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A new 22-seater restaurant, serving "proper, fresh food" from northern Italy, has opened in Tunbridge Wells.

La Follia, on Monson Road, is run by Sara Velutti and her partner Antonio. They cook in an open kitchen at the back of the intimate restaurant.

"We want to be everything – coffee shop in the morning, lunch spot, bar, family restaurant," said Ms Velutti, who added,"I am thinking maybe we will do nibbles for the evening, for people who want to come and drink a glass of wine."

Regional cooking varies widely Italy. Ms Velutti is from the north of the country, near Milan, an area famous for its risotto.

The restaurant takes over from the site of Max's Genuine Italian.


Royal Thai

Royal Thai


A new Thai restaurant has opened on Crawley High Street less than a year after another Thai eatery in the same building closed. Located next to The George Hotel, Royal Thai Taste has opened on the former Giggling Squid site. Giggling Squid shut its Crawley branch last June having been open for five years, two months after another Thai restaurant, Lemongrass, opened nearby.

New owners Namthip Willcox, Natthaphan Phatthance and Duennapa Kemthong have set up the business after running a kitchen service at a pub in Newbury, Berkshire.

"My family always told me to try new things, that I should never be scared to follow my ideas,” said Namthip, adding, "I sat down with Natthaphan and Duennapa and asked if they wanted to start up a business, as Natthaphan is a great cook and Duennapa is a perfect host.”

The restaurant enjoyed a busy opening weekend after the doors opened for the first time.


Just Do It

Just Do It


The Asian Catering Federation and JUST EAT have announced an Edinburgh date for its hygiene and nutrition road show.

The ticket-only event will take place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh on Tuesday 9th and follows a similar event in Bristol on 3rd May.

Speeches will be followed by a complimentary 4-course dinner and live entertainment. There is no charge to attend, although pre registration is required.

The seminars, designed to show restaurateurs and chefs how to make their businesses more successful.

JUST EAT MD, Graham Corfield, will be sharing an insight into local online consumer habits, popular cuisine and dish choices. He will also be talking about how technology can help restaurant owners to grow their business.


Ground Zero

Ground Zero


The Food Standards Agency has revealed a list of restaurants, takeaways and food outlets with the worst hygiene ratings in Kent. Each venue has to be checked by council officials every two years. Ratings are given on a range of issues including: paperwork; ondition and layout of the buildings, plus how food is handled, repared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored. Eateries are given scores out of five, ranging from zero, meaning urgent improvement necessary, to 5, translated as 'very good'.

Eateries are given scores of between 0, meaning 'urgent improvement necessary' to 5, translated as 'very good'.

Those with a zero score were: M & M Cash & Carry; Gurkha Superstore (Ashford); Aylesford Prioryriars (Aylesford); Abi Food & Wine; Dickens World, ABZ, Euro Foods, Rendezvous (Chatham); Papa Pizza (Dover); Kent And Surrey Golf (Edenbridge); Windmill Café (Folkestone); Milton Express (Gravesend); Northdown Road Groceries, Sombreros (Margate); Bill Inn (Newington), Atrium,Thai Market (Rochester); Rajdani,Tally Ho, Forge House Restaurant, The Vine (Sevenoaks), Crockenhill Indian (Swanley), Osborn Premier Stores (Tunbridge Wells); and Larratt & Co (Westerham).

One star venues (major improvement necessary) are: R Price & Sons, New Hong Kong Kitchen, Old Prince of Wales, Tandoori Nights, The Phoenix (Ashford); Al-Madina Tandoori, Happy Times, Woodlands Minimarket (Aylesford); Italia Mia (West Walling), Rossetti Lodge (Birchington); Northgate Delicatessen,New Inn (Canterbury); Slow Bread (Whitstable); The Plough (Herne Bay); Seaside Seafood, Harbour Seafoods, Pier Head Shelter, The Harbour, Greggs,Beano Kebabs, The Chapel (Broadstairs); S&S Ministores, Select and Save, 4 Continents Stores, Sun Pier Chinese Takeaway (Chatham); Hakwhurst Café (Cranbrook); Dial-A-Pizza, Shellfish Stall, Grove Villa, Jenkins & Son, Marmaris Kebab and Pizza House, Nightingales, SPN Minimart (Deal); International Store, Dover Working Man's Club and Institute, Bob’s Hot Dogs & Burgers, Bridge Street News, Castle Inn, Cinnamon Island, Twin Restaurant & Takeaway, (Dover), Little Farthingloe Farmshop, Adelaide Farm Café (Hacklinge); Bough Beech Sailing Club (Edenbridge), Oliviers, Aspendos Kebab House,TSK Greengrocers, Twin Dragon (Folkestone); Swan Hotel Pub (Hythe); Peverel Green Supermarket , Peverel Grill, Bharath Spices, Bon Bon, Byron Road Store, deMart Global, Express Food Centre, Grange Road Stores, K ent General Food Store, Londis, Poet's Corner Stores, Rileys, Shipa Tandoori, Soli Café, Sunny News (Gillingham); Denton Fish Bar, Lucky Dragon, Three Crutches (Gravesend); Pizza & Kebab, Sheppey Club Snack Bar, Nicolas Kitchen (Leysdown), 99p Store, Oakwood Park Grammar School, Wai Yin, Belal Halal Meat, Bettys Newsagents, Codfather, Lashings, Milano's Pizza & Kebab, Pizza Go Go/ China Go Go, Super Pizza, Wok Kitchen (Maidstone), Garlinge Newsagents, International Food Centre, Liquor Locker, Papps Fish Bar, Resul Premier Convenience Store, Seeafedo, (Margate); Frydays Fish & Chips, Stonnes Fishery, (Minster-on-sea); Bells Fish Bar (Paddock Wood); Causton's Cuts, Primier G & A Stores, (Ramsgate) ; Castle Food & Wine, Diamond Garden, Marlow Park Convenience Store, Peking Express, Premier Store & Post Office, Red Dog, Farmview Butchers, Kent Mart, Limehouse Thai,The Gurkha's Way, (Rochester); Bagel ,Sevenoaks Hospital Kitchen, The Vineyard, Kippington Nursing Home, Raj Bari, Sevenoaks, Soprano Delicatessan, Moorings Hotel, Tom Bell Traditional Fish & Chips, The Windmill, (Sevenoaks), China Star (Orpington), Nats Snax, Blaze International, Reece's Plaice, Welcome Chinese, British Raj, Magic Wok Takeaway, Mario's, Shortlands Road Newsagents, Sittingbourne Kebab House (Sittingbourne); The News Stand, Swanley Park Café, Stantons Newsagent, JS News, Londis, Shurlock Stores, Swanley Produce & Wine Store (Swanley); Cross Keys, NY Eleven, Sapranos, Stop N' Save, Camden Quarter, Ocean 2, Peter Speaight Butchers (Tunbridge Wells), Friendly House Chinese, Londis, 23 (Westgate On Sea).


Empire Building

Empire Building


Michelin-trained chef Craig Mather is to leave his post as chef lecturer at East Kent College in Broadstairs, to take over The Empire Room restaurant in the Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate. The venture is a partnership between Craig and James Thomas, owner of the award–winning boutique Royal Harbour Hotel. Craig will assume responsibility for the club-like, 30-cover Empire Room from the beginning of July.

Prior to joining East Kent College in 2011, Craig was head chef of Eddie Gilbert’s gourmet seafood restaurant, which closed in May 2013 following the death of its popular proprietor, Jonny Dunhill.

Whilst Craig, who trained at the Michelin-starred Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, was at Eddie Gilbert’s it won a string of awards. It achieved two Taste of Kent Awards; was named Best Newcomer at the Kent Restaurant Awards and declared overall Pride of Thanet winner.

Before Eddie Gilbert’s, Craig spent a year at Yew Tree Inn, Barfrestone in Kent, when it won the Good Food Guide’s award for Best Newcomer. Craig’s signature dish of soft boiled duck egg with crispy smoked eel soldiers was named ‘Starter of the Year’ by leading food critic Jay Rayner in an end of year restaurant round up in The Observer newspaper. Former fans of Eddie Gilbert’s will be delighted to hear that the dish will be reprised under Mather.

Under Mather, The Empire Room will open for lunch offering a set menu at £12 for two courses and £15 for three. For Monday to Thursday evening service, the restaurant will offer a set dinner menu at £18 for two courses and £22 for three, plus a full a la carte. On Monday evenings the restaurant will host a weekly supper club, with three courses for the price of two. On Sundays the lunch menu will cost £19 for two courses and £25 for three. The restaurant is closed Sunday evenings.

Double rooms at the Royal Harbour Hotel start of £90 a night.


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