A lazy afternoon in Sevenoaks
Our wallets were still suffering from post-Christmas over-spend trauma, we’d had an unsettling week at work and we really couldn’t be bothered to re-start our ongoing DIY projects. But maybe the biggest reason for our spontaneous little outing was that, surprise surprise, it wasn’t raining.
We’re quite lucky to have a few pretty little Kentish villages within a 20 minute radius of where we live… Eynsford is one of our favourite places especially in the summer months. The Plough there could really be a lovely country pub/restaurant if they could only get their menu to taste as good as it sounds! Otford is another village that we love, the duck pond is proper picture postcard. They even have fairy lights draped throughout the high street, without it even being Christmas.
This time we decided to go beyond these two villages and go to discover Sevenoaks. We didn’t even make our usual pit-stop at The Hop Shop (at Castle Farm) to see what wonderful produce they had to offer. The reason for our haste was that it was getting a little late in the day. And we were very aware of the fact that shops in towns like Sevenoaks have very random Sunday opening hours. That’s if they even open at all!
We parked in one of the two bigger car parks, which is free on a Sunday and wandered towards the main High-street. Straight away an Italian deli/restaurant caught our eye. Valentina is a family run affair, the deli has an incredible range of Great Taste Award winning oils, olives, cakes, pasta and snacks. They even sold Taralli, a savoury biscuit that we discovered in Puglia whilst staying at the fab Trullo Fico.
An eye over the menu and a rumble of our tummies convinced us to risk a late lunch and sacrifice browsing the shops. We were so glad that we took the gamble.
Saff ordered a couple of starters as her main course. The Primavera, £2.75, contained blush tomatoes, artichoke, mushrooms, chopped garlic and olives all swimming in a great quality oil. This was paired with the Bruschetta Toscana, £5.95, an incredible plateful of stewed Cannellini beans and Tuscan sausage served on toasted ciabatta bread, drizzled with extra virgin garlic oil. More than big enough to pass for a main.
I went for the Paccheri Amatriciana, £8.95, short tube pasta with diced cured pork and a rich onion ragu, sprinkled with Pecorino Romano and fresh parsley. The perfect example of fresh, delicious yet simple Italian cooking.
Even the fizzy pop (both £2.25) was more exciting than run-of-the-mill canned soft drinks. My Chinotto, a bitter cola, tasted just like a non alcoholic Negroni. While Saff’s Rosso Dolce, fizzy red orange, was like Tango without the flavour enhancing steroids! They have a great app too, which at the time of our visit, was offering 50% off, unfortunately, we didn’t see this until it was too late.
We settled up and headed out to see what shops we’d missed. Steer clear of the main high-street (apart from Valentina) and explore the back and side streets for the independent stores. We found a real rarity, a record shop! A real record shop that sells actual records, not just computer games, t-shirts or overpriced headphones…
There’s also a cute chocolate shop, some homes/gift/nic nac shops and a kitchen gadget shop. But our favourite find was ‘COOK‘ which prepares restaurant quality meals that are flash frozen and can be delivered straight to your door. We took a ‘menu’ from outside the shop and, so impressed by the selection, ordered a few bits and bobs for freezer emergencies.
I couldn’t resist the Beef Wellington, £20 for two, fillets of prime British beef, topped with porcini and chestnut mushroom and a mild horseradish sauce. Saff wanted to try the Chicken, ham and leek pie, £6.99, tender breast meat in a white wine sauce topped with a melt-in-the-mouth shortcrust pastry (easily serves two).
Dessert was an easy option, Bramley Apple and Blackberry Crumble, £3.25. You really can’t go wrong with a good comforting crumble, especially one that is frozen pre baked to give it even more of a home-made feel. To order COOK online and to see their full range, click here…
We will have to return to Sevenoaks (when it’s open!) if only to enjoy another meal at Valentina and check out the independent shops. But we have another reason now too, for on the way home we passed The Vine. The warm, cozy light emitting from this welcoming restaurant grabbed us like a tractor beam and tried to pull us in.
Using all our willpower, we managed to resist and continued on our way. But The Vine is now another place on our ‘to visit’ list. So when our wallets recover and maybe it’s not quite so cold, we’ll definitely be heading their way.
Here’s a little fact that I found whilst looking for a picture of Sevenoaks… John Lennon was inspired to write For the benefit of Mr. Kite by a 19th century circus poster that he purchased in an antique shop on 31 January 1967, while filming the promotional video for “Strawberry Fields Forever” in Sevenoaks. Lennon explained: “Everything from the song is from that poster, except the horse wasn’t called Henry.”
143 High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1UX
7 Black’s Yard, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1DS
11 Pound Lane, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 3TB