As we’ve recently done for The Pearson’s Arms and The Windmill, we’ve decided to reflect a little on Thackeray’s in this blog post.
Those who have visited will agree that Thackeray’s is a striking building from the outside. There’s a truly otherworldly, fairytale-cottage feel to it with its slanted panels and slates. It’s a charming exterior that we’ve worked hard to maintain and refresh without distorting the uniqueness that makes it special.
And that’s been our approach to the Thackeray’s experience, too. For a decade we’ve refreshed and refurbished the dining and drinking experience, being careful not to crack the carefully laid Thackeray’s foundation. We’ve moved quickly – staying ahead of food trends and flavours of the month, but we’ve kept hold of the reputation that has made us so consistently successful.
That’s what makes us tick – consistent excellence. We retained our Michelin star three years ago and our reputation has sky-rocketed. However, based where we are in Royal Tonbridge Wells, we can’t get too pretentious. We know that our local, repeat customers are what keep us afloat.
We are, and want to continue to be, a dining option available to everyone from 17 year olds on their first date, to couples on their 50th wedding anniversary, to companies having corporate functions. We want to be accessible, not exclusive.
To that end we run a great variety of menus running at a range of price points and sophistication. That’s not a normal thing for a Michelin starred restaurant, and it’s a great strain on our kitchen and front-of-house staff, but it’s something we’ve set out to do from the beginning as a way to keep good relationships with our local customers. Our lunch menu has increased by just £4 in 9 years.
The chef today is Shane Hughes, who’s been there just over a year. He’s been a good fit, with a well-matched style to Richard. They both want the same things from Thackeray’s, have a similar management style, and have a talent for classical modern cuisine. Not especially French or European, but along those lines. Under Shane the menu is constantly changing, pulling more flavours out of dishes and upgrading ingredients where appropriate. It’s a fast paced rate of evolution but he is careful to continue the style, portion size and value that Thackeray’s customers have come to expect.
Gary Beach, the Director of Thackeray’s, has been there 9 years and has been a cornerstone of the consistency that marks us out. These days, he is slowly and carefully refining our wine list to make our offering in that department more unique. Rather than generic, he wants us to be specialist and explore new regions – for example, Chinese and Thai wines are making their way onto the menu. For Gary, every part of the Thackeray’s experience must be a little different to anything else you’ll find in Kent. We also now have a Coravin Wine System, which allows wines to be tasted by the glass without breaching the cork and letting them spoil.
We’ve also got a new project underway that will be finished this week. The newly refurbished terrace will offer a garden patio feel with a cocktail bar, BBQ and smokery. It will be open throughout the Summer with regular live bands (including the Cool Jazz Trio this Monday, the 25th of May – back by popular demand). It’ll add another dimension to our offering and we’re extremely excited about it.
As we’ve said, our repeat customers are hugely important to us so we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we’re doing, and the direction we’re taking.