Here’s where we send one of our resident foodies into a local eatery and they tell it like it is. This month Undercover Eater visits Don Giovanni in Tunbridge Wells.
When it comes to food and drink, Tunbridge Wells is well-known for its diversity and multiculturalism. Italian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and British all sit harmoniously side by side, leaving locals and visitors alike spoilt for choice. But rather than visit one of the town’s many chain restaurants, my guest and I opt for a leisurely three-course meal at the independent, family-run Don Giovanni on Calverley Road as the setting for our first dinner date.
Largely home to restaurants of a more Oriental persuasion, Calverley Road is smack bang in the middle of Tunbridge Wells town centre. The restaurant is close to the main shopping district and Royal Victoria Place, as well as the hustle and bustle of Camden Road, making it ideal for keen shoppers in need of a quick bite to eat, or a longer, more relaxed dinner. We’re definitely here for the latter of the two.
Don Giovanni is a great little place. In terms of layout, it’s reminiscent of Chez JJ on Camden Road; a snug and inviting corner of the town’s culinary scene, providing a relatively small but nonetheless warm and intimate setting for our meal. It’s the kind of restaurant that’s perfect for a first date, where you’re given enough privacy to enjoy one another’s company, but feel part of a communal event at the same time.
To start, my guest and I tuck into a mixed Italian platter to share (£12.20). For my own second course, I opt for chicken breast in a mushroom sauce flambé with vecchia Romagna (£14.80), while my guest relishes her spaghetti carbonara with smoked bacon and cream (£9.45). The fare is fresh, wholesome and unmistakably Italian – a truly authentic taste of the continent rarely seen in the bigger corporate eateries in and around Tunbridge Wells.
Dishes are perhaps a touch more expensive than some of the Italian places you’ll find locally in terms of portion size, but the flavours are certainly worth the money. Plus, you can’t put a price on great service in a dining space that makes you feel as comfortable as this one. It really comes down to a matter of what you’re after; if it’s a full-blown gourmet experience like ours, you won’t be disappointed.
This is one of those restaurants where you feel like you’re part of the furniture the moment you walk in. Our waitress is friendly, helpful and attentive, complimenting my guest on her necklace and enquiring as to its whereabouts, so she can pick one up for herself. The sommelier is equally charming, treating us to a magic trick on our way out and highlighting the many merits of drinking red wine through a straw!
The only thing is…
The portion sizes could be a bit bigger for how much money you pay. Don’t get me wrong, the flavours are striking and the presentation impressive, but I’m a growing lad with a hearty appetite, so if I’m going to ditch smaller portions of fancier food for more traditional, homemade cooking, I want it to be just like mama used to make across the board, in quantity as well as quality.
100 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2UN
01892 529 442