Review: The Wife of Bath, Wye

PUBLISHED: 14:18 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:18 23 October 2017

Fabulous fish dishes on the menu

Fabulous fish dishes on the menu

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Now owned by renowned restaurateur Mark Sargeant, The Wife of Bath offers an adventurous Northern Spanish-inspired menu, superlative accommodation and effortlessly great service

The attractive restaurant is light and airyThe attractive restaurant is light and airy

The heavens literally opened as soon as I was safely settled in my delightful bedroom at The Wife of Bath. I took it as a good omen – while it thundered and poured dramatically outside, I was warm and dry in what is a very different establishment to the one I last reviewed in 2015.

Much has changed while my back was turned, not least it being acquired and refurbished in 2016 by Mark Sargeant (with business partner Josh De Haan), owner of award-winning Rocksalt in Folkestone and The Duke William Pub in Ickham.

This once quite traditional inn serving modern British cuisine is now a homage to Northern Spanish-inspired dishes and offers diners an exciting adventure possibly outside their comfort zone, but one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

But first to the accommodation – there are five individually furnished en-suite bedrooms, including two in a separate annexe to the rear of the property.

Enjoy tapas and a drink up at the barEnjoy tapas and a drink up at the bar

I’ve stayed in Sir Thopas, the super-king front room before, but it was barely recognisable: the history is unchanged with its vaulted ceiling, beams and sash windows, however the decor is now much less fussy and far more contemporary.

There’s no space-absorbing four-poster but rather a superbly comfy bed with a wrought-iron bedstead and a huge abstract of a bull above it (so much nicer than that sounds), a funky standing clothes rail instead of a wardrobe, a modern sofa with bright button studs, a side stand with a welcome tray of spicy almonds and grapes, a Nespresso and a mini decanter of Sherry with two glasses. The gleaming white bathroom is transformed.

On the landing, cleverly tucked way behind cupboard doors, is a pantry where guests can help themselves to extra towels, toiletries, drinks. Floors are sloping, ceilings low, stairs steep and narrow – it’s full of charm.

Downstairs is an intimate, inviting bar where you can enjoy tapas and a glass of something delicious from the truly eclectic yet accessible drinks menu before moving into the restaurant. Or just pop in for the tapas if you prefer; it’s served all day in the bar.

The welcoming entrace to The Wife of BathThe welcoming entrace to The Wife of Bath

Perched up on a tall stool I chat to manager Ramona Nedelcu over a delicious Gin Mare, before being joined by My Dining Companion and heading for the attractive dining room. Roughly in two halves with an arched divide and wooden floors, a neutral contemporary decor balances ancient beams.

The à la carte menu takes inspiration from the best of Spanish gastronomy: Cataluña, the Basque Country, Cantabria and Galicia.

We soon discover that chef Adam’s dishes are adventurous in both their influence and flavour, perfectly blending the rustic with the refined while showcasing locally sourced pork, poultry, game and south-coast fish.

A selection of amuse bouche sets a very high standard, with the octopus and smoked salmon with beetroot our favourite nibbles.

KEN OCT 17 Review Wife of BathKEN OCT 17 Review Wife of Bath

To follow I pick the deceptively simple looking but in fact highly complex combination of rabbit mixed with chorizo and a chicken mousse, wrapped in a cabbage leave and served with a classic Spanish Romesco sauce. Robust in flavour and so vibrant on cracked blue-grey crockery, it’s a stunner.

MDC had missed out on a cocktail so opted for cantaloupe marinated in Gin Mare instead, and what a transformative effect it has on melon, really bringing out the flavour and sweetness. With wafer-thin Serrano ham and Sevilano oil, it was a work of Mediterranean magic.

More of that delicious Gin found its way into a Seville orange sauce for my main course of perfectly cooked hake served with asparagus and radishes (unexpectedly lovely). Equally splendid was MDC’s lemon sole with a shellfish and saffron broth with a ‘pop’ of aioli.

Desserts are cleverly English re-workings of classic Spanish puddings, including our divinely light almond and quince tart and a bitter chocolate tart made all grown up with Folkestone salt and Sevillano olive oil.

We asked for wine pairings throughout and I can thoroughly recommend that; staff are as well informed on the drinks as the food and service throughout my stay was delightful.

An excellent night’s sleep and I was ready for a Spanish breakfast and, after tasty tortilla with ham, peppers and aioli, I will never ever look at a bowl of cereal in the same way again.

Some places just put a big smile on your face and as I drove off into sunshine after the storm of the night before, I was beaming all over.

Meet the chef

Name: Adam Ashley

Job title: Head Chef

Tell us about you

I have been working as a chef for nearly 12 years now. After starting my career in a three AA-rosette restaurant I moved onto a couple of five-star star hotels and spent four years at Browns Hotel in Mayfair, where I worked my way up to Junior sous chef. I then moved onto Rocksalt in Folkestone and progressed to a senior sous chef and now I’m head chef at their new restaurant, The Wife of Bath in Wye. I have been here for nine months and the best part of my role is the new style of cuisine, using lots of new ingredients and trying new recipes. It’s a challenge I love.

Main suppliers?

Our principal suppliers are Fresher by Miles, Chapmans and Watts Farm; being able to use local suppliers is very important to us.

A signature dish?

I would have to say my rabbit and chorizo. It has been on the menu since we opened and continues to be a popular choice with our guests. The dish may look simple in its presentation but is complex in making and that’s why I love it.

Top cooking tip?

Don’t overcomplicate dishes. Less is more, some of the best dishes are created using only three or four ingredients. Let the main ingredient stand out and be the focus of the dish.

Main influences?

Mark Sargeant, his passion for food is infectious and he always wants the best, and Simon Oakley, the executive chef at Rocksalt. I worked with Simon for nearly 10y ears at Browns Hotel and then again at Rocksalt in Folkestone.

The essentials

Where: The Wife of Bath, 4 Upper Bridge Street, Wye TN25 5AF

01233 812232 or info@thewifeofbath.com

What: Restaurant with rooms

How much: Gin Mare marinated cantaloupe, Serrano ham, virgin Sevillano oil £11.50; Pork collar, olive oil potato, smoked chorizo, courgette and lime £15.50

When: Breakfast 8.30-10.30am, lunch noon to 3pm Mon-Sat, Sun noon to 5pm, dinner 6.30-9.30pm, bar tapas Mon-Sun noon to 9.30pm

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Our competition prize is a Great Inns gift voucher with a value of £250. The voucher must be redeemed before the end of March 2021, against a stay at any of the Inns that are current members of Great Inns of Britain.

Read more
Friday, October 9, 2020

No Sunday is complete without a roast dinner, and in the glorious county of Kent you’ll be spoilt for choice with fantastic places to go. We have picked 12 great places where you can indulge in a roast with all the trimmings

Read more
Monday, September 21, 2020

The hamper includes the original London Dry Gin, the loved Yorkshire Rhubarb Gin and the brand’s latest launch, Slingsby Marmalade Gin.

Read more
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It’s that time again, the Kent Life Food & Drink Awards are open for nominations

Read more
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

From saving money to helping the environment, there are many reasons to embrace shopping local

Read more
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Get a half price meal at these great Kent restaurants, pubs and cafes with the government’s #EatOutToHelpOut scheme

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2020

Our new map shows every Kent restaurant, café and pub taking part in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out money-off scheme

Read more
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

There’s nothing like finding a quiet spot in a beer garden with the sound of a river running along beside you. We have picked 10 places to do just that

Read more
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

From 4th July, pubs will be reopening their doors in the first time for months as lockdown restrictions ease. We’ve gathered some must visit pubs in Kent to revisit

Read more
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Three Thanet fishermen are supplying fresh fish and shellfish direct from their boats and delivering them to people across the entire Thanet area

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Latest from the Kent Life