Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Wild Goose

There are a lot of pubs in Canterbury.  It is whispered that you can visit a different watering hole every day of the year and still have more to visit.

Despite this, there actually aren't that many bars.  There are a few good ones; Bramleys, The Shakespeare Wine Bar, Abode Champagne Lounge and the newly opened Pound that I have yet to visit, but very few decent cocktail bars.

Wild Goose is a much needed addition.
Located inside one of my most favourite places in the world, The Goods Shed farmers market (amazing food, brilliant drink and the most wondrous butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers, general store, restaurant, cheesemakers, charcuterie, wine shop, bottle shop and much, much more), Wild Goose is a brilliant addition to an already impressive local lineup.  The Goods Shed itself is an old railway goods shed, next to Canterbury West Station and is the place that is, in my mind, solely responsible for making Canterbury the foodie paradise that it is today.
I have bought my parents, grandparents, friends and random strangers I met on the train back from London here for a bite to eat and a drink.  Steve has stopped off to pick me up a pork and pear sandwich (my favourite sandwich in Canterbury) from Jonny the sandwich man and dropped it off to me in the theatre in Whitstable before now for my dinner during a get in.  For years, we always got our Christmas turkey box from the Butchers, until it occurred to us that there were only two of us eating, and a whole turkey plus all the trimmings may have been a little excessive.
I get excited from the moment I pull into the gravel crunching driveway and scout for a parking space.  Sometimes you get lucky and there are masses to choose from; other times less so and you need to circle around the block and come back.  Keep circling, it is worth it.  You climb up the ramp through the sage green great shuttered doors into the hall and are bowled over by a complete onslaught on the senses.
The first thing that hits you is the smell; the bouquet of a thousand good things mingling in the air, creating an ambrosial perfume that is unique to the Goods Shed.  Next there is the colour; natural woods, vibrant vegetable greens, reds and oranges, dried hops hanging from the ceiling and whitewashed paint.  Finally the people, people of all ages and backgrounds browsing the goods, eating food that was plucked from the market stalls minutes before by the restaurant chefs, laughing at the high tables over locally brewed artisan ales from Murray's or agonising over which cured hams to choose from Patriana Charcuterie (always choose the ham that is cured and cooked in the Goods Shed - its one of the many reasons the place smells so good!).  In the spring and the summer the doors are flung open to the side and people sit at tiny tables out on the terrace hobnobbing with the world. 
One cold evening, Stella, Sinead and I met up for cocktails and prosecco at Wild Goose.  By this time the market had closed for the day, and all that was left were tables of people munching their way through the fresh food offering.

Wild Goose is owned by Lucy Proud, a local Kent girl who trained and worked as a chef in London before setting up home in the Goods Shed.  The menu is tapas inspired, perfect for sharing, and they also serve (I'm told) a mean lazy weekend breakfast.
We were there for cocktails and a catch up.  We slung our bags on the convenient hooks under the counter, debated snuggling into one of the fleecy blankets available and grabbed three high stools at the counter.
All the cocktails are Lucy's own creation, including the Hay Fever, a delectable mix of Jim Bean, elderflower, mint and honey and a concoction she conjured up especially for the Canterbury Players when we were performing the play of the same name after Sinead promised to drink her own body weight in gin to say thank you (Shay is already a massive fan - she blogged about it aaaages ago.  I'm just a bit slow on the uptake).  I chose a Gosling (gin, dry vermouth, elderflower syrup and lime) whilst the other two got started on a light, sparking prosecco.  All the cocktails are based on floral, quintessentially English ingredients; indeed, Lucy designed the cocktail menu around the idea of an English garden with the use of herb infused spirits and flower syrups.  It works wonderfully and reads like a dream.
The cocktail was lovely, fresh, well balanced and lightly tart (although I would have liked a little extra lime juice as I like my cocktails to have a real sour kick behind them but that is just personal preference).

The waiting staff were, for the most part, attentive.  There was the occasional slip up with a forgotten order, but it was quite busy and all the cocktails and food orders are made from scratch, so you must expect a bit of a wait.  In all honesty, the setting is divine, so why would you want to rush?
The liquor cabinet is well stocked.  I would quite like a lot of those gins in my own stash! The eagle eyed amongst you will recognise the Anno Gin distillers that I featured in my Canterbury Food Festival post nestled on the shelf.  I'm drooling just thinking about that gin, it is so nice!  That is a marmalade gin right next to it, and Ciroc and a Chase.  I approve, heartily.
There are lovely details about this bar that make it really stand out for me.  Firstly, the location (with the exposed brick work, rafters and the great, ornate Victorian windows that rattle with the passing trains) is just my idea of heaven.
Lucy has added some art deco touches to Wild Goose, particularly with her glass work and counter lamps which add a touch of elegance to the place.  It has an utterly relaxed vibe about it, you would be equally as comfortable in a pair of jeans, hunters and wax jacket for a post hack pick me up, or a little black dress for pre-dinner and theatre cocktails. 
Wild Goose is open until 9pm from Tues-Sat and until 4pm on Sundays (closed on Mondays), so it is a great place to come for a quietly one (or a raucous one if you are anything like me on a couple of drinks) and get your evening off to the best possible start.  It's a blissful assault on the taste buds and senses.  Why not visit it this weekend and try it out for yourself?
If you like (or hate!) what you have read, please do let me know in the comments below or slap me with a cheeky follow, or say Hi to me on my Facebook group or Twitter or Instagram!