The Perfect Sustainable Foodie’s Weekend in Tunbridge Wells by Eat like a Local
I was recently drawn into a Tik Tok rabbit hole with a multitude of recipes, spruiking the emerald goodness and versatility of wild garlic, a favourite with woodland foragers this time of year. Tunbridge Wells is bordered by swathes of unspoiled countryside which would yield a feast for the Ray Mears amongst us. However, as laudable as a 100% sustainable meal is, the average foodie might seek more than nettle soup and wild garlic and dandelion salad. So here’s Eat Like a Local’s take on an indulgent, yet sustainable and most importantly, mouth-watering weekend in the unofficial capital of the High Weald.
A sustainable weekend should naturally begin by arriving on a train and we’re fortunate to have a station, which is a stone’s throw from some fantastic shopping and dining options. Take a short stroll through the High Street and Chapel Place where you’ll encounter lots of independent boutiques and cafes. By the time you hit the famous Pantiles, you might be in the mood for some light refreshment and you can’t go wrong with the Zero Waste Company. Not only do they serve amazing coffee, tea, an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, which champions locally-sourced ingredients, they also showcase wonderful, ethical gifts and everyday products. There’s a real warmth and welcoming vibe to this place and you won’t feel out of place if you’re not a card-carrying member of Extinction Rebellion.
Once refreshed and recharged, a leisurely walk in the Pantiles is the perfect way to take in the Georgian architecture, especially on one of the frequent market days. For keen walkers, there’s the option of strolling through the lush Common, up to the Wellington Rocks, where kids delight in risking life and limb jumping over the gaps in the sandstone outcrop. On warmer days, locals can be seen picnicking around the cricket pitch. You may want to grab some picnic goodies from the Old Auction House before leaving the Pantiles. Another option is to take the short walk to the West Station and hop onboard the historic Spa Valley Railway and enjoy stunning views aboard this steam-powered marvel.
Tunbridge Wells is truly a food-lovers haven and fantastic restaurants for all tastes and budgets are never far away. After an active first day exploring the town, you might want to relax at your hotel before heading out to The Warren at the top of the High Street. Of the high-end restaurants in town, this gem stands out on a number of fronts. It prides itself on sustainable, locally-sourced produce, from the seasonal asparagus to the local venison. The interiors are richly decorated and the ambiance welcoming without being over-bearing. For a more casual option, you can’t go wrong with a wander up to Cantuccio’s in Camden Road for authentic, wood-fired sourdough pizza.
The sustainable foodie’s weekend in Tunbridge Wells wouldn’t be complete without a trip out to one of the country’s few restaurants to be awarded a Michelin Green Star for sustainability. The Small Holding in the village of Kilndown has won numerous awards for inventive use of ingredients grown onsite or sourced within a mile of the village. If transport or budget are limited, a Sunday leisurely exploring wonderful local parks, Calverley Park and Dunorlan Park is always an option, especially if children and/or dogs are part of the equation. A stroll down Camden Rd beforehand will provide plenty of fresh, local ingredients for the perfect picnic. From the freshest fruit, veg and Kentish produce at Locality, to warm artisan bread and indulgent pastry creations from the Bicycle Bakery.
On a sunny weekend, Tunbridge Wells is the perfect escape from hustle and bustle, especially for lovers of sustainable cuisine and nature.
The Eat Like a Local. website will officially launch in June, in the meantime Loic and Ash would love to receive your feedback and suggestions. You can preview it here: app.eatlikealocal.co.uk and send any comments to email@example.com. If you’d like to get a copy of The Signature Collection, featuring recipes from some of the town’s top chefs, books are available at The Shuffle House in St. Johns, La Follia and The Warren in the town centre and The Lyle in Hawkenbury
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