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Zagatos at The Spa Hotel

PUBLISHED: 15:45 31 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:45 31 October 2014

Zagatos Bar & Brasserie

Zagatos Bar & Brasserie

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

The bar and brasserie at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells is settling in nicely after its summer launch

A new addition to The Spa Hotel has provided a fresh alternative to the fine dining offered by its renowned Chandelier Restaurant.

Now both visitors to and residents of the Tunbridge Wells stalwart can enjoy a more informal meal in Zagatos Bar & Brasserie.

Following a complete makeover in 
June the bar (which retains its former name, inspired by The Aston Martin 
V12 Zagato), has been extended to create 
a 50-cover, relaxed-style brasserie.

Executive head chef Neil Wiggins looks after both the brasserie and restaurant, 
so you get the same quality of food and service wherever you choose to dine.

Zagatos is now almost twice the size, thanks to a dividing wall between the bar and a former small function room being knocked through to create a larger space.

Smartly redecorated in green, chrome and white, it is essentially long and thin, with a contemporary central bar flanked by several eating areas all in different styles.

My Artist Friend and I had to move around quite a bit to find a table that wasn’t too wide for a chat across, and chairs that were neither too high nor too low for us, but after we’d finished re-enacting Goldilocks, settled down on a green velour banquette to sample the autumn menu.

Manager Mark Rankin looked after us very efficiently and we left the choice of wines in his capable hands. A Shiraz 2011 Pinotage with my starter of celery and apple with a Roquefort dressing and toasted walnuts worked notably well with the creamy richness of the cheese and the contrasting sharpness of the salad.

MAF’s salt and pepper squid was given 
a lively kick with the Thai-influenced addition of chilli and lime and a robust Cabernet Sauvignon rose to the challenge.

Star of the show, however, was definitely his tender, slow-cooked ox cheek in red wine (“as black as a pirate’s heart”), with the contrast of creamy mash and bacon lardons, a hearty, seasonal feast that was matched well by another Cabernet, this time a big-hitting Spanish Raimat Abadia.

My fillet of stone bass was a tad on the skimpy side, but tasty, nicely seasoned and I loved the vivid splash of pumpkin purée and a scattering of seeds. A glass of Tierra Sauvignon Blanc was an excellent pairing.

If you have a very sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy dessert. MAF found his blackberry and apple crumble with clotted cream and blackberry coulis far too sugary, while my warm chocolate fondant oozed prettily but I felt there were just too many elements competing for attention (odd crumbly caramel bits) on the oyster-shaped plate.

Zagatos is definitely one to watch and from observing the other diners there on a mid-week evening, some had just popped in for a drink, some for a snack, some like us for the full works, but everyone looked very relaxed and very much at home. n

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