‘Does your menu change every day?’ I asked the waiter at The Goods Shed, which we’d been told was one of the best restaurants in Canterbury. ‘More often than that,’ he told us, ‘as we have a different lunch menu every day and a different dinner menu. The chefs source most of the food from the Farmers Market, so vary their menus depending on what’s available.’
To get to the market the chefs wouldn’t even have to go out in the torrential rain that was currently pouring down outside, as The Goods Shed is in the same building as Canterbury’s small but very impressive Farmers Market. The tables are on a raised wooden platform that overlooks the market. At lunchtime it must be really buzzing, but in the evening the market is quieter – though several stalls are still open - and the Goods Shed has a more relaxed and rustically romantic atmosphere.
Farmers Market Produce
Slow proved loaves are provided regularly throughout the day by the market’s bakery (above), while the cuts of meat are provided by the butcher from their whole carcasses. At one end of The Goods Shed’s raised seating area is their open kitchen, where you can see the small team working hard to turn that fresh produce into what proved to be impressively creative dishes.
Seating is at large farmhouse-style wooden tables, which meant that for the two of us there was acres of space to set drinks and dishes. Parties of four and six near us also had plenty of space, so generous were the tables. There was room for old bottles containing fresh flowers, which also added to the rustic feel. The tables were also well-spaced so everyone had plenty of privacy, and even on this dismally wet Thursday evening, The Goods Shed was almost full. It showed us how popular the place is locally – and when we started to taste the food, we weren’t surprised.
But first, the drinks. The list was full of lots of Kentish beers and ciders, and several diners were enjoying those with their dinner. Kent is after all known as the Garden of England, noted especially for its orchards and hop-fields, so the choice of good beers and ciders is huge. We were tempted but opted instead for a half-litre jug of very smooth house red, for a reasonable £10.50. The wine was literally in a jug – ours looked like a milk jug, adding to that farmhouse feel.
Freshness in Every Bite
There was a choice of five starters, all reflecting the seasonal nature of the menu. Courgette and Mint Soup sounded tempting, as did Smoked Trout with a Poached Egg and a Butter Sauce, but neither of us could resist the sound of Cornish Scallops, Pea Purée and Chorizo. The scallops were melt-in-the-mouth tender, the chorizo added a spicy edge, while the pea purée had an amazingly intense and delicious taste of fresh peas – as distinctive as the smell of freshly-cut grass.
There were six main courses, including Braised Beef Shin with Tomatoes and Gremolata, and a rather plainly-named Vegetable Platter. Donna chose the Hake with Tomatoes, Garlic and Anchovy Dressing, which proved to be the equivalent of a rainbow of fresh and zingy flavours. Mike had the Kentish Ranger Chicken, which came with Summer Herbs, Crème Fraiche and Bacon. Like the chorizo with the scallops, the bacon added a contrasting sharp bite to the creamy-herby sauce, and the chicken was as tender and tasty as could be.
As well as a range of ice creams and sorbets (Hibiscus Sorbet sounded intriguing), and a British Cheeseboard, there were four fresh desserts to choose from. Donna’s Lemon Tart was huge, and deliciously tangy, just like the French lemon tarts we love so much. Mike chose the restaurant’s own version of the Eton Mess, The Goods Shed Mess, with a meringue that was beautifully soft rather than the usual crunchy kind, and the cherries and rhubarb that went with it were full of the tastes of summer.
Goods Shed Extras
The Goods Shed produces a monthly newsletter, with a copy on each table. We took it away with us to try the recipe in it for Spinach Dal. There was also a flyer about the 10th anniversary of the The Goods Shed and the Farmers Market, which they were currently celebrating. And if our meal was typical, the success of the next ten years is guaranteed.
The Goods Shed is currently open Tuesday-Sunday for breakfast and lunch, and Tuesday-Saturday for dinner, but check on the website below for times, and in case of changes. If you’re visiting Canterbury, we can’t recommend it highly enough for a meal. One of the best restaurants in Canterbury? We can’t say without trying them all, but it’s certainly exceptional by anyone’s standards.
Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM
Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.
Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM
The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.
Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM
Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.