Review: The Old Bank, Westerham
The Old Bank is cooking up a storm in the picturesque village of Westerham with fine dining and cocktails in uber-stylish surroundings. Muddy Kent editor, Ali, sampled the goodies - with me in tow!
Cooking up a storm in the picturesque village of Westerham, near Oxted, is this fine dining restaurant for meat eaters, veggies and vegans alike. And, as if you needed any more reason to visit, Chef and owner, Adam, is currently finalist for Chef of the Year in the Kent Life Food and Drink Awards.
Armed with a two-hour window in the diary (and an elasticated waistband) I took one for the team and headed there for a long overdue Muddy review.
The Old Bank is situated on the Market Square in bustling Westerham, between Sevenoaks and Oxted, and moments from the M25. It’s just on the Kent side of the border with Surrey and my lunch companion was friend and colleague, Amber, the Muddy Surrey editor – as this made the perfect meeting spot.
There is paid parking directly outside the front of the restaurant but these spaces are few and far between or there’s is parking opposite in the Kings Arms Hotel (again this has a fee).
But your easiest option is what Amber and I both did – head to Darenth Car Park (postcode TN16 1BS) – you can then walk up to Market Square from here in less than 10 mins. You’ll follow signs down a little side alley and then through the church yard and with a bit of luck pop out on the high street.
As the name suggests this restaurant is built in the town’s old bank, which is quite fun and downstairs the beautiful Vault has been transformed into a unique wine cellar. The restaurant area itself is a little bit swanky, but also unpretentious. It’s just not a roaring fire and low beams cosy pub kind of place – think city fine dining (with the added bonus being that there’s no need to travel into London for it).
The Old Bank is the perfect spot for a special occasion dinner or celebratory lunch. Even if you are not celebrating, just find an excuse to spoil yourself and sample some fine dining, wine or cocktails in uber-stylish surroundings.
Same rules apply as you’ll currently find in most eateries – masks on as you enter, which can be removed once you are seated (although if you get up to pop to the loo they must go on again). There’s also discreet screens separating each table (see above).
SCOFF & QUAFF
The restaurant opened in November 2018, by husband and wife team Adam and Emma who both grew up in Sevenoaks with long family histories in the area.
Chef Adam Turley has a life-long passion for food and a love for fresh, seasonal and regional ingredients. And the style is contemporary British cuisine, influenced by French techniques.
Delicious menus change with the season and to sound a bit Masterchef, the presentation of the dishes is stunning.
I chose a veggie main – Artichoke Barigoule (see above) on a bed of lentils with a delicious tangy Green Tomato sauce. Amber went for Line caught Wild Sea Bass with Salt baked Celeriac (see below) which tasted as good as it looked.
The food here is definitely the star – not surprising as Adam has impressive Chef credentials. His passion for food began growing up in his parents’ pubs around the Sevenoaks area. He then spent three years at the Wentworth Golf Club working under Mark Flannagan (now Executive Chef at Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty the Queen).
He then moved to The Waterside Inn, Bray, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant, where he was mentored by worldwide acclaimed chefs Michel Roux Senior and his son Alain. Adam then spent 10 years as Head Chef at Bluebells Restaurant in Sunningdale, claiming numerous accolades and awards.
But I digress! Back to the puddings! Introducing my Almond, Kentish Honey & Chocolate Chip Souffle (with Toasted Almond Ice Cream) and Tonka Bean and Black Fig Bavarois (with Aerated Chocolate, Fig leaf Ice Cream) for Amber.
Everything we ate – from the bread and (chicken skin or salted) butter before our Mains, through to the ice cream with the Desserts is handmade on site in the restaurant.
It’s no surprise that The Old Bank restaurant has made the Westerham high street a go-to destination for foodies in the town, Kent and the surrounding counties.
OUT & ABOUT
Westerham is a destination in itself with a charming high street packed with small independent boutiques, homewares shops and vintage stores – so definitely worth a mooch around.
If you fancy a countryside walk, head up the stone steps and along footpath opposite the Westerham Green, crossing a small bridge across the River Darent to an open grassy (and often muddy!) field. There are walking routes you can follow, or you can just take a wander. And of course Winston Churchill’s former home, Chartwell is also not far – you could nip along in the car, or there’s a 4-mile out-and-back walk from Westerham Green.
Like the idea of being served fine dining food without having to leave the house? They will soon be LAUNCHING THEIR ‘AT HOME’ MEALS FOR CHRISTMAS DAY and NEW YEARS EVE. Priced at £40 (for 3 courses) OR £30 (for 2 courses) the meals come prepared oven ready for you to finish off at home with simple instructions. Check back here for more details.
Good for: Fine dining, imaginative, special occasion lunch and dinner for anyone wanting something beyond a gastropub offering.
Not for: Kids (this is an adult environment), early week diners (it’s closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays), or people who want a cosy gastropub experience or huge portions.
The damage: Not the cheapest but well worth it. The Set Lunch Menu – 2 courses £25 or 3 courses £28 is really good value for the quality. 8-course Tasting Menu / Vegan Tasting menu £75 (including wine flight £110). A la Carte: 2 courses £42; 3 courses £55.
Open Thurs to Sat Lunch 12pm – 3pm; Dinner 6:30pm – 10pm and Sun all-day 12pm – 8pm. The Old Bank, 8 Market Square, Westerham, Kent, TN16 1AW. Tel: 01233 659890