A fine approach to contemporary dining
7th September 2019
Forget about going to London to sample exquisite food which comes highly recommended by the Michelin Guide. You can do so on your doorstep thanks to the fact acclaimed chef Scott Goss is now trading in Tonbridge. Eileen Leahy finds out more about his highly successful start-up restaurant Verdigris
Talented chef Scott Goss is a veteran of the foodie scene having worked in it for the past two decades. Cutting his culinary teeth at Thanet College in Broadstairs where he trained from the age of 16, the Kentish chef then spent four years in London working in a number of high profile restaurants including City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square under the mentorship of Gary Rhodes. With his star firmly in the ascendant he then went to join the kitchens of Anton Edlemann at the Allium in Bath and Robert Spencer at The Admiralty in London, honing his craft in the disciplines of French, European and modern British cuisine.
In 2007 he decided to move back to Kent and took up a job as Head Chef at The Swan in West Malling, where he quickly gained two prestigious AA rosettes. There he met one of the restaurant’s partners Pete Cornwell and when entrepreneur Pete decided to establish I’ll Be Mother, a new independent restaurant group, Scott joined him as creative director overseeing the menus at The Beacon in Rusthall and The Swan in Tenterden. He was also given the test kitchen restaurant The Twenty Six in Southborough to launch in 2014.
Scott used his culinary midas touch there and enjoyed a very successful few years turning The Twenty Six into one of the area’s must-visit restaurants. In 2017 it made it into the much revered foodie bible the Michelin Guide, which described its food offering as ‘satisfying, seasonal modern dishes’ adding ‘you’ll wish you could try everything on the menu.’
But after working for many others over the years Scott decided it was high time for him to branch out on his own and so last year opened Veridgiris in Tonbridge after – rather mysteriously saying – ‘an opportunity’ came his way.
“I enjoy the challenges of opening a new restaurant,” says Scott and so far his gastro kitchen which is located on the bridge in town overlooking the river Medway has been very well received.
“The number one comment we keep getting is that Tonbridge has been crying out for a place like this,” laughs Scott, who has brought back to life the original building’s art deco character. Step inside and you’ll enjoy seeing the oversized palms, grand gilt mirrors and bistro style tables and ornate panelling.
Respect for life
“Food is the beating heart of Verdigris,” he continues. “We believe that what we eat impacts directly on our well-being. We also believe that a respect for life, a sense of gratitude and a loving touch contribute to the taste and health-giving properties of food.”
On the Verdigris à la carte menu, which Scott says is constantly evolving and appeals to a variety of palates, you’ll find delicacies such as fresh oysters and 80 day aged rib of beef alongside smoked aubergine risotto, crab and tomato brioche and breast and loin of lamb with artichoke and black olives.
Then there’s the Scott Goss tasting menu on which you’ll find smaller versions of some of the à la carte menu accompanied by a variety of perfectly partnered wines. As you’d expect from a chef of Scott’s calibre, exceptional taste and exquisite presentation are key. And he’s certainly achieving those goals given how word is getting around about the impressive quality of a dining experience at Verdigris.
“One couple came down from Manchester when we first opened specifically to eat in the restaurant,” says Scott, who appeared on the BBC2 show The Great British Menu last year.
“The Rémy Martin Dessert Competition has also been great for getting our name out there.” Scott and his barman Jim Harrison entered the contest run by one of the world’s finest cognac houses in April this year when the industry’s pastry chefs and sommeliers were asked to enter #RémySprint (Rémy Sommelier Pâtissier Rooted In Talent). Rémy Martin wanted to ‘shine a light on the humble dessert moment’. So Scott and Jim got their creative thinking caps on and created an unforgettable sweet. Their efforts saw them win, along with four other establishments which include Sketch and The Connaught in London.
“The inspiration for our dessert was a walk through a Kentish field inspired by Mother Nature and our own home terroir,” explains Scott when describing his incredible creation, which is split into two parts.
First up is an elderflower, wood sorrel and tabory sorbet, served with wild strawberry consume (inside a round transparent glass). The second part is a white chocolate and pea truffle with tempura elderflower, which is designed to be enjoyed with Rémy Martin XO neat.
“We wanted to showcase the drink throughout the seasons with seasonal fruit so it’s relevant throughout the year, so it will work for autumn fruit like plums too,” says Scott of his pudding masterpiece.
If you want to experience a taste of it then the good news is you can from October until Christmas at Verdigris before Scott, Jim and the other finalists head off to enjoy the ultimate trip to Cognac in January 2020 courtesy of Rémy Martin.
Impressive competition wins aside, Scott is clearly loving running his own place given his enthusiasm and also being at the heart of a fledgling foodie offering outside of London.
“The current food scene in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells is the strongest it’s ever been. There are some fantastic eateries including Fuggles, 65mm Coffee, The Beer Seller boys, The Bicycle Bakery, The Twenty Six, The Beacon, Thackery’s and The Small Holding at Kilndown. We love what we do.” Viva Verdigris I say…
Respect and gratitude for life in every form
Harvest sustainable ALWAYS
Free range, organic, local and wild caught a priority
Minimum waste possible
Never forget that Mother Nature is and always will
be the true artist
To sum up the dining experience at Verdigris in one sentence: Exceptional food and drink in a fun and relaxed environment
Tim at Oliver Greens in Rusthall
Sankey’s Fishmongers in Tonbridge
Chapman’s Fishmongers in Sevenoaks
Longcroft and Old in Farringdon