The Hengist: a stylish destination for food and drink in Kent

hengist bar

A champagne and cocktail bar has been created as part of the refurbishment of a Kent restaurant

In a Grade II-listed building dating back to the 16th century, The Hengist Restaurant has been operating in the pretty Kent town of Aylesford since 1980. Last year, it was taken over by new owners who stripped the whole venue back and created a new-look restaurant over two floors with a bar specialising in cocktails and champagne.

Spending more than £250,000 on the project, owners David House and Steve and Alan Swift worked with leading bar and club design practice Astounding Interior Design. The new-look Hengist has an informal brasserie-style dining room with bar on the ground floor, offering casual dining from breakfast at 8am until closing time. It is decorated in a traditional Tuscan-style design but with quirky twists, with antique and metallic leather that remain in keeping with the 400-year-old beams. In the warmer months, there is an outside terrace with distinct areas for eating and drinking separated by a stream that flows through the garden.

Upstairs are two fine-dining rooms which are more formal. The sumptuouss Crystal Room features designer Italian lighting and crystal glass-beaded wall coverings complemented by comfortable bespoke metallic silver and ivory seating and heavy glass bead curtains. The Amethyst Room has a more masculine feel, using purple leather from floor to ceiling, with padded banquette seating opposite sunset orange-leather lounge seats and silk curtain accessories.

Also on the first floor is The Horsa Bar which offers a wide choice of champagnes plus a large selection of spirits and international and local wines. It is named after the Anglo-Saxon leader Horsa who, with his brother Hengist, defeated the Picts invading Britain in the fifth century and went on to rule Kent. Inspired by this, the bar has a striking Saxon theme with stag heads and historical imagery alongside distinctive purple furnishings. The space includes a private booth called the Kings Table.

Bar manager Kieron Davidson has put together a list of cocktails, priced around £8.50 to £9, made with premium ingredients. It features familiar and twisted classics such as a Frozen Passion Fruit Daiquiri and a Champagne Mojito – a traditional light rum Mojito topped up with champagne. The signature Hengist Martini combines strawberries blended with strawberry and vanilla vodka and ice, topped with chilled champagne. Dessert-style cocktails include the Choc Peanut Butter Martini, combining Mozart Chocolate Cream White liqueur, Frangelico, butterscotch liqueur and dashes of cream and milk, and the Rhubarb & Custard Martini, made with rhubarb-infused vodka mixed with vanilla vodka, Advocaat and strawberries.

The Horsa Bar is open daily from 6pm until late, positioned as both a destination bar and a place for pre- and post-dinner drinks. The new owners wanted the whole venue to be more welcoming, from cocktail lovers to parents with babies. Steve Ward, design director at Astounding, adds: “The new look has been a massive success for the clients and bookings for tables, booths, rooms and as a wedding venue are continuing to grow each week.”

The Hengist, 9 High Street, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7AX
Tel: 01622 885800

hengist aylesford kent
Design: Astounding Interior Design
Lighting: Lightqube, LSE Lighting, Sylcom
Bar systems: ServaClean
Ceramics: Focus Ceramics, Trent Ceramics
Furniture: Geometric Furniture, Morris Contract Furniture, Pedrali, Amok
Furnishings: Brian Yates
Wallcoverings: Casamance
Upholstery: Andrew Martin, Crest JMT Leather, Futura Leathers
Carpet: Christy Carpets

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