The Secret Garden is one of those restaurants that once you have found it, you can’t wait to tell other people about it. A few weeks ago my family had a surprise lunch for my sister in law who recently got married in the Glass House there and it was the perfect setting. The restaurant is in the former stables of the Mansion House, which is in Ashford in the Kent countryside. The Glass House, which is on the side of the main building and looks out onto the garden seats 26 and is a really beautiful and relaxing place to eat. The décor is the perfect mix of shabby chic with brilliant sunshine. Statues and antique-looking watering cans and crowns sit alongside the palms and flowers inside the room. I loved the way all the chairs and cushions were mixed and matched and we were surrounded by vines (complete with bunches of grapes and figs growing inside), not to mention the pear trees growing on the pretty terrace just outside the main restaurant, both of which overlook the gardens.
We chose from the set menu, which had plenty of choice. I had the delicious plaice, but it was the Chocolate praline torte that I absolutely loved. There is a kid’s menu available but our daughters had mini meals from the main menu. All the ingredients are either grown in the gardens or are sourced locally in Kent. The cakes and amazing breads are baked and are fresh out of the oven at noon everyday – so lunch is the perfect time to visit.
The restored Victorian walled garden, edged with apple trees is where they grow all the seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as flowers and herbs for the restaurant to cook with. There’s a lawn, which gives you a place to walk off your lunch and where you can see all the vegetables growing. Don’t tell anyone but my daughters spotted their giant raspberries when they were playing along the fence and I don’t think there is enough to make a pavlova with anymore!
On your way out, don’t forget to buy a homemade cake or a jar of jam - they’re absolutely delish!
Visit The Secret Garden, Mersham-Le-Hatch Business village, Hythe Road, Ashford, Kent, TN25 5NH Tel: 01233 501 586
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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor
View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor