The Leicester Arms Hotel
High Street, Penshurst, Tonbridge, TN11 8BT
What could be more pleasant than a drive through the beautiful Kent countryside followed by a delicious meal in a 17th-century hotel? After a few stops to admire the views and a visit to nearby Penshurst Place, which the hotel has had links with since 1618, we arrived at The Leicester Arms Hotel. Warm light streamed out from the large windows and we entered through an enchanting Tudoresque gable porch. The delightful interior combines characterful elegance with classical charm. The bustling family-friendly bar draws in locals and visitors alike with roaring fires, squashy leather armchairs, exposed brick and wooden beams. This is perfectly complemented by the light and airy restaurant where stunning views of the gardens and an innovative menu guarantee an enjoyable evening. We started with crispy soft-shell crab with Asian-style slaw and a tart blood orange dressing, and a colourful dish of heritage tomatoes with creamed goat’s cheese. The seasonal menu is comprised using only fresh locally sourced ingredients and the care that goes into every dish is unmistakeable. For my main course I savoured pan-seared duck breast with baby beetroot, earthy Romanesco broccoli and burnt cauliflower purée. My husband opted for succulent pork fillet wrapped in bacon with perfectly crisp crackling, confit potatoes and celeriac purée. Every dish had clearly been meticulously thought out to achieve the perfect balance of complementing flavours and beautiful presentation, making each course a multi-sensory delight. We finished our meal with two indulgent puddings and cups of rich coffee. I couldn’t resist the creamy vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote, while my husband selected sharp lemon tart with delicious blackcurrant sorbet. The charming traditional setting, excellent fare and friendly, efficient staff make this an unbeatable destination for a meal out. Whether you’re planning a special family occasion or a meal with loved ones, you can do no better than The Leicester Arms Hotel. For those planning private events, the sparkling chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling curtains of the function room provide an undeniably classy setting, while for larger events the entire restaurant can be privately hired. The hotel also boasts several characterful bedrooms – perfect for a romantic weekend away.