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Kent - where else other than the Sportsman?


Harters
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Our trips to Kent have always involved catching the ferry at Dover. So eating in the county has also been near to the town (this year we've been to the Yew Tree @ Barfreston and the "Marquis at Alkham" - deservedly now in the GFG).

But we're now planning an early spring trip and staying for two or three days to do some touristing and eating.

The main focus will be a meal at the Sportsman. Obviously. But where else is worth a visit for lunch or dinner?

John Hartley

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Reads restaurant in Faversham (www.reads.com) is only a short drive from the Sportsman, and The Whitstable Oyster fishery Company (www.oysterfishery.co.uk) is even nearer! Reads is a fine dining 1 star place, very civilised the last time I went. The Oyster fishery company is good too, a wealth of seafood as you'd expect, although not cheap for it's spit and sawdust style surroundings.

Lee

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  • 2 months later...

The DH blog has recently visited a good chippie/fish restaurant and they also mention Age & Sons in Ramsgate. I also read about the Indian Princess in Margate, but only once which makes me wonder how genuine the review was, however the menu on their website looks very interesting.

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We're now pretty much sorted. Sportsman's tasting menu was the first thing to get booked. We've also booked Read's - the menu looks just our sort of food. So, with Fraiche the week before, that'll be three Michelin meals in 7 days. Life is hard.

We'd thought about the Whitstable Oyster Fishery place for our third night but were unable to make any contact by phone and there's also been no response to an email. While I was Googling, I came across an online review by Jasper Gerard slating it - in one of the reader comments mention was made of the Petit Poisson at Herne Bay, which sounds like a really nice small casual place specialising in seafood, so we've booked there.

Dos Hermanos does indeed mention a seafood restaurant/chippy at Ramsgate, which sounds bang on for lunch. Can't go to the seaside and not have fish & chips. Wot with me being a northerner.

John Hartley

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... that'll be three Michelin meals in 7 days. Life is hard.

... a seafood restaurant/chippy at Ramsgate, which sounds bang on for lunch. Can't go to the seaside and not have fish & chips. Wot with me being a northerner.

If you are on the North coast, it hardly seems worth going to Ramsgate for fish & chips.

If you were going to Ramsgate for other reasons, maybe you should try Age & Sons - Michelin recognised it, after all.

If you were going to Dungeness, on the other hand, The Pilot is justifiably renowned for its fish&chips. Though if you were going there (Jarman's house, the RSPB reserve, the nuke, maybe even the RH&DR), your best bet would be to cross the county line and visit Rye - not merely Benson's (or rather Mapp & Lucia's) Tilling. The Mermaid has the starched linen, but I prefer The George with its Moro connections (either could put you up for the night as well).

In mid-Kent, The Three Chimneys at Biddenden is well worth a visit if you were passing. And its quite close to the vineyard (though I happen to believe that their cider is more outstandingly, um, effective.)

Don't know about The West House in Biddenden though. Michelin likes it.

But back towards the North coast, you are within hiking distance of Canterbury. It'd be a shame not to become a pilgrim. In Canterbury, have a look at The Goods Shed. (You can always just browse around the market.) Like nostalgia, I'm afraid it was better a few years ago!

Just beyond Canterbury, there's The Granville (absolutely literally The Sportsman's sister's restaurant) with a Michelin Bib Gourmande. (Just think of The Sportsman, but minus the tasting menu and a lot of the difficulty of booking.)

And at Goodnestone, only a few miles off the A2, The Fitzwalter Arms has been much more interesting than the slightly foreboding architecture might suggest.

I'd say it was more interesting than was The Yew Tree at Barfrestone, which was busier, but is now closed.

Harters, you already know of The Marquis just outside Dover. (As do Michelin now.)

However, for something totally different, actually in Dover there's The Allotment.

And if you should be in Dover for the evening and up for the adventure, you might try The Carpathian Restaurant. (Lunch is remarkable, but maybe not what eGulleteers are looking for ...)

Walletts Court (a few miles towards St Margret's) would be a much safer, more boring and more expensive recommendation!

When its open, The Coastguard tearoom at St Margrets (at the Dover Patrol memorial) offers a deeply traditional tearoom, but perched on the top of the white cliffs and thus with views over much of the far East of Kent and (tide and weather permitting) of the Goodwin Sands ...

Wherever you go, enjoy your trip! (And you could get the count well above three without trying too hard or paying too much.)

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the extra tips, Dougal. I've filed away The Allotment for our next trip through the port (I'm planning another trip to the Great War battlefields for later in the year). And the Carpathian looks, erm,interesting (particularly the grilled chicken with watermelon :shock: ).

We plan a day in Canterbury (Goods Shed restaurant was closed when we last visited, so will have another try) and another day pottering round the northern coast.

John Hartley

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  • 5 months later...

KARL'S DELI, HIGH STREET, CANTERBURYWell, we finally got to Kent (see Sportsman thread for the review there. Other meals follow but a quick mention of a lunch in Canterbury.

We were after something more snacky than formal and spotted that Karl's Deli had a few tables at the back of the shop, and a couple more in a nice little courtyard. No hot food but they'll serve you up platters of their normal shop offerings - a charcuterie plate, a ploughmans and the like. Worth a stop if you're passing. Service was a tad slow but it was a sunny day and we got to take the weight off our touristy feet for a while.

John Hartley

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PETIT POISSON, PIER APPROACH, HERNE BAY

Without doubt, this is a place that needs some wider recognition for its simple but exceptionally tasty seafood cookery. It’s a small place, not 30 covers, literally on the approach to Herne Bay’s pier. There’s a short menu – half a dozen choices at each course.

We started with a couple of rock oysters each. Neither of us would claim to be oyster experts but, as far as can be told, these seemed to be as good an example as you might want to find.

For starters proper, I went for moules mariniere (they are also on offer as a main course, with chips and “a la crème” as well). Good plump mussels, tasty broth.

My wife went for what for her is a favourite dish – potted shrimps. This comes as quite a sophisticated presentation. The shrimps mixed with what seemed to be a little creme fraiche before being “potted” with a very orange butter. It came with toast as might be expected. The description also mentions cucumber – she expected slices – not a shotglass of a very intense cucumber juice. Lovely.

She followed with fried grey mullet which came with smoked bacon and almonds – a lovely combination which seemed to show more of its allegiance to Catalonia than Kent. Some just wilted spring cabbage and a potato gratin alongside. Damn good.

I’d gone for braised fillet of brill. Very simple with just a lemon and caper butter sauce which was bang-on. The same cabbage appeared here and worked just as well. And a couple of new potatoes.

For dessert, we had a rhubarb and ginger trifle which was pretty good but could have stood more “poke” from ginger. More fun was a strawberry jam tart with mint ice-cream – biscuit basket encasing the “jam”, a few strawberries and a strip of strawberry jelly. Loved it.

It’s rare these days that we go out and find an absolutely faultless meal. This was one of them.

John Hartley

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WILLIAMS & BROWN TAPAS, WHITSTABLE

Decorated in a modern style that’s definitely more Andover than Andalucia, this is possibly the oddest name for somewhere suggesting it presents authentic tapas. But, of course, this isn’t authentic as in a small snack to have with your chilled fino; this is authentic as in order four dishes for the two of you and that’s your dinner.

To be fair, food isn’t bad, though. The Good Food Guide score of 2 is about right. Decent olives and salted almonds provided something to nibble on while we decided what else to order. Once we had, things arrived at lightning speed, suggesting lots of prep. in the kitchen, followed by a quick warm-up in the microwave or under the grill.

The star dish was roasted cherry tomatoes on garlic toast. Very simple. Very delicious – the tomato squidging nicely into the toast.

Another good one was boquerones served with grilled guindilla peppers. The guindilla usually has a little chilli heat but we couldn’t detect anything here. That said, the dish still worked with the vinegariness of the fish contrasting with the oil that had fried the peppers.

Tortilla lacked flavour and was poorly executed – this was just a layer of spongy egg topped with mushy potato.

Albondigas were fine in themselves – good and meaty – but came in a very oily thin tomato sauce that was better off staying in the serving dish than being put in your mouth.

A side order of patatas bravas was nothing of the sort. It was, however, a decent helping of deep fried potatoes and a separately served (and too small) dish of spicy tomato sauce. This could have been good if there was more sauce to give a coating to the potatoes and if the spuds had been a bit more brisk frying to crisp them up.

All in all, we thought things were a bit over-priced for the quality on offer and, whilst a pleasant enough experience, wasn’t really value for money.

John Hartley

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EDDIE GILBERTS, KING ST, RAMSGATE

Fishmonger and chippy downstairs. Restaurant upstairs. There’s a menu of “proper” restaurant dishes but you can mix and match those with the standard chippy menu or their lighter options menu. So we did.

Both of my partner’s dishes came off the lighter options. Firstly, a bowl of very plump cockles in lemon juice. That was it! Lovely. Perhaps from the same source that we’d seen the night before at Whitstable harbour – the cockles are dredged off the seabed and then unloaded onto a lorry by JCB “grabber”. She then had mussels in Kent cider, cream and parsley and bowl of chips. Good dish – completely unfaffed about with.

If they have a signature dish, it must be the starter of a lightly boiled duck egg served with eel soldiers. A perfect combination of flavours – an oiliness from the eel, crisp breadcrumb coating, the soft unctuousness of the egg. A perfect dunking experience.

I followed that with what was a very large portion of haddock and chips. Excellent chippy chips, cooked in dripping. The fish was pretty damn good, if not perfect – the batter being a little soggy and oily.

Good lunch. Excellent staff.

I see from their website that I'm not the only one to like the place. Jay Rayner was there earlier in the year. He waxed much more lyrical about it - but then that's why folk buy the Observer, innit :biggrin:

John Hartley

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  • 8 months later...

WHEELERS

I’m not sure where to position Wheeler’s in my foody journey through life. It’s odd. A bit eccentric. Just twelve seats. And ramshackle seats, at that – situated in the back room of the seafood shop.

And, at my age, it’s important to know the location of the loo. That’s back through the front door of the shop, turn left, turn left again, down the alleyway, third gate on your left. You work up an appetite.

I’d read that service can be rude, particularly if you’re not a regular. Now, I wouldn’t say that we experienced rudeness. A touch of the eccentric, certainly. Perhaps a slightly unsettling sense that customers are on intruding on the owner’s day.

But the food is damn good. There’s a range of “proper” starters but you’re going to start with oysters, aren’t you? This is an oyster bar, after all. In Whitstable.

So, it was half a dozen Whitstable natives for me. Served entirely plain and needing just a squeeze of lemon. And, for herself, half a dozen battered rocks – a crisp batter made with Guinness.

She followed that with a portion of grey shrimps and salad. Now, that was supposed to be a single dish , noting the “and” between shrimps and salad. However, the owner forgot to write the salad on the order and, then, when we chased it up, the kitchen forgot to send it out. Eventually it came but the shrimps were all but eaten by then. A bit disappointing (not least by the lack of any sort of apology) – although the shrimps were in absolute peak condition.

I’d gone with roast cod – a new dish on the menu and it was a plate of immense loveliness. Big chunk of fish, nicely cooked flesh (although the skin needing crisping. But it was the clever use of accompaniments that really lifted this for me – crunchy asparagus, wrapped in salty Palma ham, a sweet pea puree (a few whole peas adding a bit of texture), small crisp fishcakes with a really zingy tartare sauce.

We passed on desserts – making sure we had left room for dinner at the Sportsman.

John Hartley

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Hello Harters, after reading your great descriptions about the places you've been to, I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I'm looking to stay somewhere in Kent before taking the Chunnel at the start of July, and would be delighted to eat at the Sportsman or indeed Eddie Gilberts. The problem: it'll be a Sunday evening when I'm there, and both close on Sunday afternoon. Any advice on somewhere else to eat? I have no accommodation in mind yet and am very flexible, but I will be driving from the Midlands on the day and simply won't be in a position to get to either of the above by 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

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Thanks for that, it seems the Allotment is also closed on Sundays :sad: Walletts Court looks nice though. Are there any other high quality fish and chip shops that come to mind, other than Eddie Gilberts? I can't fathom a fish and chip shop closing on a Sunday afternoon in the summer...

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... I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I'm looking to stay somewhere in Kent before taking the Chunnel at the start of July, and ... I have no accommodation in mind yet and am very flexible, ...

... Are there any other high quality fish and chip shops that come to mind...

By early July, Mark Sargeant's Rocksalt and Smokehouse should be open.

Accommodation - yes

Fish'n'chips - yes

Sunday evening - you'd have to ask ...

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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