Eat & Drink

Published on November 7th, 2022 | by Brussels In View


Rebranded resto supports local economy and reduces ‘food miles’

Christmas is coming so what better excuse to hop over to the UK for some festive fun.

Kent is still, of course, the easiest and most popular point of entry to Britain for most folk from mainland Europe, including Belgium, and Canterbury, its county town, makes for some cracking Christmas shopping.

The city, long well known for Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales and its fabulous Cathedral, is now home to another memorable “C” – the Cook’s Tale.

It is the name of the city’s “newest” eatery and, after a day’s foot slogging around Canterbury’s fine shops and many sights, is well worth a visit.

Indeed, it is a great spot to sate any hunger after traipsing around this bustling Kentish city or the Garden of England.

Its owner-chef Dev Biswal has rebranded his multi award-winning Ambrette Restaurant in the city to The Cook’s Tale, its new name.

The fine dining Anglo-Indian resto offers “modern Mumbai dining” and is a kind of homage to Geoffrey Chaucer’s C14th ‘Canterbury Tales’ anthology.

Dev, who hails from Calcutta, says, “The name Cook’s Tale is taken from the character of the apprentice Perkyn Revelour, who is rather fond of wine, women and song.“There’s a certain irony to the choice,given that Perkn was also known for selling rotten meat infested with flies and maggots – we won’t follow the model too faithfully!”

Dev’s dishes, which have always showcased much of the locality’s finest, sustainable local produce, are now exclusively created using ingredients sourced from within 30 minutes of Canterbury (previously they were sourced from all over the UK).

Dev, ably supported by his Bangladesh-born head chef, says, “It is good to be able to support local products and local producers, especially at the current time.”

The policy partly explains the refreshed menu plus a special 12-course Chaucerian Feast tasting menu.This features Ypocras,’fortified Kentish wine served with cake; Wastel breed with flavoured beef drippings; Pyk in Brasey; Pigeon with wortes and marybones; Salat of Sawge with Chybollus, Pesen Pottage; Mushroom bake with fecces; Tamworth pork mortreux, Venysoun with roasted chasteynes and Walsh-notes; and poached peres; and Chese.

Line caught sea bass and cuttlefish from small boats are supplied by the Goods Shed in Canterbury, meats, such as the 28-day aged Jacob’s Ladder beef, come from The Butcher of  Brogdale while Laughton Farm in Faversham supplies free-range chicken. Venison, pigeon and other seasonal birds are sourced from Stour Valley Game.

Tamworth rare breed pork comes from Lydden Farm in Dover. The Kent cherries are from Mount Ephraim in Hernhill near Faversham. Other fruits and other fruit and vegetables the 8-acre Walmestone Farm near Canterbury.

Explaining the change of direction Dev, who closed his original restaurant in Margate and another in Rye, said that he had reassessed his ambitions during the pandemic and wanted an enhanced work/life balance, to free up time to create more dishes and develop other business interests.

He will also revive his popular cookery master classes for small groups. Before the lockdown, Dev had also planned to launch a gastro tours arm, taking groups to overseas and domestic destinations to learn how to prepare local dishes and about the history and culture behind them.

Dev has received national awards and recognition in all the major food guides for his unique and innovative food menus.

The interior is much as it was but highly talented and popular local pianist Luke Smith now plays live in the restaurant, adding to its terrific ambience. The staff are professional, attentive and helpful.

Dev’s delivery kitchen based in Ashford has been separately rebranded as Bombay Cooks and, for the first time in his career, he will offer ‘curry’ on his menu. He had always eschewed the catch-all generic term for the rich and diverse culinary styles from across the Indian subcontinent. The word “curry” does not exist in any of the numerous languages or dialects found in India and is synonymous for with spicy fast foods, which many chefs never eat at home.

To celebrate the launch of the new concept and brand, The Cook’s Tale has come up with a 12 course menu inspired by medieval recipes from the world renowned Canterbury Tales. Each dish is inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s book and is cooked using ingredients produce around the Canterbury area. Its chefs, though, have naturally given it all a contemporary and exotic twist.

Dev says: “It’s an English term, possibly from a French or Portuguese root but I’ve relented because ‘cury’ appeared in print in cookbooks during Chaucer’s life time.”

His restaurant is recommended by all the country’s top restaurant guides, including Michelin, AA, Good Food and Harden’s.

Dev was the resident chef on Channel 4 TV’s Superscrimpers, showing how to prepare gourmet meals on a budget. Other awards have included. ‘Best Restaurant’ at the coveted Taste of Kent Awards; ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ by Morrisons magazine and ‘Best Restaurant in the South East’ by the Cobra Good Curry Guide.

He was named Asian Chef of the Year at the Asian Restaurant Awards in 2019.

With a CV like that it would seem almost criminal to visit Canterbury and not pay a visit to Cook’s Tale.

Cook’s Tale
14-15 Beer Cart Lane, Canterbury, Kent
T: +44(0) 1227 200 777


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