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The Fordwich Arms

Chef-patron Daniel Smith was voted The Observer’s Young Chef of the Year 2016 and has been central to the gastropub’s culinary successes ever since.

Part of that success, also driven by his undeniable skills, is down to Smith’s use of local Kentish ingredients, which are sourced direct from nearby farms and producers. But it doesn’t all hand on Smith’s shoulders, as the pub has an outstanding team behind it, with each person highly skilled.

Such skill has driven the pub up the list over the years, from 42 in 2019 to 17 in 2020 and 16 in 2021. It has risen significantly again this year and now sits proudly in the top 10 for the first time.

Dishes are plated and served in a relaxed and welcoming style, ideal for a lunch or dinner at any time of the year, whatever the occasion.

Smith worked his way around some of the UK’s top restaurants, working for the likes of Jason Atherton as well as in the Clove Club, where he stayed for five years.

The Fordwich Arms is a beautifully renovated building, with its red brick adorned with bright green ivy.

Inside, you’ll find tastefully decorated rooms that bring together tradition with light modern touches.

The gastropub sits next to the River Stour, which is easily viewed from the terrace dining space.

Speaking of food, guests can choose from a plethora of food menus including à la carte, tasting menus and two vegetarian tasting menus.

Dishes you’re likely to see on the à la carte menu have included rock oysters for snacks, raw Orkney scallop with apple, kohlrabi and vadouvan spices for starters and roast saddle of Chart Farm Sika venison with chestnut, celeriac and spiced fig for main, with many more dishes to select from.

The full tasting menu, which costs £115 a head for six courses and petit fours, includes duck liver parfait; raw Orkney scallop; and turbot with crisp potato, grape and lobster sauce.

There is also a four-course tasting menu, if you don’t wish to go the whole hog, while wine pairings can also be added at an additional cost – but well worth it in our opinion.

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