The Pantiles’ newest addition, Kumquat bar & restaurant is serving fusion and flavour with its cuisine-clashing menu that’s already making it a firm favourite with Tunbridge Wells diners. Lilly Croucher went along to sample a taste of its exciting menu…
Asian and European cuisine styles are perenially popular and we certainly have plenty of both on offer here in Tunbridge Wells. But it’s fair to say there’s not too much in the way of ‘fusion food’ – a blending of the two types of cuisine that became a popular culinary phenomenon in the 90s. However, with the launch of a new Pantiles restaurant and bar which has this style of cooking at its heart that could be about to change…
Kumquat is the brainchild of Virginia and Alex Boyd who have combined his French culinary training with Virginia’s experience of growing up in Hong Kong to create a modern Asian twist on classic European dishes.
You don’t have to look at the menu for long to see many classic dishes have been given an enticing and exciting reworking courtesy of Asian ingredients –like French onion soup served with Japanese barbeque sauce for example. This really is going to be a different dining experience altogether…
“Kumquat’s cosy and comfortable vibe is perfect for a light lunch, a family get-together or an intimate meal for two”
Kumquat’s menu is full of intelligent combinations of ingredients which capture the nuance of flavours and marry them in intriguing combinations.
From the minute you enter Kumquat, you’re greeted with a welcoming smile and a pleasant ambience – and incredibly comfortable seating! The aromas of homecooked food waft through the dining room from the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs cook up your dinner. There is also seating available outside where if you’re wrapped up warm enough you can enjoy dining under the twinkle of fairy lights.
Our evening starts with an exciting selection of cocktails which, like the menu, also boast an Asian twist. There’s a sweet and sour Kumquat Mojito (£9), a creamy lemongrass Pina Colada (£10.50) and a tropical One Night in Bangkok (£9.50). Most of the cocktails are also available as mocktails (£5).
The fusion inspired menu continues with fried cauliflower in tomato and chilli (£5.50) and Thai style prawn ceviche (£7.50). The traditional French confit duck leg in a Korean marinade and sweet soy dressing (£8) is deliciously sweet and aromatic, with textures perfectly balanced between the softness of the duck meat and crispiness of the lettuce. The lemongrass cured salmon (£10.50) is also a beautifully light starter of citrusy fish with a complementary creamy dressing.
The Main Event
You’ll be hard pushed to choose between the roasted sea bass fillet in Asian herbs and spices (£16) and fusion katsu with jasmine rice (pork escalope (£14.50). For vegetarians there’s dishes like sweet potato and aubergine (£12) as well as a spiced black bean burger with tofu mayo (£9.50) available from the menu.
For meat lovers, the Korean marinated rib-eye steak in Japanese barbeque sauce (£32) and the 12-hour slow-cooked pulled-beef bulgogi (£10.50) will certainly satisfy an appetite. A popular lunch treat is Kumquat’s fusion bao bun with a choice of pork belly, tiger prawns or garlic mushroom (£11.50).
Inspired by Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s famous splattered desert, the Oop’s I dropped the Kumquat tart! (£7.50) is the Jackson Pollack of sweets with homemade ice-cream and custard splattered with Kumquat marmalade. For the chocoholics there is the beautifully rich chocolate and hazelnut and coffee delice (£7.50) plus a delightful selection of homemade cakes.
Kumquat’s cosy and comfortable vibe is perfect for a light lunch, a family get-together or an intimate meal for two. On our visit we experienced not only delicious and very reasonably priced food, but really friendly service too.
The perfect ingredients to ensure the future success of this great new foodie addition to Tunbridge Wells…