for £12.95 which worked out about the same. It was, I have to say, really good. If I had one quibble it's that they do what most places seem to do these days with salad. Too heavy on the rocket (that's arugula for you Yanks) and not enough baby spinach. I like rocket, don't get me wrong - just not enough to overdose on the stuff. Plus, I like my salads to have a higher ratio of crunchy munchy stuff like tomato, celery, red onion etc to leaves. Too many leaves just does not work for me, which is why I never liked salads in school dinners, because it was mostly wet lettuce.

However, the seafood and the coleslaw were most excellent. There came with it a big basket of crusty delicious bread, but I had to ask for butter. What gives?

 I used to love Zest for its free coffee refills, but that has gone bye-bye with the Pantry, as has the nice large cups. I had a black coffee here and it was gone in three or four gulps, with no refill available. Laura sensibly opted for a pot of tea, which was very cool-looking and of course gave her more than one cup. Trouble is I am not a big fan of tea.

All in all I like the place and believe it deserves a chance. The food quality is great and the staff are pleasant enough, if a little inattentive. So for food I give it a four out of five and overall I think a three and a half out of five due to the staff not really giving 100% and the prices being a little, well, pricey.

Kooshti sante!

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