Review: The Pig at Bridge Place
- Credit: Archant
Taking the concept of dinner and a night away from home to an entirely new level, The Pig chain may just prove to be the saviour for many relationships.
Because it's hard not to fall in love all over again when you experience all that these venues have in store, a remarkable fusion of stunning accommodation, food to die for and a sustainability ethos which you just can't fault.
My partner and I headed down the M2 to the new Pig in the historic village of Bridge, just three miles south of Canterbury.
It's set in a quirky country manor house, once the venue for rock 'n' roll parties attended by the likes of Led Zeppelin, riddled with hosts of period features including epic fireplaces, secret stairways, panelled rooms and endless nooks and crannies to get lost in.
As part of the transformation into The Pig, these special structural eccentricities have been preserved and enhanced to create seven characterful bedrooms, various sitting areas, and of course some wonderfully cosy bars.
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Alongside the rooms in the main house are other properties in the grounds, including two family-friendly lodges, light and spacious rooms in The Coach House, and hop pickers' huts on stilts alongside the river.
And if you're on a budget, there are even two "extremely-small" rooms (as they are marketed), but even one of those has an original four-poster bed, so you'll never really be slumming it no matter what accommodation you choose.
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We stayed in The Barn, a rustic, romantic two-storey hideaway converted from the old stable block, which features plenty of rough cast plaster and reclaimed timber.
Greeted by some fizz and chocolates on arrival, we whiled away a few hours before dinner chilling out in the sitting room, which comes complete with log burner, flicking through movie options on the widescreen TV.
The luxurious bathroom is absolutely huge, featuring a freestanding roll-top bath and large monsoon shower, and from the upstairs there are far-reaching views over the water meadows and kitchen garden.
We headed down to the bar ahead of dinner, grabbing some cocktails from a menu designed to complement the offerings from the kitchen garden, and then headed into the Coach House restaurant, which is where the real magic begins.
To say that the Pig team are obsessed with homegrown and local produce is a total understatement. Anything which isn't plucked from the tree or dug from the soil comes from within a 25-mile radius, and when you're in the heart of the Kent countryside the quality is always guaranteed.
The kitchen garden itself is a highlight of the whole Pig experience. During the course of our stay were given a tour around the site by head kitchen gardener Fran Chilet-Olmos to sample and study some of the produce grown in the grounds, which ranges from herbs and root vegetables to fruit and salad, plus unusually tasting treasures plucked from hedgerows and trees.
For dinner my partner enjoyed crispy, freshly-made devilled whitebait as a starter, accompanied by oak-smoked salmon in a cider apple dressing which she said melted in her mouth.
She followed up with a whole Gemini bream booked in shallot and capers butter served with chips and broccoli. She said she ended up sucking the last bits of fish from the bones of the perfectly cooked bream, but couldn't finish the ample portions.
I had garden pumpkin and coriander soup, a rich and silky dish served with crunchy herb croutons, followed by an epic venison pie served with colcannon mash and liqor. Awesome.
The restaurant itself is lively and bustling, packed with laughter and atmosphere, and service was impeccable. We were back there the next morning for a breakfast to die for, the perfect finale to a luxurious stay.
If you're looking for somewhere exceptional for dinner, bed and breakfast to celebrate a special occasion, then it's certainly worth driving a few hours to visit The Pig at Bridge Place. There's no way you'll be disappointed.