Published: 11:10, 05 March 2021
| Updated: 11:58, 05 March 2021
Long-empty units at a £75m leisure complex are now all let – with one set to be filled by a fine-dining restaurant offering six-course tasting menus.
The Gastronomist, which is taking up a spot underneath Travelodge at Elwick Place in Ashford, is a self-described 'dinner party-themed restaurant' and is due to open this spring.
Diners will enjoy a two-and-a-half hour experience, with the menu changing to best employ seasonal Kent ingredients.
The menus will include braised necks of lamb, grilled artichokes, Romesco sauce, pickled fennel and toasted almonds.
Each dish will also be joined with a selected wine pairing.
Alongside weekly ticketed events, wine tastings and other experiences, bosses say collaborations will take place with international chefs and 'meet the producer' evenings will be held.
Co-director Jokin Ortega – who has previously managed a tapas bar in Soho, London – said: “Our food offering will be designed around the best seasonal ingredients from Kent, and occasionally beyond, to create bold menus that tell a story and have a sense of provenance.
"Our bespoke two-metre-wide parilla (Argentine grill) will be the focal point in the kitchen and is bound to capture our guests’ attention during the evening’s service.”
The unit will also act as an art gallery, with resident exhibitions changing throughout the year.
It is filling a spot next to Afro-Caribbean restaurant Dansaki, which is yet to open.
Partnering with Experience Curators for the restaurant’s launch, The Gastronomist has commissioned international fine artist Zita Ayala, marking the UK debut of her work.
The 'Taupadak' Exhibition – which in Basque means heartbeat – is a new series that sees the French artist explore the reconnection between humans and nature.
Co-director Ainara Mateu added: "Each of The Gastronomist’s events will hopefully be fun, social and keep patrons clamouring for more.
"Fundamentally, we want people to enjoy their evening: to soak up the atmosphere from the open kitchen; to take in the art installations; and to rediscover the joy – perhaps even the drama – of congenial dining, all while discovering fantastic food and drink."
Ms Mateu says customers should expect to see ticketed nights on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, while exclusive private hire of the venue will also be possible.
As well as The Gastronomist, Unita 4 is also set to open at Elwick Place, taking up a spot underneath the six-screen Picturehouse cinema.
It is promising a family-friendly environment focusing on Italian standards such as pizza and pasta.
Being run by Italian chef Damiano Vecchio, food will be reasonably priced and visitors can also enjoy hands-on pasta-making classes.
Also coming soon is bespoke celebration cake maker Blé Couture Cakes, which was previously based in Faversham Road, Kennington.
And taking up a further unit is Wedu Wellness, with the company calling the venture its "first wellness concept studio".
The firm, which is currently online only, promises a varied schedule including yoga, mediation and other holistic practices.
The launch will be held in conjunction with the launch of its new range of smoothies and juices.
It will join 24-hour gym Snap Fitness, which opened in January last year.
Ashford Borough Council – which is behind the £75m complex – says every unit at the Elwick Road site is now let.
This week, Macknade, which was the first food and drink tenant to open at the site, expanded into the former Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre (AIMREC) spot.