The Vittle & Swig in Tunbridge Wells is well worth a visit

I had one of my open water swim events at Bewl Water last Saturday morning, so Ellie & I decided to turn it into an overnight trip. After a one-hour train journey from Charing Cross we arrived at the Vittle & Swig in Tunbridge Wells 20mins early for our dinner reservation. Immediately we were taken in by the lovely vibe. The interior has been designed with a lot of attention to detail. It is both elegant and cosy.


Alex Blaber and Gerry Stevens, who own and manage the restaurant, mention in a short introduction in the menu that they aim to provide a home from home. Apparently, vittle & swig is colloquial for food and drink. The term ‘swig’ is not uncommon, but we hadn’t come across ‘vittle’ before.



We were seated at the bar for a few minutes, before being led to our table. The menu is largely focused on tapas-style dishes that come in at around £4.50 to £12 per plate. The waitress recommended ordering two to three plates per person.



The menu is not overly lengthy, so we had soon made up our minds. We ordered picante chorizo croquetas, apple and mustard (£5 for two), skirt steak, homegrown radish, chimichurri (£12), hand-picked crab, homegrown cucumber gazpacho, jalapeno, fennel (£10), crispy squid, yuzu ponzu, nori, and sesame salt (£8), and Scottish cod, BBQ English sweetcorn, kimchi, runner beans (£12). To drink, we opted for a bottle of sparkling water (£4.50), and (for me) a pint of Hertfordshire Appleshed Premium Cider (£4.20).



Unexpectedly, but highly appreciated, the waitress asked if we wanted the food to be served as and when or all in one go. Naturally we asked for all plates to arrive at the same time, as it’s best for photos. We were told that this would result in a bit of a longer waiting time. No problem.

After 25 minutes the very chirpy and cheerful waitress served the plates. Our expectations had been high already, but looking at the greatly presented dishes raised them even higher. We took a few pictures, then started to tuck in.



My personal favourite was the skirt steak. It was perfectly prepared, very pink. The chimichurri sauce didn’t necessarily look like much, but it was outrageously flavoursome. The radish mentioned on the menu turned out to be just one single baby radish, thinly sliced. However, it did add to the meal with its tang and in terms of presentation. I’m feeling pretty confident to say that this was the best skirt steak I’ve ever enjoyed in this country. And I love skirt steak and usually order it when it’s on the menu. The best one I’ve ever had was at a Cuban joint in midtown NYC, a few years ago. Ellie is not big on steak, but seemed very pleased, too.



Her favourite was the cod, and to me it was a close runner-up. Again, we couldn’t detect any potential for improvement in the preparation. Sweetcorn is usually not something I’m big on when it comes to restaurant meals. I like it, for example at the camp fire. That said, in my mind it is an ingredient that usually doesn’t leave much opportunity for the chef to show his or her skills. It’s quite a mundane ingredient.

The good folk at the Vittle & Swig in Tunbridge Wells, of course, managed to work their magic into the sweetcorn. Both in terms of flavour and texture it added a vital component to the meal. Similarly, who would have thought that thinly sliced runner beans could pack such a punch, almost like a chili pepper. The home-made kimchi doesn’t look like an obvious choice either. Luckily it wasn’t as aggressive as the one Ms B’s mom ferments in her pots. It was relatively mild. Entirely unexpectedly the various ingredients combined exceptionally well.


The crab meat could perhaps have been a tiny tad more plentiful. Moreover, it could have been more intense in taste. On the other hand, the cucumber gazpacho was way more intense, in a good way, than anyone could have guessed. Especially Ms B was quite partial to it. It’s impossible to go wrong with baby sorrel leaves or fennel, and once again the baby radish worked well in our view.



The squid and the croquetas were the least impressive of the five dishes. Still by all means tasty but nowhere near as fascinating as the other three plates.

Overall, this was one of the best meals we’ve had this year. We’d potentially hop on a train just for another go at a dinner at the Vittle & Swig in Tunbridge Wells. 5 out of 5 in our book.

Looking for more food posts? Feel welcome to have a look at our reviews of Da Capo, Vienna, Red Farm, London, or The Sir William in Grindleford. We’ve also blogged about fun tube station signs in London, the UK’s highest mountains, and the immersive experience “Van Gogh Alive.”

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  1. I was intrigued by the name of this restaurant, very interesting. I love the idea of these tapas style dishes, they all sounds delicious. Definitely a place I would like to visit. Good idea to make the overnight stay.

    1. Thanks so much for always leaving lovely comments on the blog, Gilda. Reminds me to follow up on your latest adventures. Yes, the Vittle & Swig was amazing and Ellie & I could do with a few tapas any day. 🙂

    1. I feel honored, Neha. 🙂

      I enjoy reading your thoughts about meals you’ve had and food in general. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed when you visit this fine Tunbridge Wells establishment. We’ll certainly aim to be back soon in order to check the rest of the menu (and perhaps eat some of the dishes yet another time, like the skirt steak, yes, definitely the skirt steak again for me)…. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tom. I’m so pleased you say you’d try this skirt steak even though you normally wouldn’t go for skirt steak. My job done. 🙂

  2. Looks like some mighty fine Vittles. If you had grown up watching the Beverly HillBillies like I did, you would have immediately recognized the term 🙂

  3. Looks like a great find, tapas is my favourite way to eat trying lots of different textures and flavours. Crispy squid sounds delicious and is one of my favourites. The Cod sounds great also. What a great find

    1. Thank you, Richard. Yes, definitely glad to have found this place. We’ll almost certainly be back some time soon to check out the rest of the menu (and to have some more cod and skirt steak). 🙂

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