Comfort food with flair

TASTE SENSATIONS: Every Meal is a delight at TN1

TN1 Bar and Kitchen offers the best of British food with a contemporary twist and attention to detail that makes it a must-visit, says Michelle Wood.


As we enter through the doors of TN1 Bar and Kitchen on Monson Street on a chilly spring evening. we are warmly greeted by owners Murat and Tess Askin. They are gracious and hospitable, and Murat shows us to our table tucked in a corner. The restaurant, contemporary and comfortable, is buzzing with patrons. TN1, it seems, is a popular place to be on a Thursday night in late spring. Even the outdoor courtyard is busy.

A man strums on his guitar, and it takes me a good few minutes to realise that the music is live. I’m delighted: Dinner and a show! He is playing all my 80s and 90s favourites ─ my partner and I immediately feel at home. But the restaurant is humming with people of all ages: young groups of friends celebrating birthdays; families with children still in high-chairs and buggies parked beside them; friends getting together for a bite after work, dogs in tow, and couples, like us, getting together after a long day to reconnect. TN1, it seems, means something different for everyone.

Still, we are struck by the size of the restaurant – and although there is a steady stream of waitrons making their way to and from tables, not once did we feel overcrowded.

To set the mood for the evening, we started with cocktails (2 for £12 from 5pm-7pm Monday to Thursday) from their extensive menu : A Royal G&T (Bath Tub Gin, light tonic, orange peel and juniper berries), which offered a well-balanced yet palate-cleansing jumpstart, while my partner opted for the Pantiles Spritz (Strawberry gin, schnapps, lemon juice, white grape and apricot soda), which was sweet, playful and definitely moreish.

When it came to starters, with so many options to choose from, like the specials: Fresh Pacific Oysters served with shallots, vinaigrette and tabasco, or Soft Shell Crab with avocado salsa, chilli and spring onion dress, we finally opted for the King Prawns (shell off, grilled served with garlic, chilli, soy and spring onion dressing), and Moules Mariniere (in white wine garlic and cream). The mussels are an apparent speciality at the restaurant, and I came to understand why. Served in an aromatic steaming terrine with slices of home-made bread, the mussels are not only sea-fresh, but cooked to perfection in the perfect blend of garlic, cream and wine, with a hint of thyme. The sauce was particularly enjoyable – not too thick, so it was not overly rich, yet with all of the decadence of flavour. I mopped up the last drips with my bread. The prawns, too, were perfectly cooked: juicy yet firm – a harmony of flavours that left my partner beyond delighted.

The starter portions were incredibly generous, so it felt appropriate to take a little break between our courses – and TN1 is the perfect place to kick back and relax. Offering regular music nights, the restaurant puts up a regular array of musical talent throughout the week that sets the atmosphere for a great night out.

To pair with our meal, we chose from the winelist a Rosapasso Rosé from Biscardo Italy, a Pinot Nero that is smooth on the palate with notes of fresh strawberry and cherry. It was to be the perfect accompaniment to our mains.

For our mains, my partner chose the treacle-cured pork belly with crackling and pickled savoy cabbage, while I couldn’t resist the 12oz sirloin steak, grilled tomato, field mushroom, peppercorn sauce and chips. And we weren’t disappointed. Again, the proteins were cooked to perfection, my peppercorn sauce was smooth, glassy and lush, yet not once more, too rich, and we enjoyed a meal of good, solid comfort food that still offered a culinary flair and attention to detail that really sets TN1 apart. It is no wonder that TN1 Bar and Kitchen won Best in Food and Drink at the Times Business Awards.

Still, the highlight of the evening was yet to come: The insanely decadent Homemade Apple Crumble, which we shared, along with a Brandy Coffee Courvoisier. A homemade crumble tart, perfectly paired with firm spiced apples made the perfect end to the evening.

As the musician picked his way through ‘Raspberry Beret’, we reluctantly thanked Murat and Tess and headed our way out into the evening, our hearts and bellies full and knowing that we will return again. TN1 Bar and Kitchen is the literally and physically at the heart of Tunbridge Wells and a must-visit for any local and visitor.

TN1 Bar and Kitchen, 33 Monson Rd, is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 12am, Sunday 9am to 9pm, phone 01892 513900 or visit

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