Located in Faversham, just a 20 minute drive from the centre of Whitstable is the absolute gem Read’s Restaurant, part of Macknade Manor. Our reservation was made after a rave review from a friend who pitched it as ‘Michelin quality without the price tag’! We went on a Friday afternoon for a family lunch as part of a celebratory weekend in Whitstable.
Read’s is located in a beautiful Georgian country house set within its own grounds. Parking is available although we did secure two of the last spaces for our 1pm reservation. Cars did then precede to park in front of the house, unfortunately ruining our photo opportunity!
Upon entry you are taken through to their lounge area and invited to order drinks and have a leisurely look through the menu. There is a tasting menu available (£65) as well as a three course lunchtime set menu (£32). We decided on the latter.
From what we could see, there were three main seating areas in different rooms on the ground floor, with three to five or so tables in each. We were taken through to the more relaxed of the three, which suited us, situated in the extension to the main body of the house. We had a huge square table which accommodated our group of five adults and a toddler perfectly and we enjoyed taking a look at the artwork adorning the walls.
There were four starters and four mains to choose from on the lunchtime set menu and between our party we sampled three of each. Each person raved about their choices so we don’t think you can go far wrong!
A bread basket was offered which had a choice of white, fruit and nut or olive breads served with deliciously salted butter.
Becca decided that it was definitely a “pig out” day and selected the pulled pork croquette to start as well as pork for main, served with a cauliflower puree, baby gem lettuce, Berny potatoes, pickled cauliflower and a pork jus. They’d run out of the pork fillet and so replaced it with pork belly which was no problem. Both dishes were delicious but the main was absolutely exceptional. The flavours were delicate, intense, plentiful and it was served very creatively.
Ali mixed things up a bit with the smoked haddock ‘Arnold Bennett’ tart to start followed by confit Gressingham duck for main, served with squash, braised red cabbage and toasted hazelnuts. Each dish was really tasty but again the main stole the show. The arrangement was so colourful and each element so full of flavour, working together in harmony.
Most of the table opted for the blackberry soufflé with muscovado sugar ice cream for dessert having seen it arrive at other tables. We all agreed it was not a dessert we have very often or can easily recreate at home. It didn’t let us down, it was another excellent choice.
At times the service was slightly haphazard. The waiting staff aimed to serve up dishes smoothly and elaborately without asking what each person at the table had ordered. Unfortunately, they got it wrong and we ended up having to swap all the dishes around! However, this was more a source of amusement rather than an issue.
The dessert options were described by the waitress rather than having a written menu to ponder over. Listening to the four different options was a little tricky with our 95 year old Grandad whose hearing isn’t at its peak. Again, not a major problem but something that could be improved.
After the desserts, Grandad received a decorated chocolate plate and a couple of fudge pieces accompanied by a rendition of Happy Birthday. A small token but much appreciated. It goes to show they had paid attention to the note placed on our booking which, based on experience, can often go unnoticed in top London restaurants.
Overall the staff were friendly and accommodating, without the air of pretension that can sometimes be present at this type of establishment.
Family friendly environment
Read’s certainly welcomed and properly accommodated children which was a bonus. Upon being shown to our table, it was really lovely to see that Sienna had been given her own place setting and a beautiful wooden high chair (no plastic monstrosity here!). There was also ample space to have her pram next to the table with our wishful thinking that she may nap!
There isn’t an official children’s menu at Read’s so we’d taken a prepared food pouch for ease. However, the chef was extremely happy to provide a fresh tomato and chicken pasta dish. It went down an absolute treat and turned out to be free of charge which was a nice surprise. Read’s is more formal than what we’d normally go with Sienna in tow and so the family friendly welcome was so appreciated.
The three course lunch menu is exceptional value at £32 per head and is available Monday to Friday.
There is an extensive wine list with bottles starting from £28 so something to suit all tastes and budgets! The most expensive on offer being a bottle of Champagne priced at £5,000 – we wonder how long that has been there?!
Our bill came to £230 for the set lunch for five, a bottle of wine, three G&Ts, two soft drinks and service, working out at £46 per adult. Between us we’ve been to many fine dining restaurants and this was certainly exceptional, even more so considering the value for money!
Top tip: we only discovered afterwards that you are able to explore the kitchen garden to see where a lot of the produce is grown. This would be a nice way to round off a lovely meal.
If you find yourself planning a trip to the area, make sure you stop by at Read’s. The house also has a small number of guest rooms if you fancy extending your visit!