Since opening in 2018, the food at independent boutique hotel The Rose, in the Kentish coastal town of Deal, has been, at times, exemplary.
But now, in an enviable move, owners Christopher Hicks and Alex Bagner have gone one stage further and bagged Nuno Mendes as executive chef to create their new summer menu.
Mendes was head chef at Bethnal Green’s pioneering Viajante and subsequently the celeb hotspot Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, where he’d serve diners sitting at the counter directly from the open kitchen. His most recent venture was experimental 16-seater Maos in Shoreditch, which he left in February.
“Yes, Nuno is a friend of ours and over the last few years he’s been to Deal to see us, and stayed at The Rose a few times,” says Alex. “He was with us last New Year’s Eve when we first started talking about getting him involved.”
During the long lockdown they all talked more. “After a few Zooms with our kitchen team, we got him down, as soon as we were able, to cook and collaborate with our head chef Luke and sous chef David on a new summer menu. It’s a combination of our Rose ethos to celebrate local ingredients but with Nuno’s creative and innovative approach to food and vast culinary heritage.”
And on our two visits in the last week we can pretty much confirm that the partnership is an instant success.
Take the above shallow bowl of heritage tomatoes, almost dessert-like with its charred peaches, soft raspberries and marcona almonds; or a plate of butter-soft seared cuttlefish with local samphire and a textural red pepper dressing; or, in fact, a just-opaque piece of lemon sole with grilled cucumber and dill butter sauce. All three were flawless.
Another straight-up classic is the savoury crab doughnut, a Mendes signature creation, which sells out daily, although we did manage to scoff a couple on our second visit (they were all gone on our first).
What else? Plant-based diners should try the extraordinarily light barley and oat risotto with courgettes, spinach and herbs, while their carnivorous counterparts might prefer rosy slices of feather steak given a real thwack of flavour by smoked bearnaise.
Best of all though was the beef tartare, already one of the finest in memory: available as a starter, or main with chips, its glistening cubes of ruby-red meat are piled on a vivid green tarragon sauce and topped with crisped summer cabbage leaves.Somehow the new summer menu works even better outside, a quietly beautiful Tuscan-style courtyard with slate walls, farmhouse brick and the biggest olive trees this side of the Channel. A first floor sunset terrace offers views over the churchyard (note: food is only served in the garden). Social distancing heaven? Pretty much.
And Mendes fans will be thrilled that the man himself is throwing the odd supper club, too. “Nuno is popping in and out throughout the summer to cook with our Rose team,” says Alex. “We also have a brand new wine list (which he has consulted on), a new seasonal cocktail menu – you must try Nuno’s Dirty Tomato Martini – and we’re currently working on a new breakfast menu for September.”
***STOP PRESS*** To read alot more about Deal, and its dining scene, check out our brand new updated in-depth 2020 travel guide here.
The Rose Hotel is open daily throughout summer at 91 High Street, Deal, Kent. They are also participating in #EatOutToHelpOut (Mon-Wed). Find out more and book a room here