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The BEST Local Restaurant in the UK - TALLOW Review

A picture of the front of Tallow restaurant with CC Mason offering a cheers from the window.

This week, Tallow, located in the small village of Southborough in Kent, was named the Best Local Restaurant in the UK for 2023 by Good Food Guide. I secured a coveted table at the award winning British restaurant on a Saturday at 1pm, and was welcomed into the charming, intimate, and immaculately designed restaurant by some of the most friendly staff I've ever encountered.

If you want to see more, check out our ONE MINUTE REVIEW!

The July menu of Tallow, taken inside the restaurant

This menu is the sort of thing that chefs dream of!

Owned by head chef Robert Taylor and his pastry chef wife Donna, Tallow's menu changes monthly, so the staff makes sure to give each guest a rundown of what to expect. This compact menu is the sort of thing that chefs dream of, each dish is impeccably crafted and perfectly balanced, and yet it still offers options of meat, fish, and vegetarian.

Complementary Tallow treats, a savory donut stuffed with brisket

After placing one's order, each guest is treated to a complementary starter- a savory donut dough stuffed with smokey brisket, presented with a quenelle of smokey and slightly sweet butter, and a garnish of wafer thin, gently pickled cucumber topped with julienned chilies. I would have happily sat and ate a dozen of these perfectly balanced morsels, and these bites did a perfect job to set the tone for the rest of the meals.

As always, I took my mom, who is wholly responsible for my love of and interest in food, with me so we could each order and try something different (and nibble off each others plates, of course.)

Chef Robert is a master of layering complex flavors so that every part of the pallet is delighted with every bite...

A beautiful white plate with deep fried cheese

For Starters, we ordered the Crispy Tunworth cheese with barbequed peas, onions, pickled pheasant egg, and a garlic and potato mousse (13) and the Barbacoa spiced short rib with sour cream and fresh lime (14). I will fully admit that I am a cheese-aholic, I will, and have, eaten meals based entirely on cheese, so the Tunworth cheese, which was breaded and deep fried was something that really called to me. Chef Robert is a master of layering complex flavors so that every part of the pallet is delighted with every bite. The breading was slightly salted, and the cheese was rich with just the right amount of funk. The garlic and potato mousse was lovely and light and the peas added the perfect amount of sweetness and freshness. The secret magic of the dish was the pickled pheasant egg, which was hidden under the layers of creamy goodness. The gentle acidity of the egg cut through all of the richness and really balanced the whole dish.

Barbacoa beef with tomatillo salsa on a corn tortilla

The 12 hour brazed Barbacoa short rib, which sits on a robust handmade mini corn tortilla, makes your mouth water the moment it hits the table. Short rib can be very rich, and chef did another excellent job balancing it out with their choice of toppings. The finely diced tomatillo salsa with lime added the bright, acidic notes, while the sour cream added just a hint of sweetness.

Duck breast with soused cherries

First up for mains was the honey glazed duck breast with soused cherries and charred spring onions, which came with confit duck leg and duck neck spring roll (34). I only started eating duck a few years ago, when I first came to the UK, and I learned very quickly that, though I loved it, it's an incredibly tricky cut of meat to cook correctly. There have been countless times when I've ordered duck at other restaurants where it came out to the table overcooked or completely inedible, so when I tell you that this was the best prepared duck breast I've ever had, you can trust that I've had many experiences of the contrary. At restaurants like Tallow, when I order any cut of meat, I always order it in whichever way the chef recommends, which in this case was pink, and that was one hundred percent the correct decision. The duck was tender and perfectly spiced, and really offered the umami flavor you'd hope for with duck. It sat on a thick cherry sauce with delicately cooked cherries, which added the ideal balance of sweet and tart. The duck neck spring roll was fried to perfection and offered a satisfying crunch as a foil to the tender breast, while the confit duck leg with puffed rice was crispy and delectable. If you love duck, or if you've always wanted to try duck, THIS is the best way I can recommend.

Each dish, vegetarian included, is crafted with the same amount of love and detail.

Lions Mane Mushroom Pasta

The vegetarian main option was the pan fried Lions Mane mushroom with hand made penne pasta, topped with Girolle mushrooms and garlic, chives, and onion jus. It's rare that one can find a vegetarian main that holds up to the meat offerings on a menu, as for many restaurants the vegetarian offering is just a throwaway, but unsurprisingly that is not the case here. Each dish, vegetarian included, is crafted with the same amount of love and detail. The sizable Lions Mane was fried to a perfect golden brown and offered a lovely, soft textural contrast to the noodles which had the ideal amount of chew. If you're a mushroom lover or a vegetarian, this dish has a strong recommendation from us.

The beautifully decorated chef's table room inside tallow

While mom sipped on a cappuccino I went upstairs to meet Chef Robert and congratulated him on the recent awards, which are all very much well deserved. He was kind enough to show me the room opposite the kitchen, which houses the intimate chef's table. It's here where you and 7 of your friends can sit and dine in a one-on-one style meal while he cooks right there in front of you, on a custom built table and stove, and tells you about all the thought and planning that goes into every dish! He also convinced me to try their chocolate dessert for July, which is a Manjari chocolate and coffee mousse, in a thin blanket of chocolate, sitting on a foundation of chocolate wafer and cake, topped with whipped mascarpone. The real secret, however, is revealed when the cake is cut open to reveal the espresso jelly inside. This decedent, sumptuous dessert was an exquisite end to the meal.

a chocolate cake on a striped plate

Tallow is easily one of the best restaurants I've every had the pleasure of dinning in, full stop, and I say that having had the extreme privilege of travelling and eating all over the world. If you're a foodie, or if you're looking for an incredible dinning experience, I simply cannot recommend this enough!

a cappuccino with a glass full of sugar cubes


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