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June update: The Mulberry Tree – The food factor

26 June 2009
June update: The Mulberry Tree – The food factor

The Kent restaurant serves a modern European menu focused on seasonal ingredients sourced from local organic suppliers. The restaurant is a member of the Produced in Kent association, which champions and develops the Kentish identity of local products.

Head chef Alan Irwin, who joined from the former Michelin-starred Chapter One in Bromley, speaks to his many local suppliers on a daily basis to ensure he gets the best-quality ingredients.

The daily-changing menu features six starters, mains and desserts as well as a local Kentish cheese menu with a further six choices. The only constant is Irwin's signature dish of slow-roast belly of Kentish pork, which is one of the most popular dishes, with 50-60 ordered each week.

The average spend for a three-course meal including drinks and service is about £40, with starters ranging from £5 to £9 and main courses from £14 to £19. A set menu is priced at £15.95 for three courses. "My GP is flexible but averages around 70%," Irwin says.

His cooking has already won national recognition, with the Mulberry Tree being awarded two AA rosettes and winning the Produced in Kent Restaurant of the Year award.

Roy Ackerman believes "it's important that the food at the Mulberry Tree remains faithful to its focus on locally sourced ingredients, particularly now that the restaurant has its own herb garden, the pigs and orchard under construction.

"The menu is the right length but could be redesigned slightly, and the advice I would offer is the old preference for fish dishes traditionally being shown before other main courses. It might be sensible to reduce the Sunday menu to cope with the growing numbers of customers who invariably will want to eat at the same time.

"Originally I thought it was far too modern for the location, but in fact Alan and [proprietor] Karen [Williams] have judged their clientele perfectly. While I felt that some of the menu items were too descriptive, Karen assured me that her customers like to know every detail. Having the menu written in such a way also reduces the explanation time needed when taking an order."

Hermitage Lane, Boughton Monchelsea, Kent ME17 4DA
01622 749082
www.themulberrytreekent.co.uk

JUNE UPDATE
The Mulberry Tree was last month named regional winner for the South-east by the Good Food Guide.

The award came hot on the heels of the restaurant being named Produced in Kent Restaurant of the Year, and proprietor Karen Williams said she was delighted with the news.

The Mulberry Tree was one of 10 regional winners, which competed for the overall Restaurant of the Year title. The final was held at the British Museum in London and saw Ronnies in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, winning the overall title.

Elizabeth Carter, editor of the Good Food Guide, said: "All of the restaurants that made it on to this year's shortlist should be really proud of the show of support they've received from their customers."

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