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We tried Seasons Garden in Larkfield on site of former Happy Times which closed after wing nut found in food


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After a week on holiday in the wilds of Cumbria, surviving on only bacon, eggs, Cumberland sausages, Yorkshire sausages, toad in the hole, pork loin, meat pies, chips, sticky toffee pudding, and northern ales, I felt in need of a hearty filling meal.

Fortunately the £18 minimum order option for delivery to Ryarsh from Seasons Garden in Larkfield, meant that was guaranteed.

About to enjoy a takeaway from Seasons Garden in Larkfield
About to enjoy a takeaway from Seasons Garden in Larkfield

There were probably healthier options of course, but what better cure for the post holiday reality crash, than the high-octane serotonin-injecting flavours of a Chinese takeaway?

None, that's what.

There were nearer options too, but for some reason none of them quite had the same tantalising appeal as Seasons Garden... was it something to do with a lingering sense of risk?

After a few near-death experiences driving on the mountain passes of the Lake District, and another while playing pool against a farmer in the Dales, I'd got used to a regular shot of adrenaline.

And as Seasons Garden stands on the site of the former Happy Times Chinese takeaway – which closed in 2019 after a string of hygiene and safety breaches, including one where a diner found a wing nut in their crispy seaweed – maybe it could still offer something of a sense of adventure.

Cumbrian ale goes nicely with a Kentish Chinese
Cumbrian ale goes nicely with a Kentish Chinese

Night was falling on this October evening, just a week and a half from Halloween, as I bravely ventured onto the website and scoured the menu with a steely eye.

At first glance it offered up nothing too alarming.

Alongside the standard Chinese dishes there were a number of potentially interesting options, such as the Bachelor's Special range, which the menu boasts are served "all in one large container", while a couple of the starters looked puzzling.

Why for example was the "fried Crispy Seaweed with grated scallops" and the "fried crispy seaweed WITHOUT grated scallops" both priced at exactly £5.10? Well you might say some mysteries are best left unsolved, just as you might say some scallops are best left ungrated.

But let's not ham this up too much – I'd had enough pork products up north after all.

The Peking-style spare ribs
The Peking-style spare ribs

In the end, I decided to leave the Bachelor's Specials to the likes of my pool-playing nemesis, and in a half-hearted stab at being vaguely healthy I went for the roast duck with mushrooms and mixed vegetables chow mein.

That was until the website informed me I would have to order more to make up the £18 minimum, and I was forced into ordering an appetiser – the Peking style spare ribs.

Ok, perhaps not 'forced' exactly, and I may have a slight addiction to pork products, but I wouldn't have chosen them without that minimum spend limit... probably.

There was no need for a drink as I decided my last bottle of Cumbrian ale was probably a better option than the canned fizzy drinks listed on the menu.

Once I'd placed my order the website informed me the food would arrive in 75 minutes, but it was only just over half an hour later when the phone rang.

Was there a problem?

"We can't find the house..." said a slightly stressed voice, but no drama – they were just a few doors down the road.

A few minutes later I was tucking in voraciously to my meal, the tantalising aromas having temporarily dispelled any thought of hidden wing nuts.

I tried the spare ribs first and they were as sweet, saucy and meaty as any I've enjoyed before.

Even better, there were no nuts or bolts or any other construction materials in there - so I moved onto the main dishes and found they were similarly free of work tools.

Roast duck with mushrooms
Roast duck with mushrooms

And even better again, they tasted great too.

The duck was delicious and not too fatty or salty, as some takeaway duck is prone to be, while the vegetable chow mein had enough vegetables in to count as at least one – maybe even two – of my five a day.

What's more, by the time I had finished a plate-full and was contentedly full up, there was still enough left over for breakfast and lunch the next day. so perhaps that £18 wasn't such bad value after all.

As for any concerns over hygiene, all I can say is I woke up in good health the following morning, finished off the food as anticipated, and would have no qualms about ordering from the restaurant again.

Just like my holiday, the Happy Times might be gone, but maybe there a still good times ahead in Seasons Garden.

And there was plenty left over for breakfast
And there was plenty left over for breakfast

Ratings out of 5

Food: Does exactly what you want from a Chinese takeaway and did not contain wing nuts ****

Drink: The menu's offer of canned soft drinks was fine, but probably not as good as the beer from Dentdale. ***

Staff: The delivery staff had a bit of difficulty finding the house but they were friendly, cheerful and early *****

Price: The £18 minimum was a bit steep but I had enough food for three meals *****

For more reviews on places to eat in Kent, click here

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