You know we love The King’s Head in Wye, a gastro pub which has been pioneering the trend for championing local produce since it opened in 2013, and now we have started a not so illicit affair with its new food venue next door – KingShed.
We’ve already spilled the beans about why we love The King’s Head in Wye, a gastro pub which has been pioneering the trend for championing local produce since it opened in 2013, and now we have started a not so illicit affair with its new food venue next door – KingShed. If authentic Neapolitan pizzas and bangin’ 80 tunes float your boat, then you might want to read on and discover a bit more.
KingShed is the sister restaurant to one of Muddy’s favourite pubs in Kent, King’s Head, and sits in the pretty historical village of Wye. Nestled at the foot of the North Downs and just North East of Ashford with its’ high speed train in and out of London, Wye not only has the benefit of being located in an area of outstanding natural beauty but it is also fast becoming a foodie-hub in Kent with other good independent restaurants and pubs all located within a close proximity of each other.
Scott Richardson and Mark Lightford, the uber-friendly and talented duo behind The King’s Head, have used their magic touch to transform what used to be the ‘shed out back’, to something rather spectacular, and will put a spin on any future pizza eating. Quite literally.
From the moment you spy the neon sign, (with 132 colour-way options we are told) above the KingShed, you know that this is a pizzeria with a difference. Scott’s originally a music producer and has tapped into this side of his creative brain with an invitation for diners to perch on a bar stool, chuck a vinyl on from its 80s-heavy (heaven) music library, and ogle your pizza being whipped into shape, then rise into the most perfect doughy deliciousness, right in front of you. All 90 seconds of it.
The menu is nattily presented on a retro-sandwich board and the vibe here is fun, fun, fun. All of this is centred around its bespoke pizza oven, handmade for the PizzaShed in Italy, which also doubles up as the perfect backdrop for disco lights to be projected onto its smooth-white exterior. Scott and Mark have a lot of fun with this and even customised it with Pride colours when the festival was in full-swing in Canterbury.
After ordering, you are given a buzzer so you can choose to sit back and eat in the courtyard, or you can hang out in the King’s Head bar if colder, which adds to the relaxed vibe of the place as there is no standing on ceremony around here, and you can concentrate on having a good time until you are buzzed back.
SCOFF & QUAFF
If we are going down the not so illicit affair route, you could well say it was love at first……smell. I would love to bottle up the aromas of freshly baked Neopolitan pizza, as I would be a very happy (and maybe slightly hearty-looking) millionaire as this mouth-watering bouquet is what greets you first.
As we know from the menu at The King’s Head next door, Scott and Mark take their food seriously and the focus there is on delivering the best dishes from around the UK, using the best produce that Kent has to offer. Therefore, it comes as no surprise, that they have done their research (the KingShed has been two years in the making) so there is no messing about here when it comes to putting on the real deal.
After commissioning their own bespoke pizza oven from Italy which took three months in transit, Scott and Mark engaged with Italian and award-winning pizza chef, Marco Fuso to help them develop their pizza recipes and he comes back to regularly train their staff to ensure that no authenticity is lost in the translation. I was lucky enough to meet Marco on my visit and his back-story sold it for me before I had even tasted one of the pizzas.
Hailing from Lecce in the South of Italy, it was his grandfather who ignited his passion for cooking at the age of 12 when he used to join him for the summer and help in his bakery. He opened his first pizzeria at the age of 19 and hasn’t looked back since. As he explained, the journey for authentic tasting Italian pizza starts with the dough, which is all made from scratch in KingShed’s kitchen, using only speciality Italian flour, and then it’s a long slow yeast fermentation process which can last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
It’s this process, together with a skilled hand stretching technique that brings together the essential components to achieve the light airy crust and thin fragrant base that are synonymous with Neopolitan pizzas. Marco insists on using San Marzano tomatoes from the Sarnese Nocerino of Italy which are known for their fantastic, full flavour and are the base for its sauce, with buffalo mozzarella from Italy and authentic Italian meats.
And for the unique and tasty twist, many of the local vegetables adorning the pizzas come from Scott and Mark’s trusted local suppliers, and a Winter version is on its way with game from local farmers. Nothing encapsulates this winning combination better than its Wye Community Farm pizza with shredded spiced Lamb, sumac, yoghurt and pickled carrot, with these toppings sourced from a neighbouring farm.
There is always a daily Special and the menu changes every three months, to reflect the seasons, so as if you needed another reason lure you back, you will also find something new and tasty to try alongside the classic toppings.
But what about the actual pizza – how good was it? Can we just leave as that there was not a scrap of pizza left between the four of us? Our daily special was a Parma Ham with Taleggio cheese which was intense in flavour and one to be recommended, if you find it on the Specials board on your visit, and the Wye Community Lamb resembled Turkish pides and was a real crowd pleaser alongside the more typical Italian toppings.
We also sampled (just for you, of course) the Meat Feast (spicy chorizo, salami, Parma ham, caramelized red onion and wild rocket) and a Ham & Mushroom. This was no ordinary Ham & Mushroom as it contained Proscuitto cotto, Edible Kingdom oyster mushrooms, and parmesan. I also suggest getting a couple of Harrissa Mayo dips and Garlic & Herb Mayo dip for some classy crust dipping at the end.
On a final quaff note, as you may imagine, there is a strong focus on local producers with a dedicated Kent Spirits cocktail menu using local brands such as Greensand Ridge Gin and Anno Elderflower Vodka. I was enjoying the Simpsons wine, but if you want to venture further afield, there is plenty of choice and my husband and his friend were tucking into the Whitstable Bay ales and lagers. Fruit-packed smoothies and milkshakes are also very popular here, for that morning-after feeling or the younger crowd.
Absolutely – old and young. Not only will they be enthralled by the flashing disco oven, but pizza is king for many kids – and they can go for the Classic Margarita if fancy toppings don’t get them fired up. On sunny days, the courtyard is a great laid-back spot where you can hang and then go for a walk in the surrounding countryside afterwards. Oh, and did we mention that pudding is one of its Neopolitan pizzas smothered in Nutella. Just saying….
OUT & ABOUT
This is a village to potter but If you want to push yourself, look here for our recommended walk in the area which should take about three hours, and has some challenging climbs in places but well worth it for the spectacular views from the Downs.
Take a short drive or a leisurely walk over the beautiful country side to the outskirts of Wye where you’ll find Perry Court Farm, a family run business with three generations of the Fermor family working together on the farm. A fabulous place to work up an appetite as they stock (and you can buy) anything from artisan cheeses, home reared lamb and mutton, to shrubs and plants. There’s a lovely tea shop there too.
If the kids are in tow, you are only 9 or so miles from Port Lympne, a wild animal safari park and breeding sanctuary, as well as King’s Wood (3.5 miles away) which is a 1500 acre forest with walking and cycling paths so something for all age groups.
Once you have been bitten by the hospitality bug at KingShed, it will be hard not to return and try out the gastropub offering next door at King’s Head, which gets the big thumbs up from us. And we just love a good pub with rooms above it and the King’s Head has seven of those, all en-suite and stylishly done, with reclaimed and vintage furniture mixed with bright colours and modern accessories.
Talking of vintage furniture, The King’s Head also regularly hosts Craft and Vintage fairs on Saturdays during the morning linking in with the local Wye Farmers Market. King’s Head is open for breakfast 8am-10.30am (with an extensive menu to include vegan options as well) so you can make a day of it.
It’s important to note that the KingShed is only open on Wednesdays through to Sundays at varied times (Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 5pm — 10pm, Friday: 4pm – 10pm, Saturday: 12pm — 10pm) so make sure you check this beforehand to avoid hangry people in your party, although you could just scoot next door to the King’s Head.
There’s plenty more fun stuff in the pipeline which Scott and Mark are looking to try out next year including a dial-in service for pizza, tiramisus for pudding, and salads to go with the pizzas but for the moment, they have got it sussed.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Informal and fun dinner dates, girls’ catch up (80s attire optional), families, take-out and for those who truly value authentic Italian pizza – they won’t be disappointed
Not for: The stuffed crust and deep-pan pizza brigade. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for a slice of ‘dirty’ pizza, but this is where it is at for the genuine thing.
The damage: I would say very reasonable considering the calibre of ingredients and location. You have the choice of 8 inch or 12 inch pizzas (ranging from £5 for the smallest Margarita and up to £12 for the 12 inch Meat Feast) and extra toppings at £1 for Veg and £2 for Meat. Bottles of wine range from £20 to £67, depending on your choice.
KingShed At The King’s Head, Church Street, Wye, Ashford, Kent, TN25 5BN, 01233 42 79 79