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The Sportsman


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We were disappointed to see that the butter was not their own freshly churned as it used to be. When we asked why we were told that would be £1.50 extra!

By the way, The Sportsman has always charged for their butter, except if you order the tasting menu. And, not to split hairs, it's £1.20, not £1.50.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Pam,

I'm sorry to hear that you weren't happy with your experience at The Sportsman.

I just wanted to note, with regard to your comment:

I chose the dark chocolate mousse cake with raspberries and Jersey cream. The raspberries were good, the cake was a heavy stodge and the cream just a slick on the plate. I needed more cream but as usual the staff had done a disappearing act.

Was it similar to THIS? If so, it really wasn't airy/fluffy mousse-like when I had it either. It had more of a pudding (in the American sense of the word)/ganache consistency and weight. I thought it was excellent. But, I didn't for a second think of it as "diet food."

Phil Harris (joint owner) kindly rang me this evening and we spent a long time discussing my posting. He apologised profusely for the service but thought my other comments were unfair. Thinking it through it nearly all comes back to the lack of service. We would normally have ordered three courses, the main reason I didn’t was because one of our guests - my daughter’s partner is a very light eater and I knew he would only have a main course and I find it embarrassing if my guest has to sit and wait for me and my husband to eat a starter. If when we ordered and decided to have bread the staff had pointed out that there was no charge for the bread if we had a starter as well- just one evidently - I would of happily paid the extra for the home churned butter, to pay extra for the bread and the extra for the butter (£1.20) was getting a bit much.

If the staff had been about I would have asked for side plates, I am sorry but I don’t like wiping my bread around a bare table trying to spread the very hard butter. Phil assures me it is good Normandy butter but at the temperature it didn’t come through as such.

If the staff had been about I would have requested more cream and finished my pud, although heavy it was obviously made with quality chocolate. No it didn’t look like yours ‘ulterior epicure’ if I could find out how to load photos on e gullet I would show you! (E gullet help doesn’t tell you.) I do still think the puds are too expensive though.

As for my comment which Phil didn’t like about ‘a very basic pub’ I was referring to the atmosphere, which I have no problem with, not the food which is far, far superior to the majority of pubs.

Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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Had a truly stellar meal here last week. All in all, it might have been the most enjoyable, relaxed meal I have had in a very long time. At the same time, it was incredibly well executed and featured, what I consider the best products anywhere in the UK (at least as far as I can tell). Truly special place, that is worth any trip. PLus, the price beats anything else and only makes you enjoy it even more.

Highlights included a spectacular turbot, pork, lamb belly and crab risotto. Pics of all of these are here, as usual.

Anyone with an interest in food is obliged to make his way down here at some point.

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Felix is right, it is worth a special journey.

Our drive there today took nearly four hours, and the stop- start motorway journey back, another five and a half.

If you asked me if I would do it again next week, no.

Next month, perhaps. :smile:

Its a heck of a day trip for us and really deserves an overnight stay in the area.

If it were my local we would eat their twice a week, its that good, and the pricing is perhaps the best for quality anywhere.

Will write it up soon :smile:

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Felix is right, it is worth a special journey.

Our drive there today took nearly four hours, and the stop- start motorway journey back, another five and a half.

If you asked me if I would do it again next week,    no.

Next month,  perhaps. :smile:

Its a heck of a day trip for us and really deserves an overnight stay in the area.

If it were my local we would eat their twice a week, its that good, and the pricing is perhaps the best for quality anywhere.

Will write it up soon :smile:

DId you go from London?

We took the train from Victoria and it took 1.20h + 10min cab ride. All in all, reasonable for such a meal.

You're right, the pricing is just unreal.

Looking forward to the details.

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Felix is right, it is worth a special journey.

Our drive there today took nearly four hours, and the stop- start motorway journey back, another five and a half.

If you asked me if I would do it again next week,    no.

Next month,   perhaps. :smile:

Its a heck of a day trip for us and really deserves an overnight stay in the area.

If it were my local we would eat their twice a week, its that good, and the pricing is perhaps the best for quality anywhere.

Will write it up soon :smile:

DId you go from London?

We took the train from Victoria and it took 1.20h + 10min cab ride. All in all, reasonable for such a meal.

You're right, the pricing is just unreal.

Looking forward to the details.

London?

I wish.

We live fifty miles north of Birmingham, :shock: everywhere worth dining at is a journey for us.

Still there are very few disappointments, so we accept the travel problem.

Just enjoyed a piece of the stunning red onion and rosemary focaccia that they gave us as a doggy bag :biggrin:

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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London?

I wish.

We live fifty miles north of Birmingham, :shock:  everywhere worth dining at is a journey for us.

Sigh.. a pain I know only too well living in the.. cultural hotbed of Stoke-on-Trent

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London?

I wish.

We live fifty miles north of Birmingham, :shock:  everywhere worth dining at is a journey for us.

Sigh.. a pain I know only too well living in the.. cultural hotbed of Stoke-on-Trent

Here are the photos

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=mo...lbum&album=6663

Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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I'm really miffed The Sportsman is so far away.

Every county should have one, at least to my mind. Still we can dream ,eh.

For me this journey (by car) apart from Edinburgh, is the farthest we have travelled, and perhaps arguably had one of our best meals.

I sat navved the route and relaxed back and followed "Audrey's" haughty instructions until we reached Faversham Road.

At the junction thankfully SeaSalter was signed left, as we had no number to put into the system.

The approach to The Sportsman is quite surreal, with its quaint, rundown , weather beaten houses.

Its extremely romantic in a childlike way.

In your wildest dreams, you could not imagine a temple of gastronomy would await you at the end of the road.

Everything inside is stripped pine, oak, wooden floors, and laid back nice.

Don't expect table cloths, or side plates, basically, what you see, is what you get, rustic in other words, very Frenchy in a way.

We hummed and hawed about the tasting menu, and came to the conclusion that we should plump for the carte ( blackboard) especially as we really fancied some of the choices, rather than a surprise.

I confirmed that Stephen was in the kitchen, when I made the booking, and indeed he phoned me back to confirm the same.

He came out of the kitchen to greet us and we immediately relaxed into what was an amazing journey.

First the bread,

Stephen's favourite, Sourdough, yes fantastic,

Our favourite, Red onion and rosemary focaccia, a stunning, oozing olive oil coated triumph, beautifully crisped outside, and the right amount of chewiness on the in.

The other was malted? which was fine.

Of course we had the home churned butter, topped with home made salt. Delish.

The adventure had well and truly begun.

This is what followed.

Pork scratchings, grain mustard, breaded herring?

Rock Oysters with home made chorizo

Grilled slip sole

Seared thornback ray, cockles, sherry vinegar.

Bresaola home cured with wine and spices.

Monkshill farm Lamb with mint sauce

Monkshill farm Pork with apple sauce

Elderflower lolly, posset, fritter.

What a revelation,

Keep it simple!

Keep it true!

Taste is all!.

The scratchings were great, home made, of course, brought to the table by the man himself, with a description as to provenance. Loved the grain mustard.

The oysters, Well what can I say?

They were truly superb, no other way to describe, fresh as a daisy, we could have eaten these till we popped!

Bresaola was tasty although I don't have a real comparison to make.

Slip Sole, simply grilled, loads of butter, topped with chives, wonderful.

The Ray was slightly crisped to add an extra bite to it,sitting atop some good asparagus,lots of butter and more than decent cockles.

The Lamb was a baby, milk fed, served as the leg and shoulder,served with good mash and tasty jus, the little pot of mint sauce, did its job.

Pork, again with mash and shredded cabbage,was extremely more-ish, nice apple sauce.

We were on a savoury quest so one dessert was fine, however, and my only very small pick was that it was tiny, especially given the previous generosity.

The elderflowers were picked from the hedgerow, and according to our server, elderflowers have been in bloom for weeks here, whilst ours are just bursting forth.

Had a good chat to Stephen afterwards, as we looked out to the kitchen garden, with its work in progress pathways of oyster an scallop shells.

He is in Paris right now enjoying a few days off sampling a few three star places, and perhaps a couple of lesser, he deserves it.

Don't worry the place is still open, but don't expect the tasting menu, its his baby,and when(very rarely) he's not their,its not served.

Incidently if thats what you order, he cooks it and serves it, with a detailed description. All part of the special appeal of this place.

Well to sum up,

I'm a bit sad that its not closer, and for me a big part of the draw would be the fact that you can dine like a Prince or a Pauper, there's something for everyone.

The bread alone with any of the starters is a wonderful meal, add a pint of ale or a glass(or two) of wine and bingo its party time

I can not think anyone would tire of eating here.

As touched on before the value for quality is terrific, that really gets to my heart.

We were given a doggy bag of the bread, a big hunk of pleasure as a fond gesture of goodwill, must not forget the butter also.

The journey back was painfully slow, soothed by the lingering thoughts of the meal, and of course, the thought of that fantastic bread when we arrived home.

Truly special!

Meal for two including ample wine, a couple campari and sodas, service

£110.

Food Miles 457

Food smiles :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

I know that I will remember other stuff as the day progresses, however, please remember to pack some sensible shoes for a wonderful walk along the beach

Happy Days.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Sounds like you had a great time. So you did beat me there in the end! God knows when I'll get the chance to get down there.

Just a thought, its probably best that the place is quite a trek, if was on your doorstep, I'll bet you would hardly ever go. :wink:

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Sounds like you had a great time. So you did beat me there in the end! God knows when I'll get the chance to get down there.

Just a thought, its probably best that the place is quite a trek, if was on your doorstep, I'll bet you would hardly ever go.  :wink:

Well, I completed on my house purchase today at long last and am now a Faversham resident - so seriously looking forward to my first trip, hopefully first of many :biggrin: . The previous owner of my house raved about it - and apparently I can walk there in 90 minutes!

Anyone have other tips for the area? Reads, I guess, Age & Sons in Ramsgate I have read about, anywhere else I should put on my list?

Helen

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  • 4 weeks later...

Had an excellent lunch at the Sportsman, and they truly lived up to their reputation. The place has been getting a lot of hype recently of course, and unlike many places this was certainly one of them that more than lived up to the hype. I was actually quite worried that I would not have enjoyed this meal as much having just returned from a marathon that is Christian Bau.

Silly me... this was a class above most 1* restaurants in London and would put some 2*s to shame. My guests (travelling from Australia and Malaysia) remarked that this was by far the best meal they have had in England so far.

The Surprise Tasting Menu:

1) Rock Oysters, Home-made Chorizo

2) Pork Scratchings, Apple & Wholegrain Mustard Dip; Pickled Herring, Gooseberry Jelly, Horseradish & Soda Bread

3) Bread - Sourdough, Red Onion & Rosemary Foccacia, Soda bread; Homemade Smoked Sea Salt Butter

4) Baked Oyster, Jersey Cream, Gooseberry Granita

5) Native Lobster Soup

6) Salmagundy

7) Seasalter Ham (cured in December 2007)

8) Turbot Braised in Vin Jaune with Smoked Pork

9) Crispy Lamb Belly, Mustard, Mint Sauce

10) Roast Rack of Milk-fed Monkshill Farm Lamb, Braised Shoulder, Broad Beans

11) Elderflower Iced Lolly with 'Cake' Milk

12) Local 'Fruit Salad'

13) Rhubarb Sorbet, Shortbread, Jasmine Tea Jucket with Raspberry Sauce & Breakfast Cereal, Raspberry Tart, Chocolate Brownie

13 absolutely breath-taking courses for a mere £55... an absolute bargain if you ask me. The highlights were the pork scratchings (so good I had seconds), salmagundy, turbot and the elderflower iced lolly. Moreover, the mark-ups for wine are a breath of fresh air coming from London. 1999 Dom at £135?? That is pretty much retail! We certainly drank very well here! Of course, getting here from London is a bit of a trek. How I wish I lived in Faversham and could eat here everyday.

(Probably post a review on my blog when I am done digesting every single tasty morsel)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just following up on my previous post - the blog write-up is done, now with lovely DLSR photos (albeit I am crap at using the camera).

I don't think I need to say much other than this was one of the most memorable meals I have had this year. Here is an excerpt:

So why is it worth travelling all the way to the corner of the country to eat at a gastro-pub, what with the many excellent ones we have in London? The one word answer to that question is ‘Passion’. When most chefs appear on TV to talk about seasonality and sourcing local products, it does not hold a candle to what chef/ owner Stephen Harris is doing. Whilst some 3* restaurants in this country are not even bothered to bake their own bread (I am looking at you Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsay) they not only bake their own bread, but also churn their own butter, grow their own vegetables, rear their own pigs and cure their own ham. A cynic may claim that all these DIY stuff are gimmicks. I mean, churning your own butter? So with that in mind, I set off to see whether ‘the juice is worth the squeeze’.

.

.

.

Coming to Sportsman, there was a lot of hype to live up to, given the good reviews that they have received as of late. I was honestly blown away by the food put in front of me. Ok, so this is not 3* cooking but the beauty of the meal is that everything is simplistic and effortless. The food is not fussy nor is it pretentious. There are no foams, no triple reduced sauces and no pretention. Chef Harris has wisely kept things to a bare minimum which allows the beauty of his produce to sing. This is definitively food that you want to get stuck into. On reflection, the tasting menu at £55 was an absolute bargain given the amount of food and its quality. The only problem with the Sportsman is its location which is pretty hard to get to without investing some effort. With the newly developed bullet train line from King’s Cross to Ashford, perhaps foodies should set up a petition for a similar line to be built between London and Whitstable.

Here is the link but obviously don't feel obliged to click.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anyone have other tips for the area? Reads, I guess, Age & Sons in Ramsgate I have read about, anywhere else I should put on my list?

Helen

Reads is fine, reasonably priced with a decent wine flight to go with the tasting menu (and for lovers of stickies a choice of two dessert wine flights). It's never going to set the world on fire but delivers consistently good food.

Age & Sons is truly weird, it is getting great reviews everywhere and I can't understand why. The food varies from the brilliant to the abysmal but the service always sucks. Seasoning seems to be a huge problem there, over, under, who knows which way it will go. If you're going to venture to Ramsgate try Bon Appetit on Westcliffe Arcade, Mark Way's cooking is excellent and always up to standard (not something you could say about the service). Michael Caines @ Abode in Canterbury is worth a visit, I've seen mixed reviews but my half dozen or so visits have always been a pleasure.

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  • 1 month later...

Congratulations to Steven Harris on being selected as the Good Food Guide's "Chef of the Year".

Just happened past at lunchtime yesterday to discover a BBC South East News crew doing the story ...

Just a couple of reflective comments about a couple of things mentioned previously.

- seemed half-empty yet "fully booked". They don't cram the place. And they take some pressure off the kitchen by scheduling tables to arrive one at a time. So, at the start of service, the place can be pretty empty, yet 'fully booked'. Yesterday, they had a party of a dozen or more, and seemingly just a handful of other tables taken - yet a lady came in (to make a booking for later in the week) having failed to get a table for that day, and seemed surprised that the place looked 'quiet'. However without a booking, you could well be lucky enough to nevertheless get starters and puds. Seemingly other tables were expected inside, since my (excellent) early-ish snack of crab risotto was served in the conservatory. BTW, the same scheduling/booking policy applies at The Granville.

If it maintains the excellent standards (and they make an adequate living) then I'm all in favour.

Be prepared to book!

- I've had the dense (flourless) "chocolate cake" at The Granville, and the only likely disappointment would come from expecting anything remotely like a sponge cake. Think more of dense, very chocolatey moussey tart without the pastry. And one should appreciate that there is some whimsy among the desserts - as with the 'sorbets'.

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

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I will be heading to London in early November arriving Friday morning, leaving Sunday afternoon. I really want to go to the Sportsman and was wondering how long the door to door trip takes from the centre of London and if it is worth the trek given we only have a couple of days? I was thinking Saturday lunch might the best bet?

I have a shed load of other places I want try too and will probably be back over early in the New Year with a little more time on my hands.

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patrick, it's an easy trip, victoria station (i think) to faversham, pick a cab up there, 15 mins to the resto. probably a good hour from london in total but it's eminently doable in an afternoon, it'n not hard to get there just before 12, have a blow out and get back in time for a train 4 -ish, or alternatively a few beers in the pub across the road from the station in faversham.

try google for the local cab firm in faversham and they'll meet you at the station.

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 1 month later...

So, another day, another foodie pilgrimage. Manchester to the Sportsman - 250-odd miles.

A simple trip from Victoria to Faversham, as advised by Gary. Plenty of cabs at the train station and a short drive to the pub. Somewhat bracing day with the sea winds making me go inside as soon as we got there.

The first impressions were of an incredibly warm and friendly place. A pint of the local Shepherd Neame ale and off we went.

Much of the tasting menu has been discussed here, so I'll skate over those bits:

Pork scratchings, pickled herring open sandwich with crab jelly

I may never be able to eat a pork scratching again after these. A somewhat heavy night of drinking had taken place the previous night and these may be the perfect remedy. The herring was lovely too.

Oysters with chorizo

Served by Stephen and explained how this dish in many ways encompasses the essence of the pub. Local produce with home-made elements. The smokiness of the chorizo sets off the salty oyster perfectly. At £1.50 each, if I lived anywhere near (and sadly I don't) then I'd eat them by the bucket-load.

Poached oyster with Jersey cream and apple compote

The same local native oysters came this time warm with a rich Jersey cream sauce, and somewhat surprisingly, the apple compote was extremely cold. The temperature contrasts really worked and, although I prefer my oysters raw, they were very pleasant.

Bread - Sourdough, onion and rosemary focaccia, rye with home-made butter

Seriously, seriously good bread with the butter that has been eulogised at great length before

Salmagundi

Apparently a traditional name for a seasonal salad. This was great - autumn/winter on a plate. The range of textures made this dish. Parsnip crisps, onion puree, raw and cooked cauliflower, roast beetroot, turnip. And some other things that escape me right now.

Slip sole with seaweed butter

The small, native relative to the Dover sole was served on the bone, whole, cooked in the seaweed infused butter that they also make themselves. This was a serious piece of cooking. The fish was perfect. Firm and meaty in texture and the delicate seaweed didn't overpower it in any way. This was probably the best fish I've ever had in a restaurant.

Steamed sea bass with smoked herring sauce, green beans

My only fault with this meal, and it is a small one, is that no sauce should ever be grey. A beautiful fish that Stephen said had been line caught the previous evening and was "bloody massive". This was firm and sweet, in only the way that good sea bass is. The sauce, whilst looking absolutely hideous, was actually lovely, with a subtle smokiness.

Sportsman ham

I have a ham obsession. I have my own pata negra iberico ham at home. And this is as good as anything I've ever had.

Lamb belly

As discussed before. My god, it's good.

Rack and shoulder of lamb

This was truly incredible. The rack of lamb was pink and tender. You could cut it like butter. I can only assume it was sous-vide to get the texture they did. The shoulder had been slowly cooked and presented with a piece of the crisped skin. Served with spinach and the richest lamb jus I've ever tasted.

Pear ice-lolly, Jamaican ginger cake milk

This was fun. The pear lolly was in a large espresso cup filled with a sauce made with local milk and ginger cake. I felt about 6 eating this.

Apple sorbet, burned cream, shortbread

The apple sorbet , with a topping of sharp yoghurt was superb. The addition of space-dust was most amusing to my friend. The burned cream (creme brulee) was a classic and can't be faulted. The small square of shortbread was a nice addition

Chocolate tartlet, tangerine ice-cream, jasmine tea junket with rosehip syrup, cream cheese ice cream

4 desserts in miniature. The chocolate tartlet was very, very intense. I don't think I could eat a larger portion of this. The pastry was divine and melted in the mouth. A just-churned tangerine ice cream was sweet and sharp. A fine example. The junket was a bit of a disappointment, neither tasting of rosehip or jasmine. The cream cheese ice cream was rich, served with meringue and cake crumbs.

My overall impression of this place is one of superlative cooking and real respect for the ingredients used. I loved everything about the meal and the warmth of the staff was great. The cooking was faultless and well worth the trip.

Adam

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  • 2 weeks later...

I returned to the Sportsman the day I came back to England and was greeted by another great meal. The cooking seems to be evolving more and more towards the idea of using various parts of a product, which is great and the products are of course as good as it gets in Britain. Service is fantastic, and one simply feels very happy and well in this place. That is one of the greatest compliments I could think of giving to a restaurant. It's hard to go as far as naming favourite dishes, but the level is incredibly high and constant.

The only thing, Stephen could improve a little would be the desserts, which sure are fine by 1* standards, but are much less interesting than the rest of the food. This time, the star among the sweet parts of the meal was a fantastic ice cream made from the pits of plums.

Here's the full story.

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  • 2 months later...

Well, we're finally schlepping down from Cheshire and have booked the tasting menu for dinner on 24/3. That's a week after we're at Fraiche. This retirement lark is pretty good!

We're going to have a couple of days. Probably one round Canterbury and another pottering round the coast. So, I'm still in need of a couple of dinner and lunches. I've a wider Kent thread and would still welcome any recommendations here

John Hartley

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