Where would you find a ‘Dirty Cow’, Dorset snail pie, Chocolate Fondant to die for and an atmosphere to make the slickest Soho bar green with envy? Gillingham, that’s where – The Shed in Gillingham to be precise. Not the answer you were expecting I know, but nothing about The Shed is what you’d expect, in fact it will exceed your expectations.
The owner, Steve Woodward, is a down to earth local with a head for business and a wealth of knowledge. They have a farm in Cucklington where a lot of the produce for The Shed comes from and they also own the Old Inn at Holton, but the best thing they have is that unique instinct for what makes an atmosphere.
The staff are friendly and attentive without looming over you every two minutes, they also know their stuff. The young and talented chefs have been trained to very high standards and are super creative – the Chicken, wild garlic and Dorset snail pie is a testament to that, as are the Devilled kidneys served in a Yorkshire Pudding. The food does not come across as pretentious though, it is unusual, fresh and different but not intimidating, a hard balance to strike.
If you’re not feeling too experimental then you’ll find pizzas cooked in the new wood oven, steaks and burgers cooked on the fire in the open kitchen and lots of amazing seafood from beer battered fish and chips to the outstanding monkfish curry (this was a new thing for me as I’m not normally a fish fan but it has converted me). Whilst we’re on the subject of fish, I have to say the scallops served with a celeriac puree and wild garlic crumb were one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten.
If you’re thinking ‘’sounds great but no good for the kids’’ then think again, they offer half portions of anything on the menu for children and have just opened their safe, enclosed rear garden which is ideal for a summer’s evening to enjoy with the family. They will soon be opening a canteen facility open from 8.30am – 3pm when you can pop in for an informal coffee, pastry, sandwich or baguette all of which will be available to take away. Perfect for the Mums to meet after the school run to pick up a copy of Country Child!
If Mum and Dad also fancy an evening catch up then why not pop in for a cocktail or a local Cider served in a proper tankard? The ambience is great with unusual touches such as fresh herbs grown for the cocktails, wines from independent merchants that you won’t find anywhere else with their own label coming soon, so you can enjoy a specific wine with a specific steak that has been blended just for that cut.
With big plans coming soon for a private loft, themed wine nights with sommeliers, planting fruit and veg to order at the farm based on the chef’s menu ideas and live music, you really must keep your eye on what’s going on in The Shed, Gillingham.