My mind is reeling. I’ve just got back from lunch at the Saltwood on the Green, a new restaurant offering Kent a rare taste of simple food, done exquisitely. Set in the picturesque village of Saltwood, just outside Hythe, it is exactly what I would hope for in a neighborhood restaurant: intimate and welcoming, but classy enough that it still feels a bit special.
Chef Jeff Kipp is one of the friendliest, most passionate chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. He poked his head out of the kitchen multiple times throughout our meal to talk to us about what we were eating and what they were trying to achieve at Saltwood on the Green. Originally from the States, Jeff has been working towards opening up his own restaurant in his wife’s native county of Kent for the past several years. As he lives just minutes from the restaurant (formerly the Saltwood general store circa 1900), he and the restaurant are truly part of the village community. And with a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu and experience at some of London’s biggest restaurants, Gordon Ramsey and Duck & Waffle to name a few, this man knows his way around the kitchen.
The menus are mainly a series of lighter dishes. Don’t misunderstand, the serving sizes are still nice. It’s the perfect size to have three or even four – greedy – and walk away pleasantly satisfied rather than rolling out the door in a coma. The food is simple, seasonal and, wherever possible, Kentish. You can have brunch, lunch, nibbles with a cocktail, pastry with a cup of coffee or a full blown dinner with a wine specifically chosen to match what you’re eating (just ask for a recommendation and they’ll be happy to oblige). The cocktail menu mirrors the seasonality of the food menu and both change frequently depending on what’s available and what’s at its peak. So if you see peaches in the white sangria, there’s a good chance you’ll see peaches on the menu. They also hand craft their own tonic syrups which you can have with your choice of gin as either a martini or a g&t.
I had the charred mackerel with pickled cherries and crème fraîche and it was incredible. The mackerel was possibly the best I’ve ever had. Blowtorched so the skin was crisp and the flesh was barely touched, it was tender and lacked that fishiness that oily fish are infamous for. In a word, it was a perfect late summer plate of food.
My friend had the herb gnocchi with summer vegetables and a garlic sauce to die for. The gnocchi were like little clouds that had been crisped up in heaven’s own frying pan. Chef Jeff later told us they were made in the French way; rather than being made of potato, they were made out of something similar to choux pastry which makes them light and fluffy and perfect.
After a few moments’ conversation with Chef Jeff, I promise that you will find it difficult not to just throw your hands up in the air and tell him to have his way with your dinner, knowing full well that anything he brought out would be heaven on a plate. After having been open only a few months, Friday and Saturday nights are already fully booked two weeks in advance. This place is the place to be and I can’t wait to go back for a proper meal to take full advantage of the creativity and passion of the entire team. They say on their website that they’re all about the dining experience and I can say that we definitely felt that was true. The staff care, the chef is interested in talking to the customers and the happy trio, known as the drinks man (Dan), the food man (Jeff) and the people man (Gianpaulo), are there to make sure that you enjoy every minute you are in their care.
Looking for somewhere to eat out in Folkestone? Come try my supper club!