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Eat out: The Small Holding

A rustic restaurant that packs a real foodie punch. Table for two, please, and make it snappy!

Just opened this year, The Small Holding Farm and Kitchen offers wonderful home-grown and reared produce, hence the name. It’s run by brothers Will and Matt Devlin from the No Fixed Abode restaurant pop-ups and within weeks of it launching word reached our shell-like that they had created something rather special… Table for two, please, Muddy’s paying a visit!

THE LOCATION

You’ll find The Small Holding tucked down a country lane in Kilndown, (between Lamberhurst and Cranbrook). On the former site of The Globe and Rainbow pub it’s off the beaten track yet easy enough to get to, not being far from the A21.THE VIBE

This is very much a bar and restaurant, rather than a pub – while it’s relaxed and welcoming it is definitely a foodie destination with the kitchen element being the star of the show. The sunny decked area overlooking the smallholding at the front is perfect for weekend walkers. Inside there’s a cosy bar, wooden floorboards and old farm equipment decorating the walls.

SCOFF & QUAFF

Will Devlin is one of Kent’s most exciting chefs who you might recognise from Thackerays and The Windmill in Hollingbourne. The Small Holding is a long-term dream in the making – the vision of owning an acre of land on which to grow the produce (salads and veggies, as well as keeping pigs, ducks and chickens). Choose a salad and Will’s out there picking it from the garden! And brother Matt is a great knowledge on the wine/drink side of the restaurant and will match your food choices with the best wine or craft beer options, should you wish.

On arrival you’ll be handed a sealed brown envelope with the menu inside. There’s no sides, no mains just two tasting options – the ‘Half Acre’ (six courses) and ‘Full Acre’ (nine courses), priced at £25 and £45 respectively. Each one reads like a gastronomic glossary – think dishes such as ‘100 Day Aged Sirloin, Chard, Courgettes’, and ‘Scallop, Turners Cider, Lovage’. There are full Vegetarian and Vegan Menus too – pretty impressive.

If you’re just popping in for a quick bite you’ll want to go for the Small Plates menu – the Kentish Asparagus, Poached Egg, (£8) or Dungeness Crab on Toast, (£7) would get my vote.

OUT & ABOUT

A beautiful, unspoilt region of Kent and perfect walking territory. Nearby you’ve got Bedgebury (a forest and park offering loads of outdoor fun from bikes to Go Ape tree climbing) and Bewl Water reservoir just minutes away.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Foodies will love this place – it’s how real food should taste. So will vegetarians and vegans. Will and Matt’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious. Great pitstop for walkers. It’s a grown up experience and not surprisingly attracts more of an adult crowd. Great date night option – there’s a sense of adventure and enjoying an experience about this place.

And that’s great because what makes The Small Holding special is that it has a unique vision and offering and sticks to it. And we all want an arsenal of different pubs up our sleeve for different occasions, right? I’ve already got loads of kiddie options – so a grown up dining experience like this is a very welcome addition.
Not for: Not particularly marketed at your mudlets. If they’re fussy types or don’t yet have a grown up palate this won’t be the place for them (and it would be a bit of a waste to be honest). There’s no official Children’s Menu nor will one be appearing any time in the future. Families do come however and they normally eat from the Small Plates menu – tapas-style with cured meat, cheese, crispy cod loin and Scotch egg.

The damage: Half Acre (six courses) £25 per head and ‘Full Acre’ (nine courses) £45. Small Plates Menu examples include: Kent Collection Charcuterie & Piccalilli, £7; Crisp Cod Loin, Soy Ketchup, £6 and Ashmore Cheddar Rarebit on Toast, £5.

The Small Holding Farm & Kitchen, Ranters Lane, Kilndown, Cranbrook, TN17 2SG, Tel: 01892 890105, thesmallholding.restaurant

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1 comment on “Eat out: The Small Holding”

  • Kerstin Olszowska July 11, 2018

    Hi, having read your review of the above we went there today and were blown away by the place. The tapas-like dishes were simply to die for and we had the smartest and most elegant of lunches that you may expect to have in a fashionable district of a large city and yet here we were totally immersed by glorious Kentish countryside. The staff were fabulous and the chef came out to talk us through some of the dishes. Thanks for the hint! We loved it and came away feeling as if we had stumbled upon something very special indeed. All I can say……..Visit!!!

    Best etc…….Kerstin

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