The TN4 Bar has always been a popular watering hole and has recently upped its game on the food front in a bid to become a serious contender in the town. Joe Murphy went along to find out how it’s all working out
Its all gone a bit Autumnal on St Johns Road. The once effortless stroll form the office along Mt Ephraim has tuned into a mission – leaves blustering in from the common swirl out of the darkness and into car headlights, other pedestrians stumbling on the cobbled pathway avoiding joggers pounding towards Langton Green.
As usual though, after another long day at the coalface, my sights are locked on that gloriously cold and fizzy golden pint of Italy’s finest Nastro Azzuro Peroni. Lucky for me I’m heading to a place that serves, in my opinion, Tunbridge Wells’ finest – the ludicrously laid back TN4.
Ok – I admit I’ve been here before, it’s been a favoured after work bolt hole of mine for many years, so the recent change of direction coupled with the arrival of one or two new faces meant that my expectations were set higher than usual. I arrived, however, with an open mind and an empty stomach.
Entering through the newly refurbished front garden it’s pretty clear that no expense is being spared to upgrade the levels of refinement, a sentiment carried through to the new dining room which now boasts a series of intimate booths, flanking the stylish aluminium cocktail bar. The log burning stove had been lit in the corner, elsewhere the candlelight provided a cool intimacy – I was starting to believe.
Claude’s Restaurant @ TN4 reintroduces us to one of the towns most talked about Chefs, the irrepressible Claude Seddik. His resume sounds like something out of a cold war spy novel – hailing from the North African port of Tunis he emerged as a culinary force in the former Soviet state of Lithuania, winning the Baltic Masterchef crown and gaining prestigious posts as personal Chef to both Russian and Lithuanian Presidents. Years later he arrived on the scene in Tunbridge Wells having a stint at the Rusty Pelican and notably as part of Richard Phillips Michelin star winning kitchen at Thackeray’s. Being not of Presidential stock myself I began to feel a little overwhelmed!
Looking after us was Claude’s compatriot Sammy. Having been seated we were quickly treated to an amuse bouche of pan chicken liver on a swirl of pomme puree – a good start. The a la carte menu is seasonal, inventive and affirms Claude’s desire to establish TN4 as a serious contender. My opening plate of Carpaccio of Beef (£5.95) arrived elegantly, arranged like a Tudor rose delicately and deliciously finished with a citrus salad. This dish for me validated Claude’s CV in an instant.
To follow I opted for the Pan Fried Monkfish and King Prawn served with wild mushrooms in a Champagne and truffle sauce (£14.95), a luxurious bowl bringing together the contents of a Fortnum and Mason Christmas hamper. The sauce was well composed balancing the woody notes of the porcinis with mellow overtures from the truffle infused cream, the Monkfish was tender and the Prawns sweet and juicy. The generously priced wine list had dished out a very decent Petit Chablis at £14.95, a nod from across the table confirmed life was rather good.
If Claude is somewhat of a renaissance man, then his final offering of the eponymously titled Lemon Soufflé (£4.95) underlined his artistic credentials – lighter than a feather yet intensely lemony and served with a shot class of berry coulis. Owner Simon and his team have worked wonders in transforming this much loved party bar into a serious culinary contender. As the nights draw in, more and more diners will be drawn to the warmth and light of this alluring new concept – and don’t worry they still sell beer.
At a Glance
A la carte menu
Starters: from £4.95
Mains: from £8.95
Dessert: from £ 4.95
Wine: from £3.50 a glass
Cocktails: from £6.65
Name: Claude’s Restaurant
Address: TN4 Bar, 29 Mt Ephraim, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN4 8AA [MAP]
Telephone: 01892 515949