Not far from Canterbury High Street, in what was formerly a sticky floored boozer, is The Ambrette. Miles of dark wood meet the eye as you enter, punctuated by colorful floor tiles and the glow of candlelight. The cavernous room has been cleverly designed to feel cozy while still allowing enough space between the tables for comfortable conversation.
Many of you will have already read my rave review of Copper and Spices in Folkestone. Well, because of my raving the directors of my company decided to have the office Christmas lunch there – result! The Copper and Spices team went to great lengths with Santa hats, festive glasses and poppers on the table, complimentary mulled wine – which, by the way, was the best I’ve ever had – and a ten-course tasting menu that defied belief. Enjoy ogling the photos and then get down there as fast as you can!
Salt – the element that brings forth and magnifies flavor. Traded for centuries and at one time more expensive than gold, salt is the one thing every good kitchen cannot be without. Basic as it is, it is essential to the enjoyment of food. Salt in Canterbury is also basic, but not in the not-trying-very-hard sort of way. It’s more like they’ve taken a restaurant and stripped it back so that no element of the building or furniture distract from the reason you are there: the food.
Choosing to eat out on a whim is a bit risky. Who’s to say the menu bears any resemblance to what they put on the plates? To borrow from a recent episode of ‘Come Dine With Me’, who’s to say the only exotic element of an ‘exotic’ salad won’t be the fact that the chef preparing it was born in the Caribbean? Worse yet, who’s to say you won’t order a bottle of wine recommended by the owner only to find out, after you’d swilled two bottles of it, that it costs $75 a bottle – a personal experience that still brings a tear to my eye.
The Quality Chop House is a building of two parts: one half wine bar and wine shop, the other half dining room. The building has been called The Quality Chop House since 1869, although several different businesses have been run under the name, and the current owners are working to keep the original spirit alive. With all the original fixtures and nice touches like vintage plates and cutlery, the atmosphere of the Grade-II listed building is one of quiet elegance. It is unimposing and unpretentious, but what you’re offered once you enter this humble space is nothing short of exquisite.