The Corner House Canterbury is an independently owned restaurant and is proud to serve locally sourced British food with Kent ales and wines to match. The 16th-century former coach house is rumoured to have counted Charles Dickens among its patrons. To allow even more people to enjoy this Kentish delight, the owners have just extended its dining space, and Sabi Phagura went to check it out.
Dating back to 1574, The Corner House received its first public house licence in 1682 and has served Kentish ales since. At the helm since 2016 is chef patron Matt Sworder who is proud to continue the county’s heritage and has turned the building into a thriving gastropub with rooms. Patrons can indulge in the place’s history by taking in archive photographs and a timeline along the wall of a secluded section of the wood-panelled candlelit dining area while they eat and drink.
Overlooking the city walls and just a 20-minute walk from Canterbury West station, this beautifully beautiful refurbished building retains lots of its original character. Only a 54-minute train ride to London St Pancras, it’s an accessible spot for those looking for an escape from the capital. And now it can cater to a further 26 guests by opening a second dining room.
With bifold doors opening onto a beautiful courtyard, the space is ideal for large gatherings and is available for private dining. The original dining space seats up to 40 guests who can watch chefs at work in the open kitchen.
Wanting to dine al fresco to make the most of the glorious sunshine, my mum and I took our seats in the courtyard. I was expecting to hear the humdrum of the traffic due to the building’s proximity to the main road. To our delight, we barely heard anything, and we could have been in a garden closer to a field.
I often refrain from tucking into too much bread from the basket, but after being told it is baked daily on the premises, I just couldn’t help polishing it with lashings of the salted butter it came with. Yes, it was that good. It hadn’t escaped my notice. I could have it later for dessert in the form of brown bread ice cream. Reigning in my greed, I skipped back to looking at the starters and mains.
Sharpening his skills at Gordon Ramsay’s La Noisette, Matt and his attentive team serve up unpretentious, wholesome food. There are plenty of fish, meat and vegetarian choices, and it all sounded healthy. The only burger on the menu was a beetroot one that came accompanied by flat cap mushroom, tender stem broccoli, hazelnuts and cucumber pickle.
With several Kent Restaurant of the Year awards and two AA Rosettes, I had high expectations of this place. It exceeded my expectations.
Everything tasted fresh, was just the right portion and was well-seasoned. If I had to be picky, I’d say the courgette and ricotta fritters with cucumber and mint yoghurt would have benefitted from a tad more salt added. But my mum had zero complaints, which is high praise in itself as she’s an excellent cook and part-time caterer who understands flavours and pairings more than anyone else I know.
It’s been a couple of weeks since our visit, and my mum has mentioned ‘that beautiful lunch’ several times during our conversations.
Those who love ice cream will be far from disappointed here. I’m one of them, and hands down, the ice cream, again made on the premises, is one of the best I have tasted. I managed to bypass the brown bread flavour for a scoop each of honeycomb and stem ginger. I could have had a proper bowl full of them both in one sitting. But I don’t think my waistline would like that.
The five rooms at The Corner House Canterbury were occupied during our visit and therefore not free for us to have a look at. But from the website pictures, the rooms (Dickens Tourtel, Attic, Chaucer and Becket) look beautiful and are individually decorated with low beamed ceilings, original fireplaces and sloping floors. Guests can enjoy extra time in their rooms with a complimentary tray in the fridge. Discounted parking with a voucher from The Corner House is available at the back of the building.
Canterbury in itself is a great day out, and with Corner House perched at the edge of the city, it makes for a great place to take the weight off your feet. Throughout the summer months, diners can also enjoy a sharing BBQ plate which includes; flat iron steaks, venison sausages, BBQ mayo, chicken kebabs and proper slaw with a garlic and shallot confit spooned onto the steaks for extra flavour. BBQs will be held on weekends throughout the year. Now that is what summer is about.
The Corner House is located at 1 Dover St, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3HD. For more information or to book a meal or a stay, visit cornerhouserestaurants.co.uk.
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