What: An ingredient-led, neighbourhood-style restaurant that sits on a village green in Southborough, in the leafy surrounds of Tunbridge Wells.
Who: Husband and wife team Rob and wife Donna Taylor, who previously spent eight years running Kent gastropub The Compasses Inn in Crundale. The pair met while both working in restaurants. Donna, a trained pastry chef, now runs front of house. Working for a long time together in Donna’s native Australia, the pair worked in Sydney and Brisbane in senior positions before returning to Kent to take over The Compasses Inn, which under their stewardship held a Bib Gourmand and top 10 position in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list.
The food: Coming from East Kent, Rob brings with him a wealth of local suppliers who source from the Kent larder - game birds, mushrooms, oysters, and cherries are all local. The menu offers three starters, three main courses and three dessert,s with a nine course tasting menu available in the private dining room, alongside an interesting and small edit of wines. Sample dishes include roast wood pigeon with soused cucumber, miso mayonnaise and coriander (pictured); treacle-cured beef with glazed ox cheek, braised baby gem and English mustard clotted cream; Stour Valley quail with Kentish cherries and black pudding; crispy confit lamb, mint pesto and goats’ curd; roast loin of venison, celeriac puree, pickled girolles and potato terrine; roscoff onion and cheddar cheese tart and pickled walnut ketchup and for dessert, press apple mille feuille and caramelised mascarpone.
The vibe: Tallow holds 26 covers in its downstairs dining room, with a private dining space for 10 upstairs. The restaurant's design is confidently pared back, providing a cocooning dining space with exposed brick, weathered wood and a log burning stove. The walls are painted a rich liquorice shade that make for an interior to feel grounded and comforted in.
And another thing: Rob and Donna received plenty of acclaim while running The Compasses Inn. Indeed, just weeks before they left in the pub in September this year they received a glowing review from The Guardian's Grace Dent, who declared: "Wherever they go [next], I will follow." A ringing endorsement that should hopefully see Tallow in good stead during its first months and beyond.
15A Church Road, Southborough, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN4 0RX