Hey all, how are we? How has the week been?
I was very chuffed recently to have been invited along to a newly refurbished Manor Farm Beefeater in Gillingham, Kent. I imagine this was because they had heard about my impeccable taste in décor, my wonderful taste in food, how much I love sampling wine or it may have been because if they could get through a night with my children they will be able to cater to anyone!
I instantly cast my mind back to growing up and how when my parents would take my sister and I out for a treat we would go to our local Beefeater. We would go for birthdays and other special occasions and I remember adoring it when the meal was all eaten up and my mum let us order ice cream sundaes for pudding.
Often the Beefeater was where we would go to meet family for a special meal on the lead up to Christmas and I remember always being excited about going. Fast forward to thirty three year old me and being totally honest I’ve not set foot in a Beefeater for years. Not because I’m adverse to them but I think because with so many other restaurant chains having grown in popularity and us tending to go out for lunches on our own to small trendy cafes where people would never dare take their children!
But it occurred to me that if the Beefeater was where my parents took my sister and I for family meals then we might be missing a trick. I am a huge fan of local business and small independent restaurants but most of these are on the High Street locally and not on the outskirts of town like the Beefeaters tend to be. They often have outdoor play areas and large car parks. I started to get quite excited about going along and seeing what the Beefeater experience was like as an adult.
So last Thursday Karl and I drove from Whitstable to Gillingham. We didn’t take the monsters as my parents had kindly offered to have them and being honest we wanted to see what it was like without having to deal with bogeys, wrestling matches or spilled drinks!
I was really impressed as soon as we walked in and I was hit with that nostalgia of being young as we walked into a porch area where you had to wait to be seated. I remember our local Beefeater in Whitstable having a similar set up and waiting in anticipation for my children’s menu!
We were seated quickly and drinks orders taken straight away which I really like. Karl was most impressed to see homemade milkshakes on the menu! I like to know there is wine on the way and that I can peruse a menu without having to catch a waiters eye to ask to order drinks. The table we were in was a booth and the restaurant was set up in many different sections with a small number of tables in each. It made it feel much more intimate and you didn’t feel at all like you were in larger restaurant. In fact all of the stair cases rising here and there made me think of Hogwarts and Karl and I both had a giggle trying to work out how you got to each section.
The menu was varied and offered the traditional steak house fare along with a local specialities section, lower calorie options and alternatives for all the side orders you could have. You could even ask for more chips or salad once you had finished if you were still hungry at no extra charge. Karl had chicken wings to start along with a bbq dip and I had pate with toast. Both dishes came quickly and were really yummy. Karl didn’t even offer me a chicken wing so they must have been far too good to share!
Being meat lovers we both ordered steaks for our main course with a portion of onion rings on the side. The steaks were cooked to perfection and the peppercorn sauce that accompanied mine was also scrummy (so much so that Karl stole it!) From our table and most of the restaurant in fact you could see the chefs cooking in the kitchen so you knew what was coming out was fresh.
We couldn’t resist pudding and Karl’s eyes lit up when he saw Mississippi Mud Pie on the menu and I was very happy to see my favourite banoffee pie. The desserts were just lovely and the portions really generous so much so that we probably could have shared however with Karl and I and our attitude to pudding that was never going to happen!
Karl then had a coffee which was Costa and I had another glass of wine while we waited for our bill which for two of us, three courses, two glasses of wine, a bottle of cider, a coffee and some extra sides was just over £70. I was really impressed, we had eaten enough to keep us going all week and it was really reasonable. I took the time to look around and see how family friendly this Beefeater was and it was exactly the same as when I had been small. Children were provided with colouring, special menus, things to do and were welcomed. The restaurant was spacious and decorated in such a way that you felt you were somewhere really special.
There were really individual touches such as retro lights that consisted of huge lightbulbs, all manner of different cow themed art and crockery and really comfy, attractive seating. I would absolutely not hesitate to visit with the boys and in fact we are planning on returning again soon. It’s so lovely to go somewhere where the children are just as welcomed and treated the same as grownups. The staff were friendly, pleasant and engaged in conversation and this was every server I saw. We left with very full tummies and smiley faces.
You can find Manor Farm Beefeater on the High Street, Rainham, Gillingham. You can find out more about them and other locations all over the country by clicking here.