Industrial vibe – check. Funky and contemporary lighting – check. Open kitchen and amazing wood fired oven – check. Are we in trendy Shoreditch? Nope. Good old Gillingham, Dorset.
What was the former rugby club locker room that then transformed into The Shed, in the Square, Gillingham, has now metamorphosized again into South Street Kitchen. It’s funky, fresh and friendly – oh yeah, and the food is OUTSTANDING!
A trendy but not pretentious bar area greets you, and the same could be said for the bar staff! A mixologist in training was happy to chat to us about cocktails he’s learning but was as knowledgeable about the boutique beers and wines available. This is a nice area to meet for a drink and a download of the week on the high stools – but due to licensing some nibbles must be consumed. This is no hard task given that the nibbles available can consist of the most amazing freshly baked bread, flavoured with a Mediterranean hint this was a great way to kick things off and if you’re not in for the duration would be an ideal accompaniment to a cocktail or beer.
The menus are on clip board and are not vastly extensive, but, the choices that you are presented with are all very tempting – in fact my dining companion and I literally couldn’t choose. In the end we opted for the scallops that came with whisky overtones, you could cut them like butter with the side of your fork – which is the benchmark set by a renowned chef who catered a friend’s wedding some years back – well I can safely say that any foodie would love the scallops that I was lucky enough to enjoy, their consistency and taste were brilliant, the subtle blend of flavours worked well.
We also shared the Hoi Sin Duck sushi which didn’t disappoint. Served with a crispy fried spring onion and Wasabi combo, this really was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before – but in a good way! So far so good for Ash, the former manager of the Stapleton Arms, and his team.
Moving onto the main event, after much deliberation, we chose the smoked chicken and avocado Burrito which came with the most amazing jacket potato skins that had been seasoned to perfection, again, not something I have had before in their own right, but well worth trying. With this we had the brisket served with sweet potato mash and spring greens, this was tender like a tenderness I’ve never known 😉 in fact it basically fell apart and just melted in your mouth with a mass of flavour, I eat a lot of meat and like to think I know good meat – and this is good meat!
With portions served on smoked and charred wood or in wooden bowls, with their own coal / smoke/ rotisserie and seafood choices, this little but surprisingly spacious restaurant is set to do good things. Its strikes the balance between cool and trendy but not stuck up, great food presented immaculately but that actually fills you up (to the point where neither of us could fit in a desert which is highly irregular!) and with an atmosphere – unlike a lot of open kitchen / funky bistro places that can seem too industrial and border on the clinical – South Street Kitchen really does have an actual atmosphere with the right music played at the right volume and staff that interact well with each other and with patrons. Ticks all the boxes for me, and it’s in Dorset! Usually you’d be heading off to the city for this kind of venue. You will be pleasantly surprised by the very reasonable prices too and with Sunday lunch and weekend brunch available, this could fast become a family favourite.