31st July 2022
Each week our in-house food writer Bibi Roy reviews one of our TN partners to see what members can expect when they visit. This week she turns her attention to TN1 Bar & Kitchen at 33 Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells.
TN1 Bar & Kitchen sits on a prominent curve of Monson Road on the old Ask Italian site. Amidst the sprawling town centre shops and ornate balconies above, this conservatory style brasserie resides under the gaze of The Amelia Scott, housing our brilliant new library and museum. Jump off the bus right outside the restaurant, opposite the brilliant Jeremy’s Home Store and one will see families enjoying breakfast, lunch, dinner, signature / classic cocktails and aperitifs, hosted by the lovely Murat, Tess and Deniz.
TN1 combines a modern, spacious restaurant with a lively bar. Family owned they offer a warm welcome, fresh food cooked on the premises and a wide range of cocktails and drinks. A seven minute walk from the train station and adjacent to the Crescent Road car park, it is perfectly placed and with The Assembly Halls and Trinity theatres just around the corner, there is also the opportunity for pre or post theatre drinks. What an ideal location.
This hard working team pride themselves on friendly, fun and professional service, making guests feel welcome every time they visit. Not only are they open Monday to Saturday 9am-midnight, a Sunday roast is available with all the trimmings, 9-6pm, a good thing to know as many establishments close much earlier. With vegan and children’s menus on offer, there really is something for everyone. Fully-accessible for wheelchair users, pram-friendly with wide aisles and lots of space, including an outdoor terrace. They are also very pet friendly and even have a resident bar dog named Dave.
And so to the food. Come with an empty belly because the portions are substantial. They serve a wide selection of cuts from British produced meat, (by TRM Meats), as well as sustainably sourced seafood, (by Chapmans and Sankey’s for the mussels), a vast selection of the finest cocktails using fresh ingredients, juices all hand-pressed here. Gelato is by Maws. They host a Bottomless offer from Monday to Friday, live music Thursday to Sunday and plenty of special offers (check the website for latest details).
All of the menus created by Murat please every demographic. They cover every base without restrictions that many others put in place. The breakfast and brunch one includes the full English, veggie, healthy and omelette of the day options. Poached eggs can be Royale, Florentine or Benedict, or scrambled with smoked salmon. American pancakes, everybody loves those. Avocado bruschetta, Croque Monsieur and sautéed truffle mushrooms on sourdough, there’s so much choice.
For larger plates, choose from three burgers, including a veggie version, steaks, chargrilled minute or 28 day aged sirloin, signature club sandwiches, Turkish chicken, grilled Halloumi and Caesar Salads. With over nine fish / seafood dishes they even have a “Mussel Bar”, serving four options accompanied by fries or bread, what’s not to love. If you want more on your plate, there is a choice of eight further side dishes. Phew, I am exhausted and I haven’t even started on the tapas sharing platters and vegan menu. The latter has a great choice by the way, which I am very happy to see, not just a few bits thrown in to keep an ever growing plant-based population happy.
Dinner is a larger choice of the plates available during the day, with sirloin, fillet and T-bone steaks, (dad’s favourite), treacle cured pork belly sounds intriguing as does the shellfish linguine. Their popular burgers and mussels are back here with eight starters and six sides.
Ready for dessert? They’re going old-school style. Sticky toffee, crumble, brownies, cheesecake and a trio of artisan ice cream. You can finish this whopper of a meal with one of their many coffees by Caravan and teas, (including Rooibos).
Stress Down – a strawberry, ginger, apple healthy juice, topped with fresh strawberries. Having juices pressed in-house makes all the difference. It takes me back to my time in Egypt where I would have these several times a day.
Shell off grilled king prawns, served with garlic and chilli are superb. So much so I ask Deniz for some sourdough bread to lap up the divine sauce. He does the same when he eats here. I am transported to Egypt again. The six, huge fresh prawns are fresh, plump and juicy, the spicing just right. A couple adjacent are having the Moules Mariniere and fish and chips. They look spectacular, the portion sizes enormous. I start to think about wastage, however Tess assures me, due to them being able to serve such varied choices without time restrictions alleviates this. If you just want a starter and a beverage, you can have one. They don’t insist you have a full meal.
Flat Iron steak, hand cut chips and creamed spinach. They have a special offer on at the moment. A Flat Iron for £12 with sides for £4 each. I am pleasantly surprised by the high standard. The meat is perfectly cooked medium rare, well-seasoned, rested and therefore not chewy, with just the right amount of garlic butter. Served on an attractive board with creamed spinach that has been nicely cared for and the chips also well-seasoned. This is actually enough for two and I am struggling to finish it. I have to say, this is one of the best I have eaten in my hometown, so many get it wrong.
Homemade apple crumble is no ordinary dessert. Lovely cinnamon baked apple, freshly roasted pecans and proper crumble, (none of that oat stuff), vanilla gelato, you can have cream if you want and finished with fresh strawberries. It is immense.
I sit for a coffee (by Caravan) and an Amaretti biscuit whilst Murat tells me his story. He was in restaurants before, became a personal trainer and then went back into hospitality, opening TN1 Bar and Kitchen with Tess, formerly a stockbroker who worked in pubs when she was eighteen. The third partner is their Head Chef who I hope to meet next time. As I pass the kitchen I see a familiar face that tells me, I must revisit for their Sunday Roast. Let’s just say, the one that closed not so far away has passed on a gem to this buzzing establishment.
So, I walked in with a pre-conceived idea that my meal would be average. Why, because most town centre restaurants focus on high turnover but not high quality. I was very wrong in this case. Incredible value for money, menu variety and exemplary service make TN1 Bar & Kitchen a definite new favourite. Go because it will seriously put a smile on your face, just ask any of their regulars. Bravo.
All opinions are my own and are exclusive to the TN card.
Member reward: A complimentary glass of house white or red wine, or a soft drink when dining in. Find details here.