A fairly new addition to Canterbury’s cobbled streets, The Refectory Kitchen now boasts queues of hungry brunchers spilling out of its doors most days. They are doing so well in fact, that they will soon be opening for dinner services in the evening. The current menu is an all-day breakfast/ brunch and a separate lunch menu, served after midday.
Situated a stone’s throw away from the famous Westgate Towers on St Dunstan’s Street, The Refectory Kitchen is a small family run business, priding themselves on using locally sourced products. Their design is contemporary yet kooky, with bright leaf print wallpaper, bare brick walls, wooden beams and panelling throughout.
The walls are decorated with quirky prints, lavishly outlined with golden frames, and the chairs and tables resemble that of an old fashioned classroom. As you walk in, the tiny ‘bar’ is to the left, equipped (most importantly) with their coffee machine. The back walls behind the bar are adorned with white-washed wooden panelling and box shelves. A huge fireplace breaks the small eatery almost in two, with further seating situated around the back.
We were greeted with a warm welcome when we arrived and were told the waiting time was about 10 minutes for a table for four. They don’t take bookings for brunch at weekends, so we already knew it was unlikely we’d be seated immediately. We were happy to wait and luckily a table was free in the window for us to sit and have a coffee.
The coffee is the BEST I’ve had in Canterbury so far. I ordered a hazelnut soya latte, which was sweet and creamy and made to perfection. My mum went for a flat white, which was served in a glass, just like the many coffees I’d drunk in Melbourne’s famous cafes! She also raved about the quality of her cup 🙂
For brunch, we all chose something different, so it was great to see how everything was presented. My dad went for a classic home-cured bacon sandwich, whereas my mum opted for the chargrilled pepper and courgette rosti with wilted spinach, poached duck egg and roast tomato chutney. I went for the courgette rosti, but I scrapped the egg and added homemade beans instead! My sister went for a sweet option and topped her buttermilk pancakes with banana and syrup. You can browse the full menu here 🙂
Everyone seemed very happy with their choices – the rosti and pancakes were particularly popular. The bacon sandwich was ‘just a bacon sandwich’ according to my dad, and he happily helped my sister polish off the pancakes. The rosti was a great choice – filling but not too greasy – and the homemade beans were great. The sweet yet tangy tomato relish went down well with everyone, and we all left feeling satisfied (except maybe my dad!).
On another trip to Canterbury, I decided to take a couple of my friends to The Refectory Kitchen as they’d never been before. Both chose options from the all-day brunch, but I was keen to sample their lunch menu. One opted for the ‘Eggs Royale’; poached eggs with in-house cured and smoked salmon on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce. The other chose a smoked mackerel and poached egg dish that no longer features on their menu.
I went for the ‘Salt Baked Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad’ with french beans, garlic croutons and pickled cucumber.
My friends both loved their choices and I thoroughly enjoyed my salad. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like, what seemed at first, a rather strange combination. BUT, the crunchy homemade croutons and warm beetroot went just perfectly with the smooth tangy goats cheese. Goats cheese and beetroot has long been known as an epic combination, but I really liked the fact the beetroot was warmed and tasted fresh – not like the vac-packed stuff you get in the supermarket. The addition of homemade pickles and croutons definitely lifted the salad and made it a little more ‘interesting’!
For vegetarians, there are plenty of options – especially within the brunch menu where over half of the choices are veggie. On the lunch menu, there’s the option of soup, an artichoke heart and parmesan frittata or a grilled halloumi and roasted vegetable sandwich (classic). For vegans, choices are a little limited – eggs and cheese appear a lot on their menu! However, it seems like many of the dishes (if not all) are made to order, so I imagine it’s pretty easy to ask for a combination of dairy free options. Foods that you could order include: toast, spinach, homemade beans, butternut squash, potato, mushrooms, tomatoes and the roasted veg that comes with the halloumi sandwich. They were very happy for me to make swaps on my meal, so don’t be afraid to ask for your own concoction!
I would definitely recommend a visit if you find yourself in Canterbury – even if just for for one of their lovely coffees 🙂 Hopefully next time I’m in Kent, they will have started their dinner services so I can go back and sample that too!