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Our favourite food and drink experiences in Kent

With a nickname like ‘The garden of England’, you’d expect Kent to be absolutely jam-packed with places to eat and drink. And you’d be right! Southeast England is positively rammed full of incredible foodie locations, from wonderful restaurants and cosy pubs, all the way to foraging food and farm-to-table experiences. No matter where you turn, you’ll find somewhere amazing to try out, whether it’s inland or on the coast. So we rounded up a few hidden gems to find whilst you’re exploring this amazing part of the UK.

Copper Rivet Distillery

Just an hour or so from London, you’ll find Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham’s Royal Dockyard. This is an amazing part of England, where the Medway River slips out past The Hoo Peninsula and The Isle of Sheppey through a mix of little islands to The North Sea. Producing Vela Vodka, Dockyard Gin and Son of a Gun Spirit – the distillery uses grain from within 20 miles of the space, which not only helps them control the quality and consistency, but also keeps the carbon footprint down. You can take a tour of the distillery and learn about the UK’s only ‘farm-to-glass distilleries’ – learning how each spirit is made. Best of all, tours end with a tasting in The Pumproom cocktail bar and restaurant next door, where you can carry out your own quality assessment.

Gin tasting on a steam locomotive

All aboard the craft gin train! Hop on a steam train at Tunbridge Wells West and take a little eight-mile tasting jaunt across the Kentish countryside. It’s a return journey, so you’ll get the chance to sample three different gins from Anno Distillery. The first gin distillery in 200 years, Anno opened in 2011, and has been cracking out incredible drinks ever since. To ensure you don’t go hungry (and potentially rowdy), canapés are served along the ride. Your train tickets are valid all day, so if you want to remain onboard the service after your journey, you may need to sit on another part of the train, but you’re more than welcome to!

Foraging and cooking experience

Perhaps you’ve heard of farm to table, maybe even field to fork – but what about landscape to tablescape? Or bush to bowl? Head out to Deal in Kent to find a little seaside town, with more on offer than you’d think. There’s a restaurant on the end of the pier, a rather amazing castle and gardens – and even the opportunity to spend some time learning to forage with chef, Lucia Stuart. Creator of The Wild Kitchen, she offers a number of events and courses to go and forage alongside her – or dine in the wilderness on foraged dishes, from coastal to inland sourcing.

Chapel Down Vineyard

English wine’s having quite the moment – with hundreds of vineyards across the whole of the UK, and many new ones opening every year. Kent itself is one of the most ideal places to grow wine in the UK, with a warmer climate than many areas, and sharing a similar ‘terroir’ to Champagne in France – chalky soils and warm weather which make for some fantastic wine. If you’re in Kent, try out Chapel Down Vineyard, an award-winning sparkling and still wine producer, based near Tenterden. The estate is open to visit, with guided tours, tastings, experiences and events!

Whitstable Oyster Company

The Royal Native Oyster Stores in Kent is the perfect place to grab the freshest of seafood if you’re hankering for some real local delicacies. The restaurant itself is on the beach, and actually overlooks the company’s oyster grounds – where they harvest daily, with a hatchet and either a quad bike or boat. But don’t fret – they replenish the stocks!

If oysters aren’t for you, and as Jonathen Swift put it, “he was a bold man that first ate an oyster” – then there’s plenty of other seafood on the menu. Expect mussels, sprats, squid, crab, whole fishes – the whole fruits de mer.