So today I turned 21.

Grand.

And to celebrate the gift to the world which is my birth, my parents booked in the tasting menu at a locally renowned, truly Kentish restaurant, the Marquis at Alkham.

We opted for the 6 course version over the 4 courses. Because four courses evidently isn’t enough.

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So the nibbles came in the form of lovely crisp bread and aubergine caviar- an aubergine dip. It was incredibly pleasant, and the presentation was rather adorable.

As a vegetarian, five of my six courses were different from my parents, which I’m sure made it rather difficult for the chefs- especially as the restaurant was quite busy. However, as you will see, the execution of each dish really was perfectly done, and you certainly don’t suffer by not eating meat or fish.

b3Next up, this beauty, an amuse bouche of cheese beignet and house doused vegetables.

b4Light, crispy, and delicious.

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We nibbled our bread {the onion bread is particularly loved by my entire family. I think they would sleep, breath and marry the rolls if they could} and chatted and then…

The first course arrived.

b5For me, this meant a very summery plum tomato terrine. Served with goat’s curd, sun gold tomatoes, basil and ransom capers. I’d never tried the capers before- tiny, sure, but they packed such a lovely punch.

b6For my parents, it was a creamy lobster cocktail. served with avocado cream and cherry tomatoes. My father is not a lover of anything from the sea, but he enjoyed this, which speaks volumes, you have no idea.

b7Next for the Carnivores came this lovely little dish. Crisp pig trotters, served with piccalilli, quail eggs and creeping Charlie. Both of them loved this dish, and it really did look vibrant and truly summery.

b9In its place, I had a foraged watercress panna cotta, with beetroot, a cheese crisp, and walnut sauce.

Now, the last time I ate at the Marquis, about a year ago, I also had a watercress panna cotta- but it shared nothing but the name with this one. The last one was watery, and gelatinous. This one was light, and creamy, and like the most beautiful mousse. It was glorious, basically. And look at that colour.

b10Next up came Dover sole, beetroot, fennel, and sea purslane for my parents.

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Again, a truly summery dish, and again, devoured by my father. The sea purslane, which I snaffled from my mother’s plate, was a particular delight because it absorbed the buttery, buttery sauce.

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My lovely alternative was equally visually delightful. Truly giant King mushrooms, a duck’s egg {poached to perfection} charred spring greens, toasted oats and turnip. I love turnips, they’re so underappreciated; these turnips were gorgeous.

b13Meat came next for the parents; chateaubriand of lamb, with confit rib, salardaise potatoes, vegetables, marrow, and a navarin sauce.

The parents went wild for it. Not a scrap was left.

b14

Instead, I had this; a pithivier of Walmanstone {local} vegetables, with spiced aubergine, and globe artichoke.

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Possibly my favourite savoury course? {It’s a toss up between this and the watercress mousse/panna cotta} I loved this; the artichokes, the spiced aubergine, and the spread on which it all sat, which was pretty similar to our aubergine caviar nibble. The pithivier was lovely and light too, stuffed with peppers and courgette in a ratatouille fashion.

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Desserts came next.
My parents had elderflower panna cotta, with gooseberries, meringues, and a langue de chat biscuit.

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Now, because I stole so much of it, I can tell you that the panna cotta was particularly delightful. Elderflower is such a light, fragrant taste. It was creamy and utterly delicious.

b18I was served a different dessert, I think because my menu already featured a {savoury} panna cotta, which was incredibly thoughtful of them.

It was a warm brazil nut cake, with soaked cherries, orange tang, and cherry ripple ice cream.

b19The cake, light and lovely, with the melting ice cream was just lovely. I did notice that the cherry ripple in the ice cream had formed ice crystals, but this didn’t really hinder the dish or make me enjoy it any less.

b20Our second dessert was perfection. Three utterly uniformed raspberry and peach soufflés. Light enough to float away.

b21
Served with meadowsweet ice cream, it was just the perfect way to finish a meal. So light and fresh. And completely decadent.

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I think what I love most about the Marquis at Alkham is the honesty of their food. The produce is local. It’s all about what can be foraged and grown in the beautiful valleys which surround the restaurant.

The ingredients are seasonal, and the dishes are created with that in mind.

The ambience was, as always, pleasant and relaxed. The service was impeccable- with the staff being attentive and welcoming but not imposing. And there was no sense of being rushed- the whole meal took the best part of three and a half hours, and that’s what it needed to be fully enjoyed.

At four courses for £30, or six courses for £55 {although offers pop up from time to time} I really think you’re getting excellent value for money.

If you’re looking to book for something special, or just wanting a nice day out, be sure to give the Marquis at Alkham a look.

The Marquis at Alkham.

Alkham Valley Road | Alkham, Dover CT15 7DF, England.

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