Frasers is as an award-winning restaurant with rooms, located on a tranquil farm in the heart of the Kent countryside (plus it’s a gorgeous boutique wedding and events venue). A foodie destination in its own right with a 2 AA-Rosette award-winning restaurant, you won’t want to miss this!
One of Frasers’ main appeals is that you feel that you are in middle of nowhere immediately upon arrival despite being conveniently close to mainline stations (Ashford International is only 20-minute drive away or Headcorn is just 5 minutes away) so it comes as no surprise that it is the perfect bolthole for Londoners looking for a breath of fresh air or those just looking for time-out in the great British countryside. Frasers is situated at the end of a long farm track road from the pretty village of Egerton and cows greet you as you pass the fields allowing you to mentally leave to-do lists and work thoughts behind at the farm’s entrance.
You will find that local wildlife is also in agreement that this is the place to be as Frasers is home to buzzards, waders, owls, freshwater shrimps (no greater proof of the really clean water here) plus it even has its very own species of newt – The Great Crusted Newt – and the team regularly work with Kent Wildlife Trust to enhance their local environment. With a children’s Nature Trail about to be launched, this is somewhere where you can really lose track of time.
Frasers is an organically grown family-run business which has steadily become the rural foodie retreat it is today. Originally a working farm bought in 1958 by Fraser (of House of Fraser fame), it was transformed 15 years ago to be a hospitality business with a restaurant, house rentals and boutique style bedrooms and now supports 53 other rural businesses. Lisa Fraser, who is very hands-on when it comes to managing Frasers, has plenty of creative ideas stuffed up her sleeve for more innovative ways to improve their offering.
There has been a recent shift in direction here when it comes to Frasers’ vibe which we think will appeal. Traditionally, its reputation has been as an AA-Rosette award-winning restaurant which has attracted diners far and wide. As we know that desire for a formal fine-dining environment has lessened and you will now find a far more relaxed setting, more befitting of its rural surroundings, yet still with an emphasis on delicious food. This comes as no surprise when you learn that their chef was trained at The Dorchester, worked with the Roux brothers, and produced Christmas dinner for The Queen at Buckingham Palace one year so you are you in very safe hands in the food department.
Frasers has also just added its Tapas Terrace, our destination for this visit, with an emphasis on more informal dining and the style is very much all about upcycling and making use of the local resources around you. Our tables were old scaffold boards (I only know because I asked), the bar is featured within a builder’s container, the wine glasses hang from former palettes and flowers are prettily stored in old dairy churns, sheep creep feeders and troughs.
As it evolves, it will become more of a laidback destination rather than its former ‘fine dining’ status and as they are still in transitional stage, we fed back that the recorded piano music was surplus to requirements at the Tapas Terrace – far nicer to just hear the wildlife around you!
SCOFF & QUAFF
We have already shared the news that Frasers has the right foodie credentials but what you also need to clock is that there are lots of different options to suit every occasion. From Brunch to Afternoon Teas (they sold over 5,000 takeaway afternoon teas during lockdown) to the Garden Menu which we sampled on our visit to their Evening Feasting Menu consisting of six courses with food sourced and grown from around their estate.
They also have recently launched their Field to Fork menu which is another great way to try their locally sourced seasonal ingredients from the farm and local producers and their Frasers At Home service, launched during lockdown, has also been maintained which works well for self-catering guests or people looking for a helping hand with dining at home. The fillet of beef en croute, unsurprisingly, was a big hit.
I went with three girl friends and we tried lots of their tapas dishes, more of a reference to sharing plates rather than authentic tapas cuisine, such as the Tempura prawn with saffron aioli, chilli and coriander crabcakes, meat of the moment – Nduja on toast – and local butchers sausages drenched in honey and sesame, and grainy mustard, served with a creme fraiche and horseradish dip. Mushroom arancini with truffle mayo was also a big hit and got an immediate second re-order and we also loved their Asparagus with Kentish blue dip plus Tempura Garden vegetables with a chilli dip.
We did plenty of re-ordering to fuel ourselves and also ordered a Happy Goat sourdough pizza with Goats cheese, heritage tomato, red onion marmalade, spinach, balsamic glaze for the finale as we’d heard such good things – it did not disappoint.
Pudding wise, we shared a Spring rhubarb and apple crumble alongside a double chocolate fudge brownie – classic favourites done very well and huge portions too on this front so take note if you do not want to finish on an intense sugar-high.
As you may imagine, all our local wine producers are showcased on the menu, such as Chapel Down, Gusbourne, Biddenden and Simpsons and their Kentish Garden Spritzes will be hunting me down on my next visit as a refreshing cocktail alternative.
OUT & ABOUT
Should you get an unlikely case of cabin fever within this 300-acre of farming estate with endless walks on standby, there is also plenty to discover on your doorstep. Tenterden is 12 miles away and great for pottering around its wide range of indie shops plus you are in National Trust heartland with Sissinghurst Castle and Smallhythe Place also a short driving distance away. Nearby Rare Breeds Centre is a big hit with children as they can meet and pet friendly animals, including cuddly rabbits, hamsters, newborn chicks, goats and horses.
If you are looking for a destination for your next work retreat, then Frasers should be well and truly on your radar. The freshly launched, Stags Barn, which was part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, is formed of 4 unique units so plenty of space and privacy all-round with no awkward bathroom-sharing either.
They have thought of everything with a huge TV screen for inter-active presentations plus the kitchen/dining area can be used for self-catering, private dining, or cooking classes and you may also want to bounce work ideas off each other in the outdoor hot tub at the end of the day? Regardless of work, it’s also a fab place to consider for a big family get-together or hire for one ginormous party – now that we can…
Wellbeing is a key theme going forward at Frasers with yoga retreats, foraging sessions, mindfulness courses in the pipeline as well as forest-bathing and Nordic walking so you can really get back to nature. Lisa is also looking to add glamping to the mix but with Grand Designs-esque camping pods so you can lie back and gaze at the stars through the glass ceiling, but you can leave the more unsavoury parts of camping behind you. And a farm shop is also on its way!
Weddings are a big thing at Frasers (they were about to host 30 in 12 weeks when we visited) and there is also a permanent marquee on site to accommodate 120 guests so if you fancy a rural wedding with fine dining thrown in too, then this where it is at.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: It worked very well for a girls’ lunch but it would be a great destination for the family at the weekend/holidays especially with the Children’s Trail on the horizon.
NOT FOR: This is a tricky place to really indulge in the drinks side of things unless you have a designated driver in place but even more reason to book a bed for the night?
Our tapas dishes from The Garden Menu and the Sourdough Pizzas range from £9.50 to £12.50. Desserts were £8.50 so a little over the norm but they were huge so could easily feed two people. Within the Field to Fork menu, the prices are higher (around £18 for your main plus £4 for veggies and sides) and for Bed and Breakfast, you can expect to pay £170 for bed and breakfast within a standard room and up to £300 per night for the suite.