A new restaurant opened its door at the end of last year serving up traditional Romanian cuisine to the people of North Kent.
But what is traditional Romanian food? I was keen to find out so popped into Ambient in Gravesend with my friend and ordered everything I could.
When you first walk in you are met with the cold breeze of a powerful air-conditioning unit – a saviour if you are eating in a heatwave, which I was – and some subtle background music.
The restaurant itself has been decorated to resemble eateries in Bucharest, Romania where owners Vasile and Corina Conduraru are originally from.
Mr Conduraru explained that in Bucharest, restaurants have a Victorian style about them and are fitted with wooden tables and chairs. He decided to bring this to Ambient but in a modern twist which can be seen from the hand-painted walls and chosen grey and velvet decor.
Now onto the whole point of this review, the food.
The restaurant in Windmill Street serves around 90% Romanian food but also has a page of non-eastern European cuisine including pastas, seafood and fish.
As it was a week night and I was driving I opted for a coke but there is a wide range of soft and alcoholic drinks including cocktails which I have heard from a trust-worthy source are huge – maybe next time.
To start we ordered a cold traditional countryside platter to share. It came out on a wooden board with plenty of picky bits including pork scratchings, meatballs, ham, cheese, aubergine salad, olives, vegetables and bread.
Although, it was nice and enough food for a light starter for two people, it wasn't anything very exciting or out of this world so I wouldn't order again.
We then ordered mains and some side dishes. I tried the stuffed cabbage rolls with mince meat and rice. It was served with polenta – boiled cornmeal – sour cream and a chilli pepper.
I had never had polenta before and I wasn't the biggest fan of the texture and probably would have preferred some chips but the cabbage rolls were amazing.
They were covered in a ragu-style sauce and the meat was wrapped in the cabbage thinly. It wasn't crunchy as I had imagined but soft and you got quite a few. Definitely worth trying.
I then went for a side of Romanian potatoes which were covered in pieces of bacon and tomato sauce and again, this was very nice.
My friend ordered chicken skewers and chips and said it was good and the presentation was fun. She also had two traditional meat rolls which I wasn't the biggest fan of but she seemed to like.
We had gone a little over-board so there was plenty to take home which our waiter immediately asked if we wanted to do without us asking.
Although we were feeling very full from all the food we couldn't leave without trying the Romanian cheese doughnuts something we were both unsure of.
We had one to share which was plenty after all the other dishes. I was expecting it to be filled with melted cheese like a jam doughnut or a stuffed crust on a pizza but it wasn't.
The inside was just like any other doughnut, light and fluffy, and after some research I found out the dough is made using a soft cheese and you can't even taste it.
They were smothered in sour cream and blueberry jam, a strange combination which surprisingly worked and combined to make a creamy, fruity sauce.
I was taken back by how good these were and would come back just for them. They are a staple Romanian dish and well worth giving a go even if you are a bit apprehensive.
So what is my verdict on Romanian food? Although not all of it is for my taste buds, plenty of it is and there are things I never would have had otherwise.
The range of food is extensive and has something for everyone even if you don't want to try the Eastern-European cuisine. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit different.
Out of five:
Food: Turns out I am a big fan of Romanian food even if some of it is not to my liking. ****
Drink: I only had a coke but there is a wide range of different soft and alcoholic options. ****
Decor: The inside of the restaurant is different but comfy and they have air-con which was a saviour in the heatwave. *****
Staff: Everyone was very welcoming and was happy to answer our questions on the food and menu. *****
Price: £60 for a three-course meal for two isn't bad in my eyes and everything was reasonably priced. ****