Those eagerly awaiting news of when leading chef Atul Kochhar will open a new restaurant in Tunbridge Wells will be delighted to hear an update from the chef himself. Foodies in the area were excited to learn the twice Michelin-star chef, who has many restaurants including in Mayfair and Marlow, was looking to open in The Pantiles.
The British-based chef and television personality has been at the forefront of Indian cuisine for more than 30 years. Last year, at Pub in the Park at Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells, he stunned foodies who had patiently waited in queues outside his pop-up restaurant with his tantalising dishes.
And he returns this year to the same event, again at Dunorlan Park, from July 7 to 9. When he opens Riwaz on The Pantiles, he will be in good company, as it is a bustling food and drink destination with restaurants, cafes, a hotel, regular food markets and live outdoor entertainment, during which people eat al fresco.
Mr Kochhar told KentLive this week that the restaurant on The Pantiles will “hopefully open by the end of the year”. He also said all the permissions were in place and he and his team were “working on it”. He previously told us: “I love Tunbridge Wells”.
As we reported last April, Riwaz will be in the former family-run Woods Restaurant near the bandstand. Listed building consent has already secured permission for the large Grade II-listed building, which has a ground floor and first floor restaurant.
The plan is to create a larger open-place kitchen, a new open bar area and a larger front-of-house dining space. In addition, a cellar room will be created and the toilets refurbished and extended.
Mr Kochhar earned his first Michelin star at Tamarind restaurant in 2001. He then opened his own restaurant, Benares in London’s Mayfair, in 2002, which earned him a second Michelin star in 2007.
Since then he has opened Sindhu at The Compleat Angler in Marlow, Hawkyns at The Crown Inn, Amersham, and Indian Essence in Petts Wood. The new Tunbridge Wells restaurant will be called Riwaz and there is already one of this name by the chef in Beaconsfield.
If the Riwaz in Beaconsfield is an indication of what’s to come at The Pantiles, it will serve “sensational Indian cuisine inspired by the history, cultural practices and rustic charm of the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengali, and Orissa among others.
“The menu follows tradition and pays homage to Atul’s Indian upbringing, whilst also recognising that traditions get upgraded with time”.