Kevin Arundel spent time in L'Ecrivain with Derry Clarke, before moving acroos the road to No.10 , at Longfields. He is now to be found in the uber-trendy Schoolhouse hotel, where he owns the restaurant. As expected, the food's still brilliant and he's just won Gastro-Pub of the year 2007.
Funny how things work. One day last week I dropped in to see Derry Clarke about his book, then popped across to see Stephen McAllister who now has No.10 across the road in Longfields hotel. After that I was having lunch in Kevin Arundel's restaurant, the man who joins these disparate dots, having worked in or owned the previous restaurants.
"Tis a consummation devoutly to be received" that when a chef spends some years working with someone of the calibre of Derry Clarke, you can assume a few things. He knows the value of quality and simplicity. He's invariably a good chef, and that the pricing will err on the side of sanity. I hadn't eaten in Kevin's restaurant since his days up in No. 10 and was curious to see what effect the move to such a larger premises had had.
The Schoolhouse, built in 1892 and for nearly 100 years a primary school, is now a boutique hotel containing a large and very popular bar and the Canteen Restaurant. The restaurant has been re decorated and boasts 40 high beamed ceilings and not a chrome or velvet fixture in place. I was having lunch with Deirdre and we arrived about 1.15 pm, well into the lunch trade and the place was very nearly full of a business lunch crowd.
Duly ordered, we chatted on this and that, with Deirdre remarking on the suitability of the venue for a wine tasting, wedding or function. It's big enough for a serious party, without being anonymous or too cavernous. We had ordered a large bottle of sparkling water and between chatting and listening to the overloud guy two tables up, the food arrived.
It's a while since I last ate pheasant, but this was beautifully presented, with the sweetness of the sauce complimenting the gamey meat perfectly. Deirdre's lamb consisted of three perfectly pink cutlets and three pan-fried kidneys. She not being an offal fan, I got to eat these morsels and Dee demolished the rest.
There was a chocolate brownie for herself for dessert while I couldn't resist the croissant based bread and butter pudding. Both were excellent and we were glad we made room.
Canteen serves fresh and imaginative food at a very fair price. The bill for lunch was 44.00, and in the evening the menu becomes more adventurous, but starters are still clustered around 8-9 and main courses are mostly around 18.00. If you haven't eaten with Mr. Arundel before, now would be a good time to start.