8th June 2023
Each month, our food writer Bibi Roy reviews one of our TN hospitality partners. This time she heads to Squerryes Winery Restaurant on Squerryes Estate in Westerham. The restaurant thanks members for supporting local with a complimentary glass of wine with their meal, for themselves and a friend Wednesday to Friday (see our reward page for details).
"For over 300 years, eight generations of the Warde family have called Squerryes estate on the North Downs home. The Vineyard has won multiple awards, including the prestigious 2021 International Wine Challenge, recognised as one of the top five Champagne and Sparkling Wine producers in the world. AA Rosette winning Squerryes Winery Restaurant lies at the heart of the estate, with stunning views over the vineyard and wider estate.
Offering seasonal and sustainable produce from the lands around them, as well as handpicked local producers within a 30 mile radius, Head Chef Seamus is able to source and forage the freshest and finest ingredients, to create simple but high standard dishes that reflect their quality. Livestock is reared on the estate and butchered in house by Sous Chef Aya, and so this field to fork spirit reflects “the natural flavours of the region”. The Warde family motto is, “Licet Esse Beatis, it is permitted to be joyful”, and joy is certainly in abundance here. With a compliment of superb wines authored by Master of Wine Laura Evans - old and new world, a special collection of English wines and of course their award winning sparkling Squerryes wines - one is sure to savour the experience.
The lovely Jess has kindly offered to drive me here today, oh why, oh why did I sell my car. Living in the garden of England has such beauty when the sun shines and the grapes are aflow, but public transport never extends to these picturesque pockets of this great county. Jess is indeed surprised that in my fifteen years of living here I have never visited. Well I am so pleased to be remedying this today.
Before walking up to the restaurant Jess shows me the surrounding buildings, the garden café, deli and cellar door, and ground floor terrace where diners can enjoy the impressive scenery. There is also a small terrace upstairs which I highly recommend booking in advance, as seating is limited. We decide to sit at a sun-drenched table inside with an impressive view and are greeted by the dapperly dressed Anton, whom I seem to recognise as he was formerly at Verdigris. He takes us through their extensive menus with expert knowledge and recommends a wine flight of three, the 2018 Vintage Brut, a hallmark of clean bruised apple nose with notes of brioche and pastries, (36% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 31% Pinot Meunier), a 2015 Blanc De Blanc, a clean fresh nose with bruised apples, warm brioche and grapefruit pith, (100% Chardonnay), and finally he saves the best ‘til last, 2010 Vintage, Late Disgorged Brut, 2017 CSWWC –Gold Medal, (40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier). I do not profess to be a connoisseur but this is exceptional.
On to the food. They have a snacks menu of seven. Today freshly baked bread served with homemade hummus, baba ghanoush and pistou is tempting, as are the pork cheeks with Estate apple ketchup and a Beale’s Farm charcuterie board with homemade pickles. We opt for harissa / orange and garlic marinated gordal olives, they are juicily plump. Smoked beef tacos with wild garlic kimchi are absolutely mouth-meltingly delicious, with the kimchi cutting through the richness, it’s not too shredded either and so is very refreshing. Then spiced crispy squid, coconut, chive and sweet chilli dressing. No chewiness here, just addictive breaded slithers that I cannot stop eating. In fact Anton arrives in the nick of time to stop me gorging!
Now to the dinner, small plates, large plates, Estate plates and sides. Squerryes adopt a nose to tail philosophy, utilising their animals to full potential as well as foraging seasonally. Anton recommends the market fish of the day which is sea bream, accompanied by fennel, samphire, Groombridge Farm Shop asparagus and Squerryes lemon beurre blanc. The fish is well executed with a crisp skin and the beurre blanc compliments well. The asparagus has been cooked over charcoal and has a lovely char. Jess orders patatas bravas with paprika and tomato sauce, smoked onion aioli and Cornish kern cheese, which I feel may overpower the fish, however it actually goes quite well.
Knowing the quality of their livestock I order the Estate lamb duo, Groombridge asparagus, confit baby carrots, (yes, I am eating carrots!), whipped ewes curd and lamb jus. I order the jus on the side as I am currently watching sugar content in dishes. When it arrives the confit meat looks a tad dry but the slices are pink and oh the flavour. Cooked over fire, as is the asparagus, and against the sweetness of the carrot and accompanying greens, the overall flavour is excellent, so much so I forget myself and pour the jus.
Anton suggests we adjourn to the terrace. The sun is blazing and the sky is the perfect shade of blue, who are we to argue? I take my last glass of their 2010 Vintage, Late Disgorged Brut as I wish to drink this slowly and we decide on dessert. Kent in my opinion has the finest strawberries and so of course I opt for vanilla panna cotta, drenched in macerated Kentish strawberries in Squerryes brut and strawberry sorbet. The taste is like no other, sweet, scented, creamy and tart all at the same time. Jess has the Tiramisu cheesecake, espresso crumb and espresso ice cream. I prefer traditional Tiramisu but the ice cream is superb with a high cream and coffee content. I wonder if they sell it in the deli, no Bibi, stop now. I actually only have a few spoonfuls of both desserts but boy do I want to eat more. I am quite proud that I am managing to keep to my diet restrictions but am still able to taste such incredible produce and I am pleased to see they are very careful here to clearly state allergens, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free choices very clearly.
I thoroughly enjoy my lunch at Squerryes, all the better with Jess who makes me giggle incessantly. They were awarded a coveted AA rosette only weeks before and I can absolutely see why. It was wonderful going on a week day and I recommend it if you prefer tranquillity. When the sun shines people flock, but if this is your thing then why not attend their Friday Night Jazz, where local talent selected by Paul Dunton of Local and Live fame are the backdrop to your meal. Either way a marvellous time will be had by all.
Thank you Anton and Team Squerryes for a sensational time."
Review by Bibi Roy, exclusively for the TN card. All opinions are Bibi's own.
Member rewards at Squerryes Winery:
Restaurant: A complimentary glass of Squerryes with your meal for yourself and a guest (excludes Saturdays and Sundays)
Deli: Purchase two bottles of English still wine and receive 15% off your second and subsequent bottles (Monday to Friday daytimes)
Garden cafe: Purchase a sandwich, pastry or cake and receive a complimentary tea or coffee (Monday to Friday daytimes)