ABode Canterbury sits smartly on the city’s main high street, just a short walk away from the cathedral and its grandeur. The interior of the hotel is stylishly laid out, with chic bedrooms and ABode’s champagne and cocktail bar offering guests and diners a sophisticated drinking destination. As with all the hotels in the ABode group, Michael Caines has looked after fine dining since the brand was conceived. Michael Caines at ABode Canterbury is a plush affair with polished wooden floors, white linen-covered tables and an expansive glass wine rack dividing the 70-seat restaurant in two.
Executive chef Mark Rossi heads up the team at ABode Canterbury, and was taken on by Michael Caines after working for the likes of Michel-Roux and Phil Howard. The menu offers up classic dishes with a modern twist, so we decided to start things off with the assiette of salmon and the scallops with parsnip puree. We sat back and sipped on glasses of Mornington Estate Pinot Noir 2004, with its ripe fruitiness, and waited for our starters to arrive. The waiter whirled over without our starters, but with an appetizer - a taster of haricot bean soup, scented with smoked bacon and white truffle oil. Surprised we were, but also curious, so we tucked into the taster-sized bowls of soup and licked the buttery, rich liquid clean from the porcelain. In no time, our starters arrived and we set about deconstructing the scallops and salmon assiette. The scallops were sweet and plump, with the parsnip adding a richer level of sweetness. The salmon assiette, which comprised a salmon mousse, smoked salmon and salmon jelly, was a mixed bag. Largely good, it was let down slightly by the salmon jelly, which was a little too esoteric for our tastes.
For our main dishes, we opted for the roasted partridge and the roast sirloin of Kentish beef. Both dishes came beautifully presented, and left us feeling a pang of guilt as we broke up the contents of each plate with our forks. The partridge was perfectly cooked, and sat on a bed of lentils and mashed vegetables. Dotted around the plate were walnut halves, spritzed with a rich balsamic jus. The flavours of the dish worked well together, although the portion served up, underestimated the richness of the meal and left me feeling unable to finish what was a great-tasting but heavy dish. The steak meanwhile, was devoured with complete approval – tender, juicy and savoury - it worked brilliantly with the Madeira jus and made for a beautifully balanced dish.
We relaxed back into our seats, and contemplated whether we could actually manage something from the dessert list. My other half thought not, so went for a glass of Pedro Ximinez for its palette-lingering, raisin-like sweetness, and I thought I could, so chose the cinnamon créme brûlée, complete with apple sorbet, apple purée and apple crisp. I had noticed, in the corner of my eye, that a good few other tables, were tucking into what looked like a complementary dessert. Plates were frequently coming out of the kitchen, with little shot glasses of creamy, sweet yoghurt, topped with raspberry confit and crowned with a doughnut, dusted with vanilla sugar. Sure enough, before any mention of my cinnamon brûlée came into view, the aforementioned dessert arrived before us both. A lovely idea, and full of good, sweet flavour, but unfortunately a little wasted on our already heavily lined stomachs. My dining partner managed to clean his plate, only to be left snubbing his Pedro Ximinez, having reached his sugar limit. I shamefully managed both desserts, but had to leave my wine glass rudely full, as space was nowhere to be found for it. Presentation is flawless at Michael Caines, with each dish looking prettier than the last. Just make sure you’ve eaten lightly before you dine here, or you’ll run the risk of feeling full, before you’ve made it to your main course.
Michael Caines: ABode Canterbury, High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RX.
Tel: 01227 826684
ABode Canterbury: ABode Canterbury is situated within the ancient city walls, only minutes away from the stunning Canterbury Cathedral. To book a romom, visit: http://www.abodehotels.co.uk/.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar