The Pig is the newest in Mr and Mrs Smith's litter, with now a six-property portfolio and a reputation for some of the best British food in the country. The menu concept is simple: where possible every ingredient must have been sourced within 25 miles of the property.
With locations in the New Forest, Bath, Poole and now Canterbury, each menu is different and not only does it change with the seasons but with the weeks, too. Along with the Group Director, James Golding, Head Chef Kamil Oseka has lead the kitchen at The Pig from the start. Now he brings his expertise to Bridge Place, foraging for the best ingredients in the second hottest part of England.
Wander through the on-site vegetable garden and you’ll find immaculately preserved and well-loved beds hosting everything from kale to tomatoes, orange-mint to thyme (the last of which you’ll also spot infusing the olive oil on restaurant tables and in the bottles of gin at the bar).
“Fruit grows earlier here than anywhere else in the country and I work a lot more with fish than I did in Bath or the New Forest,” he says. “Where possible we grow our own vegetables on site and for everything else we use local farmers and suppliers in the area.”
It’s a concept that’s gradually catching on as restaurants and hotels around the UK and Europe begin to champion a ‘farm-to-table’ concept that promises to give back to the land. The Pig is a pioneer in this area and eight years of practice makes it a clear leader in the market. Aside from giving back to the local community, having ingredients so readily available means not having to order in bulk and ensures each dish is as fresh and flavoursome as possible.
Waste is minimal and Oseka puts it down to working so closely with the farmers. “When you see the love and time that goes into nurturing vegetables you don’t want to throw them away,” he says. “We preserve a lot of ingredients, too. I love to pickle vegetables and fruit is easily preserved.”
It allows for the concept to continue throughout the colder months of the year and while Oseka switches up the menu multiple times a week, he also plans ahead, working with the farmers to find out what’s likely to be in season and how the options available to him will differ.
“In Bath there’s a lot of game but no water close by so dinner options were more meat-heavy than they are here,” he says. “Now I can experiment with fish more. There are also a lot of sea vegetables around – something that I hadn’t used much before.”
The Pig’s other sustainable choices
But it’s not just the food that’s consciously chosen at The Pig. Kentish gins add to the authenticity of the menu and a lengthy wine and champagne list celebrates local vineyard, Simpsons. Coasters and table mats are cut from pre-used paper menus and locally-sourced vegan soap can be found in each hotel bathroom as well as Bamford toiletries, which are certified organic by the Soil Association.
But whether you’ve booked an overnight stay or not, a visit to The Pig at Bridge Place will leave you feeling wholesome and at ease. Peaceful and serene with quality and passion at its core and a team of friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming staff throughout the property, it’s no wonder the restaurant has been fully booked since it opened its doors in May 2019.
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For more information, visit The Pig at Bridge Place’s website.
Words: Sarah Leigh Bannerman