Saturday, June 14, 2008

Soprano, Tunbridge Wells

Old High Street,
Tunbridge Wells TN1 1XF Map

Despite its name, Soprano is a Tapas restaurant, a stone's throw from the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. It's a very popular restaurant and is always full.

We were lucky enough, one Friday night, to arrive when they had a spare table. We were told when we arrived that they had two sittings and that we would have to leave by nine. As far as I'm concerned, it is down to the restaurant staff to make sure that happens by making sure the the food is delivered with enough time to eat it. If they do their job, then they'll be able to turn the table around.

The menu at Soprano is pretty good, with a host of vegetarian options. One surprise was that there was a vegetable paella, but not a seafood one which we both though was a bit strange. We chose a selection of dishes between us which included Patatas Bravos (potatoes in a spicy sauce), Vegetable Paella, Artichokes and Berengena Gratinata (Aubergine with cheese gratin) all washed down with a rather nice Sangria.

It was all very tasty, especially the artichoke, but some of the the portions were quite small and when we left we were still a bit hungry. Each of the main dishes was around £3 - £4 which can make the meal quite expensive if you have three or four dishes for your main course - which we did - especially so, if it doesn't fill you up. That aside, the service was friendly and the restaurant, although small, is quite well set out making it quite cosy.

The big test is whether we would go back or not and, providing we weren't really hungry, we probably would do, as the food was very tasty.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sankey's, Tunbridge Wells

39 Mount Ephraim
Tunbridge Wells TN4 8AA Map

My wife is from Australia and, for the past seven years, she has been searching for some really good seafood that can match that of her native country. Until now, the best she has had has been at San Bas in Westerham. For Saturday lunch she and a friend went to Sankey's after it was recommended on Eating Out in Tunbridge Wells.

She came home raving about the halibut she had and said that the veggie option sounded good, so we ended up there for Sunday lunch.

The restaurant/brasserie is reached by taking the steps next to the main pub entrance and this leads down into a fairly large room that opens out onto an umbrella-protected terrace. It was a lovely day so we sat on the terrace.

There is only one veggie option, which is fine as this is a fish restaurant (there was only a single meat option too...) and it was a Samphire Risotto, which quite excited me as, in my experience, it is quite rare to see this on the menu and it is something that I enjoy.

After asking the waitresses opinion - and it was nice that she seemed very knowledgeable about all the dishes - my wife decided upon the tuna with nicoise salad.

While we were waiting for our orders to arrive we were watching the dishes being delivered to other diners and they all looked very well presented with large portions. The table next to us received a mixed platter for two and it was enormous.

The risotto I had was no different. The samphire was perfectly cooked, the rice had just the right amount of bite and mixed into the dish was the odd basil leaf which gave a nice extra pocket of flavour every so often.

My wife was extremely pleased with her tuna dish which she said was nice, but given the choice she would have the halibut, which she described as "perfect".

Dessert was a no brainer as there was a creme brulee on the menu. My wife had ginger pear with mango sorbet. I had a taste of this and it was lovely.

Oh yeah, the creme brulee. Well, the eagle eyed among you will have noticed that the chart has a new number one. Yes, it was really good. The caramelised sugar was perfect and the custard was excellent. I think that a few more vanilla seeds would have made it a perfect 10.

Although occasionally there was a slight delay in service, the staff were really friendly and would pop over to the table to explain the delay and apologise, which goes a long way to alleviating any frustration.

This was a great improvement on Thackeray's, which I visited the night before which, although the food was exceptional, still haven't improved on their service since the last time I visited.

Sankey's has been firmly added to our list and I'm sure we'll be back there in the not too distant future.