Hotel review: The Faversham Creek Hotel
PUBLISHED: 13:18 04 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:18 04 October 2016
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
The Faversham Creek Hotel is warmly welcoming, enjoys a great setting and its talented young chef make this a real foodie destination
Some places you walk in and just know you’re going to have a happy stay. The Faversham Creek Hotel, set back on a corner site opposite the Shepherd Neame brewery, is a great example.
With a jaunty white and blue-painted exterior adorned with hanging baskets and a front door that opens directly into a cosy bar and reception, where a beaming General Manager Jonathan Reynolds greets me like an old friend, it’s immediately welcoming.
All six bedrooms are charmingly individual and named after colourful local characters – mine is Henry Hatch, one of Faversham’s ‘greatest benefactors’, who made his fortune as a merchant venturer and fishmonger and left his estate to the town. Basically, I’m in a pirate’s quarters, and very shipshape they are too with a navy and white decor, writing desk and neat little shower room with big fat tiles in aqua blue.
I get shown a couple of other rooms, including the magnificent Queen Matilda (she and her husband King Stephen founded an Abbey in Faversham in 1147 and were both buried there). The 7ft cube four-poster and sleigh bath in the bedroom make it a highly popular bridal choice.
The hotel itself is the brainchild of David Selves, who also owns (and transformed) the nearby Phoenix Tavern. Dating back to 1723, when it was a merchant’s house, David and his wife Tracy (pictured) bought this former “lads’ big-screen pub” in 2014 and turned it into a wonderfully individual boutique hotel.
Great touches include fresh flowers in both the bar and comfortable lounge, quirky wallpaper and the opportunity to belong to several drinks clubs (Gin, Whisky & Whiskey and Craft Beer), each with its own loyalty card.
So to dinner in the Red Sails Restaurant, which received its first AA Rosette in April, and deservedly so. I’m eating alone but this is such a friendly place I’m soon chatting with a lovely local couple and when Jonathan (who used to be a butler at Spencer House and has served most members of the Royal family) joins us, it’s a wonder I actually get round to ordering anything I’m having so much fun.
I’m recommended to start with one of the 35 Gins on offer and choose a delicious Anno Kent Dry Gin with Fever-Tree tonic, which I sip while nibbling oven-warm brown hazelnut bread and studying the menus (three for both lunch and dinner, as well as a small bar menu, and at least one dish changes on each menu each week).
Seating 36, each table is named after a Thames barge, from whose sails the restaurant takes its name. It overlooks a suntrap of a courtyard, where you can choose to eat al fresco on a warm spring or summer’s day if you prefer.
From the choice of four starters on the à la carte menu I opt for very tasty roasted quail served with toasted seeds and celeriac, well matched by a glass of Pinot Grigio Luna Cecilia Beretta with delicate floral and almond notes.
My main choice was sole fillets topped with a light, fluffy hazelnut crust, a celeriac purée, wild mushrooms that deserved an award of their own they were so good, vibrantly fresh kale and a drizzle of truffle oil for extra kick.
This was a dish that not only tasted great but felt really good for you – especially paired with a glass of local Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve.
Practically everyone else was ordering the fillet steak and mini oxtail pie, which did look and smell gorgeous; other choices included honey glazed duck breast with pak choi and a veggie option of gnocchi and ceps mushrooms.
For pudding I went for the rhubarb cheesecake with a basil sorbet, a sharply aromatic, refreshing choice with shards of rhubarb and leaves of basil adding their own punch. Accompanied by a glass of fruity ‘Sticky Mickey’ late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, this was another highly accomplished, original dish by talented young chef Scott Pendry in a beautifully judged meal that felt light, fresh, energising and very modern.
Later, much later – David and Tracy joined me after the meal and the hospitality flowed – I climbed up the (very steep, be warned) stairs to a most invitingly comfy bed.
Despite my room being at the front of the hotel, which is currently attracting attention at odd times of day and night as a Pokémon Go hot spot, all was peaceful and I slept through to breakfast – which is definitely not to be missed.
I jotted down that my generous heap of golden scrambled eggs surrounded by a coil of smoked salmon ‘felt like a present.’ Tasted great too. Local jams are in big pots, good coffee by the cup.
Do go, for the food, the friendly atmosphere, the craic – and the creek after which this lovely hotel is named; a perfect place for a ‘morning after’ reviving stroll.
Where: The Faversham Creek Hotel, Conduit Street, Faversham ME13 7DF
01795 533535 or 07842907453. firstname.lastname@example.org
What: Relaxed, welcoming small family-run restaurant with rooms
When: Open for lunch Wed-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, dinner Wed-Sat 6.30pm-9pm, Sun 11am-4pm
How much: Creek set menu: £14.95 two courses or £17.95 for three
Meet the chef
Scott Pendry - Group head chef
Tell us a bit about you
I’m 21 and went to East Kent Catering College in 2011. My first job was as chef de partie in the brasserie at The Swan at West Malling and I then moved to The West House in Biddenden in the same role. I joined the Red Sails in April 2015 and became head chef in July 2016 and group head chef (including The Phoenix Tavern) in August.
What do you love about the job?
I love a challenge, being tested, creating new dishes and pushing the boundaries of food, which we have successfully done at the Red Sails with the ‘chef’s surprise’dish on our Tasting menus. Some might call it vanity but it’s not, it’s pride and satisfaction when I see someone enjoying something I’ve cooked.
To be part of the team which in just a year was awarded four stars and a rosette gave me great pride and I’m working with the team now to look for our second rosette next year. That comes back to liking a challenge.
How do you relax?
My main hobby and relaxation is shooting.
Who are your main suppliers?
David, my boss, has a strong policy of supporting the community, nearly all the builders on the year long project to renovate the building came from Faversham and we buy from Macknade, Village Green Butchers and Hollowshore Fisheries and also have a strong relationship with Chapel Down wines and Curious Brew beers
Your top cookery tip?
Pay attention to detail. Don’t try to be too clever and don’t have flavours and textures that fight each other; make sure they love each other!
Who has influenced you most?
When I was at college we had a guest chef night and several Michelin Star chefs came along. There were four of us chosen to cook with Daniel Clifford, but the others bottled it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure until that point if I wanted to be a chef, but after that I knew I did!
Your must-have kitchen gadget?
My instant answer isn’t a gadget. My hands are the one thing I couldn’t do without and my knife (again not really a gadget) is where most things start.
Who would you love to cook for?
What did you have for breakfast?
I was in early this morning, Sunday, working on a new dish and then I ate it – it was great! But I’m not telling you what it is, I’ve not told David yet!