Nestled at the foot of the Kent Downs and overlooking Westwell village green, the recently re-opened Wheel Inn is an enticing prospect. Charming ivy-clad brickwork frames the warm glow from within, painting an idyllic picture of this rural retreat.
Stepping in from the bitter January air, a welcoming, unhurried atmosphere awaited: friendly staff and relaxed patrons were propped at the bar and a contented dog slept next to a roaring log fire. Owners James and Matt are amiable hosts, bringing with them a fresh approach.
Chef Matthew Bare brings a few touches of his Nigerian and Jamaican heritage to the creative menu, which features some unexpected twists alongside traditional favourites. Mushroom and leek gratin was paired with balsamic pearls, and zesty crabcakes accompanied by fragrant saffron mayo. Smoked chicken stew provided a heady combo of sweet, salty and spicy flavours, with accompanying fresh, earthy spinach mousse. My colleague was rapturous about his pork belly with mash, black cabbage and a punchy calvados jus. The perfectly executed caramel panna cotta and the delicious chocolate and coconut cake were stunning desserts. The owners of The Wheel have struck upon a winning formula, and they deserve the success that’s sure to come their way.