St Leonard’s is a new restaurant which opened in West Malling in June 2021. It’s located in a beautiful Grade II listed building in Swan Street (previously home to Amano and, going back even further, to The Lobster Pot pub).

Pamela and I arrived early for lunch at 1pm and received a cheerful greeting from Terry, owner and front of house. The restaurant has a formal but relaxing ambience with comfy chairs, nicely spaced tables, and natural lighting. Contemporary artwork and tactile materials – linen napkins and soft cushions  – add to the warmth.

St Leonards has an eclectic drinks menu, with some great gin and rum based cocktails, and fine wines. There is an excellent value set menu priced at £21 for two courses, or £25 for three and an a la carte menu. St Leonard’s are also open for brunch with a special menu. Joint owner and head chef Tom uses high quality, seasonal produce which is sourced locally where possible.

 Feeling hungry, we chose the tempura nori salmon roll with wasabi mayo and soy caviar as a nibble before the first course arrived – these surprised us by arriving warm and were so scrumptious that we’d eaten two before we thought to take a photo! For starters Pamela chose the cured mackerel which came accompanied by a sweetened beetroot puree and horseradish cream. I plumped for the lobster and crab ravioli – the pasta was as light as a feather, packed with flavour and swimming in a deliciously rich lobster sauce. Starters are priced between £10 and £16 and other options included a goat cheese parfait and a veal carpaccio.

All the main courses sounded mouth-watering. I was torn between the roast monkfish with Jerusalem artichokes and the cured cod, whilst Pamela was immediately drawn to the sirloin with beef dripping chips. Pamela’s beef melted in the mouth, and she loved the peppercorn sauce and caramelised shallot. My cod was perfectly cooked, on a bed of buttery, crème fraiche mash and kale with an unusual but perfect accompaniment of brown shrimp and cockles. We had sides of colourful, sweet heritage carrots and green beans with toasted almonds. Main courses cost between £19 and £27 and other choices include parmesan gnocchi and venison haunch.

During the meal we chatted with a friendly couple on our neighbouring table who were admiring the heritage carrots. They told us that they had recently started an allotment which had given them a lot of pleasure growing their own produce during lockdown.

The dessert menu had some amazing choices including salted caramel cream with chocolate delice, a Viennese shortbread sandwich and a petit four box. We chose the creme brulee and a cheesecake mousse with rose hip poached pear and roast quince puree. There is also a cheeseboard option if you prefer to end on a savoury note. Prices for desserts range between £5 and £14.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to St Leonard’s, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!