Monday, 2 June 2014

Quex Park Cafe, Canterbury

A while ago I met up with John and Ellie for a brunch in town.  There are a number of wonderful little places to go to, but I needed somewhere with parking close by so I could get in and out as quickly as possible as I was on my lunch break from work.  John and Ellie, both being teachers, had a bit more time on their hands due to the holidays so could make it a much more leisurely pursuit and planned some shopping following our catch up.
Quex have opened their most recent venture on the north end of Canterbury high street.  Located near the City wall in the old pub/bar premises that has, in most recent years, housed a number of different ventures, the re-purposed building fits the rustic and local brand of Quex perfectly.
Exposed brick work and floor boards combined with sturdy, unpretentious furniture fill this surprisingly spacious cafe which is flooded with light throughout.  You get two stunning views of the Cathedral from inside, one of which is via a picture window.  Quex boasts that this is one of the best views of the Cathedral in Canterbury and it is pretty special.  If you can book this table, do so!  Speaking of booking, I would recommend you do so where possible.  We got there just in time; minutes after we took our seats at midday the cafe filled with tourists, business people and families.  It's not surprising; the menu is fresh, tempting and ridiculously reasonably priced.
Quex have always been about excellent food, locally sourced and sustainably produced and their Canterbury venue is no different.  You know that your sausages were provided by Nick in Sandwich, the eggs come from Simon and Austin in Birchington and Derek would have prepared your fish. Knowing the names of the people who are sourcing your food is strangely comforting and so much more preferably than an anonymous chain restaurant.
I had a perfectly cooked poached egg in hollandaise sauce on a salmon fish cake (thanks Simon, Austin and Derek!), with a side salad of Rosary goat's cheese, potato and pine nuts.  These items aren't advertised together (and are probably designed as two full meals...), but complimented each other perfectly.  This was not intentional I hasten to add, I was just craving poached egg and goats cheese and this was what I ordered to get both.  It was just completely fortuitous that it worked!  I normally require tabasco on a poached egg as well, but this one was divine, it needed nothing else at all.
With the addition of a fresh orange juice (driving + going back to the office after lunch meant no alcohol), the entire meal came to £15 for me.  I couldn't finish it and didn't have dinner that night either as I was still so full.  Quex has that effect on me - their sandwiches are enormous as well!

The others also ordered big portions as they didn't want to have to cook that night.  John went for the chicken and vegetable pie with a beautifully flaky puff pastry lid which came with fluffy mashed potatoes and steamed green vegetables and Ellie had one of their sandwiches. 
Food was delicious, service was attentive and the prices are extremely reasonable.  You also have the added benefit of the miniature farmers market in the building as well, including fresh produce as well as long life items - handy for when I don't have time to go out to Birchington to get to Quex for some of the other local items I love!

Quex are renowned for their breakfasts, which are enormous (just look at the one that Steve once got his hands on), and also do student nights on Monday's.  On Thursdays they have steak night and if you fancy something a bit lighter, on Friday's they put extra fish on.  There is a traditional Sunday roast and the menu changes on a regular basis.  There is even a micro-pub in the cafe which specialises in a varied selection from the local micro breweries, including bitters, Meade, fruit gins and local vodka's, something which will excite quite a few of my friends!
Finally, if you have a Tastecard, Quex also do 2 for 1 across all courses.  I need to get my hands on one!

I really, really love this place.  It's unpretentious, amazing quality and good value.  What more could you ask for?  If you have graduation coming up I would strongly recommend you consider bringing your nearest and dearest here for a pre or post-congregations meal, and possibly some Dutch courage if you are nervous about walking up to get your certificate!

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