Tonbridge Old Fire Station is fast becoming a pop-up venue, renowned for good food events, as well as opening daily as a drop in cafe; for cake, coffee, light bites and snack. But if you haven't tried their cider, then it is time to book yourself in for a visit.
I popped along to have a look at the venue with an interest in hosting a pop-up event but was delighted to see that this Old Fire Station is putting itself on the map in Kent as one of the community hubs for people to meet. On the Thursday I went in, there was a group of knitters all around a long table enjoying coffee and cake, while crafting and exchanging tips and tricks on their creations. At another table a young couple were deep in to their study and another group of workers were hunched over their laptop, surrounded by paperwork. All the tables are set for sharing and made of large lengths of wood, with the chairs being sourced from local charities.
I met Sam Goode, who showed me the venue, treated me to a coffee and when I left, gifted me a selection of their own label cider and beer. Well, I am not really a beer drinker, nor cider, if the truth be told - but my daughter and partner are so I was looking forward to seeing their reaction to this new source.
In fairness I always give things a try, even if I don't think it is to my taste. And at the end of the day, any review or opinion is personally based on the preferences of the reviewer. I am always keen to point out to people to try something themselves, even if other people have and advise otherwise.
Anyway, I digress. So I got the beer home and popped it in the fridge alongside the cider. The beers were all the same, and the cider ranged from mild to medium-dry to elderflower. At around 7% in strength and made with 100% Kentish apples I was actually looking forward to sampling these. However, my cider-loving daughter (she is 25) got one taste of the elderflower and it was whisked away.
Since last year's London Tattoo Convention, where she tried elderflower cider for the first time, she has been looking for another to buy, and we think she may have now found it just down the road in Kent! Needless to say I only got a small taste but have to agree, it is pretty special. And I quickly secured the other two bottles of mild and medium to try with my partner, finishing the last one yesterday with dinner (and I didn't share). Since my visit I have popped in again, and last week came home with three more of the elderflower bottles to share.
As for the beer, well I am not a keen drinker but certainly enjoyed one cold with dinner last week. It has a smooth taste, not too hop-py and is inoffensive enough to be liked by many rather than brought by a select few. I would certainly entertain a few more bottle in the fridge for the weekend.
Aside from fine dining events, the Old Fire Station also offers a selection of gluten-free cakes, as well as loaded cakes and savouries for those less intolerant to allergens.
If you haven't been in since this event space opened last year then next time you are out and about around Kent, I would strongly suggest a visit. There are plenty of parking spaces around the corner, or in town - and if travelling by train, it is a short walk to the other end of town, up near the castle grounds.
For more information on the venue and coming events visit http://www.tofstn.com/