Muddy eats: The Curious Eatery, Boughton Monchelsea
If there was ever a place that summed up what the my eating reviews are all about, it’s The Curious Eatery. Firstly I heard about it through a Facebook tip off from an old journo friend (thanks Louis!) who happens to live in the area and knew it would be of real interest to you all. Secondly, it’s so off the beaten track that you’d never stumble across it unless you’d heard about it from word-of-mouth (it’s not even had it’s official opening night yet). And lastly, it’s so darn cute, the food so fabulously good and the atmosphere so cosy (only the best for you). Oh, and, *leans in* have I mentioned the secret supper clubs? Shhhhh, read on…
The Curious Eatery is a brilliant little restaurant set up in what was a disused pub in Boughton Monchelsea (is it just me who has trouble pronouncing it?), so south of Maidstone and just north of Sutton Valence. The immediate surrounds are quite suburban, the pub is tucked down a quiet street and from the outside doesn’t look like much. But step through the door and you’ll find something magical – a really buzzing place that was even packed on a Tuesday lunchtime.
The manager, Lesley, and chef, Nicole, are sisters who, although young, have been in the trade a while (including a stint at the also-very-lovely Frankie’s Farm Shop). Renovating the interior of the pub and giving it a new lease of life is a project they’ve undertaken with the local community. It’s been done beautifully – think rustic, quirky chic.
Chef, Nicole Pixie Parry, has spent time cooking on luxury yachts, and her clients included celebrities (rumour has it Madonna). She prepares all the food here herself and you can see her in the kitchen as she works, as above. The dishes are just how I like them – not fussy but simple and oh-so-delicious. My friend Suzie, had Feta, Pea, Courgette and Red Onion Quiche which was, in her words, the best flavoured quiche she’d ever had (apologies to her Mum/Aunt/Granny) and I went for the super-tender and tasty Grilled chicken and Salad Flatbread, see below.
Also, on the Specials Board was Mussels in White Wine with Chorizo, Chilli & Coriander or Spinach, Nut & Mushroom Wellington or Pan-fried Sea Bream… all fresh, seasonal and where possible, locally sourced.
The upstairs area is still having the final finishing touches, before opening up at the end of the month. When we visited there was a mixed crowd – mainly ladies lunching or Mums with pre-schoolers (main meals are available in smaller portions for kids for half the price). I have it on good authority from my mate Louis that the Sunday Roasting Feasts are spectacular. These are ribs of beef or shoulder of lamb, cooked over-night so super tender, and sold on one platter by weight, with Yorkshire puds, steamed veggies and crispy roast potatoes. Turn up early as it’s first come first served with the size options.
It’s the perfect place for afternoon tea too and another local lady hand-bakes this mouth-watering selection of cakes. She’s just setting up in the attached annexe and specialises in gluten-free goodies too, so there’s loads of choice. And yes somehow we managed to squeeeeeeze in a Whoopee Cookie and cuppa after our lunch – don’t judge us. They were too tempting!
There’s also a child-friendly, small but perfectly formed, outside space. Check opening times on the website, it’s generally open until 9pm on weekdays and closed on Mondays.
Why not make a day of it? Head to Leeds Castle for their enchanting Christmas Market (opens on Sat 3 Dec), then nip in here for some refreshments on the way home.
Watch their Facebook page for details of the secret super clubs, which sell out quickly, like this one below, at Anno Gin’s Distillery in Marden. As always, if you decide to go and check it out, do get in touch and let me know what you think.
The Curious Eatery (at The Albion Inn), 1 Church Street, Boughton Monchelsea, Maidstone, ME17 4HW, Tel: 01622 299359, thecuriouseatery.co.uk