Published: 09:56, 20 December 2019
| Updated: 18:06, 07 January 2020
Kent has been named the UK's dining capital - with FIVE restaurants featuring on a list of the best in the country.
The list has been compiled by online restaurant guide Harden's, based on reviews by more than 7,500 diners.
London restaurants took 49 of the top 100 places, but Harden's said Kent had put in an 'unusually strong performance' and was the UK's top county for fine dining.
The highest-ranked restaurant, at number 49, was the Fordwich Arms in Fordwich, near Canterbury.
It tops a great year for the venue, which was named the UK's best pub in June.
Dan and Natasha Smith, who moved from London to Kent with lofty ambitions for the quaint, riverside pub, said at the time they were delighted with the accolade.
Dan said: “It’s still lovely to go to The Ritz and these other fancy restaurants where you get bleached white tablecloths and a guy playing the piano in the corner, that’s amazing, but people also want to go out and feel more relaxed, but it doesn’t mean the food has to change.
“Our food is fine dining level, but in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Next on the list, at 58, was Stark in Broadstairs, which has also had a great year.
The tiny 10-seater restaurant, with a name inspired by Game of Thrones, was awarded a Michelin star in October . It rewards those with a taste for adventures, with diners paying £60 for six mystery courses from a set menu.
The third Kent venue to be recognised was The Sportsman in Seasalter. The Sportsman, which was named gastropub of the year in June, came in 78th.
Indian Essence in Petts Wood owned by twice Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, came in 89th.
The Small Holding in Kilndown, near Cranbrook, was named the UK's 99th best restaurant. Chef Will Devlin harvests fresh ingredients from the farm just yards from the restaurant.
Other Kent restaurants which did not make the top 100 but were recognised for excellence include The West House in Biddenden, Whits of Walmer, Angela's and Buoy & Oyster, both in Margate, Xian in Orpington, The Salutation in Sandwich and Wheelers Oyster Bar in Whitstable.