Using Ramsgate as a hub

One of Ramsgate’s strengths is its excellent infrastructure, with multiple high speed train routes from London and some very useful bus routes.

This makes Ramsgate an ideal place to use as a hub  to visit the nearby places of interest (although there’s lots to see and do locally in Ramsgate too). If you’re visiting Ramsgate for a bit longer you may want to go further afield – for example to try one of the three Michelin 1 Star Restaurants within easy reach.

The Map below covers these restaurants and some other restaurants and cafes to try on Day Trips.

Day Trips from Ramsgate

The following Map provides some ideas for day trips from Ramsgate. These suggestions are generally less than one hours drive away and reachable via Public Transport.

The Map includes Museums, Castles, Vineyards, Wildlife Parks, Nature Reserves and places that provide activities like Climbing, Gliding, Ballooning, Canoeing & Boat Trips.

If you’re visiting Ramsgate and planning to stay local. Check out the Visit Ramsgate Website and the Maps & Trails page that covers Eating & Drinking, Tourist Attractions and Activities in Ramsgate.

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Travellers in Italy – Pizzeria & Rosticceria

On our visit to Ramsgate’s newest restaurant (it’s only been open for three weeks at the time of writing this review) executive chef Craig Mather was manning the small Kitchen area and pizza oven left over from Pizza Express, the previous tenants of this landmark building overlooking the Royal Harbour.

Travellers in Italy may be a strange name for a restaurant but I think any travellers to Italy would be more than happy to find somewhere that served Pizza this good. The sourdough base was lovely, but what really stood out to me when I took the first bite of my Tartiflette Pizza (crispy smoked pancetta, slow cooked onions, confit garlic, Jersey Royals, cream, parmesan and thyme) was the delicious fresh ingredients used to create it.  My companion had the Gamberi Pizza (King Prawn, chilli, cherry tomatoes, rocket and parmesan) which he was equally enamoured with. GB Pizza in Margate make excellent Pizza and are understandably renowned locally, but I have to say based on this visit, Travellers in Italy can give them a run for their money.

I couldn’t manage a whole Pizza, so they very kindly boxed the remaining slice. Here’s hoping it reheats ok, as I’d hate to waste it.

The room looks lovely now, so much warmer looking than its previous incarnation and the staff are both friendly and efficient.

James Thomas the owner of the Royal Harbour Hotel is building a small restaurant empire here in Ramsgate, first with the Empire Room in the basement of the Royal Harbour Hotel, then Little Ships the excellent brasserie overlooking the harbour and now Travellers in Italy. I wonder what’s next.

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The Empire Room at the Royal Harbour Hotel

Tucked away in the basement of the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate you will find the Empire Room restaurant, which captures the essence of an archetypal gentlemens club in the glory days of the British Empire. The restaurant has the look and feel of a special occasion venue but surprisingly with its reasonably priced  set lunch and set dinner you won’t need to spend a fortune to have a lovely meal here.

The Empire Room certainly isn’t your average sea side town hotel dining room. The chef is well known in the area, he is Michelin-trained chef, Craig Mather the former head chef at the highly acclaimed and sadly missed fish restaurant Eddie Gilbert’s (one of his Eddie Gilbert dishes was Jay Rayner’s starter of the year a few years ago – which is praise indeed). Craig has for the past few years also been a Chef lecturer at East Kent College. So after reading about him taking over at the Empire Room Restaurant, we decided to go there for lunch. The set menu option is incredible value for money and we enjoyed some beautifully presented dishes along with a complimentary glass of house wine. The menu is seasonal and the highlight for me was the Fennel and Beetroot marinated Salmon with Potato mousse, a tasty and refreshing dish that was a perfect for the warm summer weather, as was the excellent ice cream served with biscuit crumb.

The restaurant has definitely upped its game since my last visit a few years back and is a great addition to the burgeoning Ramsgate dining scene.

The Empire room is normally accessed directly from its entrance on Nelson Crescent, but the hotel manager kindly let us exit via the hotel itself, which has a cosy lounge, attractive breakfast room and stunning sea views.

If you love the Empire Room you should also try their sister restaurant Little Ships.   It’s in a great spot overlooking Ramsgate Royal Harbour, perfect for people watching, it’s a bit pricier than surrounding restaurants/bars but the portions are generous and the quality of the ingredents make it well worth a visit or two.

UPDATE October 2019 New Head Chef is Ross Barden (ex Sands Hotel, Margate). Craig Mather is now Executive Head Chef and is often seen at the stove in Little Ships .

UPDATE July 2021. Michelin-trained Chef Jack Hancock pops up in The Empire Room with Hearth Restaurant.

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Kyoto Sushi and Grill

The blossoming Ramsgate dining scene has another welcome addition for lovers of Japanese food. It’s the Kyoto Sushi and Grill.

We were a party of five with the majority new to Japanese cuisine, so I ordered for the group to ensure that we were able to try lots of different menu items, indeed we had a veritable feast of Japanese goodies.

We started with some Edamame and two different types of Gyôza (steamed  and  fried) and moved on to the Ika Kaarage, deep fried baby squid with wasabi mayo and lemon grass. This was followed by lots of lovely dishes with the highlights being the beautiful melt in your mouth Tuna Tataki, a tasty Sea Bass dish, a lovely light Prawn Tempura and much to everyone’s surprise the Scallop Sashimi. We also had a Teriyaki dish and a selection of Sushi, our favorite being the Dragon Rolls. All of this accompanied by lovely hot Saki that went down very smoothly. We also had the opportunity to try some Takara Sierra Cold Saki, an American innovation in sake brewing that is only 12% proof.

I have eaten in several Japanese restaurants over the years in Tokyo, New York, Philadelphia and London so am not a complete novice, but I would recommend that you let your waitress guide you as some items on the menu will only be available if the restaurant has managed to source suitable fresh fish. The restaurant also does set lunches and Bento Boxes which are a good introduction to Japanese food.

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Flavours by Kumar

I have been eating regularly at Flavours by Kumar for a while  now and just realised that although it is included it in the No Expert – Where to Eat and Drink in Ramsgate Guide it does not have a more in-depth review in its own right; which it most definitely merits.

The restaurant is tucked away in a side street in Ramsgate (2 Effingham Street). It is in a converted pub that still looks like a pub when you enter, but don’t judge this place by the decor, this is not your average Indian Restaurant. The owner and Head Chef, is Anil Kumar, he is the former Head Chef of the acclaimed Ambrette Restaurant in Margate. He also worked at The Cinnamon Club in London, and in restaurants in Dubai, Jordan and India.

We go for the set lunch which is amazing value. You start with a welcome drink usually a mango juice concoction. Then a small amuse bouche, which is a mouthful of deliciousness. They have a nice selection of starters, the Masala Dosa is a work of Art, and I highly recommend the Squid dish.  Next there is a small complimentary cup of spicy soup. There is also a good few main courses to choose from. We have tried several of them, the highlight for me is the Goan Fish Curry, it is served with rice and warm freshly made naan bread.

The service is good and there is a small selection of  wine.

The restaurant is well regarded, it won a Tiffin Cup award to find the UKs best South Asian Restaurant and has been favourably covered in the national press, see Guardian article which described the food at Flavours by Kumar as some of the tastiest Indian Food in the South East of England and they are so right. If you are in the area, this is a treat not to be missed.

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Weekend at The Albion House Hotel : Ramsgate

Despite the title of this post we were not actually staying at the newly opened Albion House Hotel. Although we did find ourselves spending a substantial part of the Weekend there. We started with Champagne Afternoon Tea on the Saturday and returned the next day for our Sunday Lunch.

The Hotel which is open to non residents is quite lovely, perched up on the East Cliff of Ramsgate. The building has been substantially renovated during its conversion to a luxury boutique hotel, it now combines Regency splendor with lots of innovative modern designer touches courtesy I believe of Fontaine Decorative a local company who source stunning French Furniture and Decorative items.

The Hotel is in preview mode at the moment. The plan is to concentrate on the Town Bar and the Hotel Rooms themselves before they make full use of the Dining room. They also have some exciting plans for the Cellar.

Champagne Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is in the Town Bar.  Sandwiches, Tea and Champagne are served at your table. Cakes are laid out buffet style on the table by the window. It’s very much a case of eating as much as you want, as extra sandwiches are brought out on request. The Earl Grey Tea I ordered was particularly good, it’s from a company called Canton Tea and had a strong Vanilla flavour.

Sunday Lunch

The Sunday Lunch menu is pretty much as expected, a small selection of starters, a couple of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes for the main course with dessert options and/or cheese to complete the meal. Lunch and Dinner are served in the Dining Room located at the front of the Hotel. It’s an attractive room with beautiful large fire places and quite spectacular views of Ramsgate Royal Harbour – an ideal place to watch the sun set.

We ordered the Pork belly, scallops, apple puree & red vein sorrel and Wood pigeon breast with frisse & oak leaf salad. The Wood pigeon was served only slightly pink (so if you like it pink, best to say when ordering). We followed this with some nicely cooked Lime & jerk spiced sea bass, potato cake and samphire accompanied by a rather nice bottle of Albarino – the hotel has some excellent options on their wine list. Then for dessert we had Dark chocolate torte with white chocolate cream and raspberries and Vodka, lemon & lime posset with mixed berry compote, accompanied by a couple of glasses of Dessert Wine.

The Hotel is a real asset to the area and we look forward to returning soon as we still have to work our way through the bar snacks in the lovely Town Bar 😉

UPDATE : June 2015 – Had some decent platters from the Town Bar Menu, a meat and a fish one (see above picture). The menu also included Sliders and Salad options.

UPDATE: August 2015 – They have extended the Town Bar menu, there is now a daily brunch menu from 10:00 – 16:00.

UPDATE: July 2016 – The layout and menu structure has now changed, the Dining room and Town Bar are now called Townleys, a more casual menu is provided.

UPDATE August 2021 – Townleys renamed The Dining Rooms.

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