We had already done a bit of research so had our lunch and afternoon tea spots picked out.
Digging the – Allotment Cafe : Now Poppys Kitchen
For lunch we headed for the Allotment Cafe, somewhere you would be lucky to find in passing. It’s tucked away in the back room of a High Street shop. It is a pleasant spot with a wall decorated with foodie goodies and a small outside seating area.
We shared a Mezze and a cheese plater. The food like the Cafe name suggests is very ingredient focused. The Salads were fresh and tasty, the Olives in the Mezze were huge and succulent and the sweet pickle and pear served with the Cheese was a treat. We would definitely recommended this place.
Delighted with the – Keep House Tea Room :CLOSED
With its own little light museum, this new Tea Room opposite Deal Castle is a bit special. The room is modern, stylish, and quirky.
They do a range of Teas and Tisanes (Herbal Infusions), which are served in pretty China cups. It’s a lovely spot for Afternoon Tea, especially on a sunny afternoon with the light streaming in. We had a pot of Peppermint Tea and a piece of their delicious Dutch Apple Cake and Rhubarb and Custard Cake, both of which were delightfully light and moist. There are also several nice extra touches like the tiny almond biscuits and chocolate cake delivered unbidden with the Tea and the packs of Fizzers included in with the bill.
We also popped into the No Name Shop, for some bread and cheese – their Walnut Bread is excellent.
GB Pizza in Margate is a trendy Pizza parlour that focuses on producing quality thin based pizza. It is only a few doors down from Domino Pizza and the contrast could not be more marked. The tables are refectory style but if your lucky you can also grab a window seat with a sea view. We shared a chorizo and chilli pizza which was super hot and absolutely delicious. They also import Gelupo Ice Cream from London, which again reflects their approach to quality. The staff were efficient with a friendly laid back manner. Food is ordered at the counter and delivered to the table.
GB Pizza are going places, more specifically they are opening a branch in Exmouth Market in foodie Clerkenwell in London, where they will fit right in. So they are reversing the ‘DFL – Down from London’ trend to be ‘UFK – Up from Kent’. I really hope they expand within Kent though, I would love to have a local branch – please come to Ramsgate.
The newly opened Empire Room is a majestic and photogenic restaurant located in the basement of the rather lovely Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate. The decor is stunning, it very much achieves the Gentlemans club atmosphere it is seeking to emulate. It screams special occasion venue rather than hotel restaurant. It has a decent wine list and friendly attentive staff. The food is very much in keeping with a hotel restaurant though, it’s all a little too safe for my taste, but it’s new and it will be interesting to see how the menu evolves.
The weather is pretty extreme at the moment around the south coast of England and Seasalter near Whitstable was certainly a bit damp on our visit. The sheep in the marsh lands nearby looked like they were swimming rather than grazing.
The Sportsman which is a 15 minute taxi ride or a one hour plus walk from Whitstable station, was a cosy refuge and the perfect finish to our culinary tour of the area. The tempting offer of a glass of Pol Roger Champagne on arrival was just too good to turn down – our favorite champagne beautifully chilled. It was also good to see that since our last visit they had added a shorter tasting menu, which unlike their normal tasting menu, did not have to be pre ordered. At £45 this Tasting Menu option is excellent value for the caliber of food served here.
We ordered this new Tasting Menu and selected a reasonably priced bottle of Gavi di Gavi Vignetti Lugarara Giustiana 2010 (another personal favorite) to accompany it.
A delicious selection of bread arrived first, quickly followed by an amuse bouche in an eggshell. Then we had two Whitstable Oysters, prepared in two different ways – both were quite lovely, we were off to a good start. Next we had a beautiful looking dish described as Pot Roast Red Cabbage with Stewed Apple and Fresh Cheese. This turned out to be our favorite course, the cabbage was really flavorsome and beautifully enhanced by the apple and cheese. The fish course came next, Roast cod with a really moreish Bouillabaisse and olive tapenade. The previous two courses in particular emphasizing why The Sportsman has a Michelin Star. The meat course came next, a Roast Rack of Lamb with a particularly good mint sauce, leaving us with just enough room for the dessert. The dessert which followed some palette cleansing Ice Lollies was another high point, it consisted of one half of a Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart, served with Tangerine Ice Cream. A lot of Tangerines must have gone into that Ice Cream as the flavour was intense. The sharpness nicely countering the rich salted caramel in the Tart.
After this lovely lunch and fully prepared for the weather (or so we thought), we decided to walk along the beach back to Whitstable. We ended up cutting inland before we got there, as the heavens opened up and we got a little damp to say the least. I would recommend The Sportsman for a special lunch but would suggest avoiding any temptation to walk too far along the beach in the Winter.
It is also well worth allowing yourself some time to explore the rather gentrified seaside town of Whitstable, especially the Harbour area and the unique one off shops on Harbour Street.
While exploring Broadstairs, we spotted a rather run down building with a plaque telling us it was a Chapel build in 1601, only today it looks more like a second hand bookshop, then we spotted a sign advertising coffee and a familiar menu in the window. The menu was identical to The Lifeboat pub we had been so pleased to find in Margate. On entering through the rather uninviting door, we walked past the boxes of Cider and Barrels of real Ale, to speak to the barman. Turns out The Chapel is owned by the same people who run The Lifeboat.
The Chapel has a dual roll – it is now both a pub and a second hand book shop. You can read the books while sipping your Ale, Cider, Wine and Coffee. You can also order some of the interesting pies, puddings and cheeses. There are benches in the main part of the building and in the mezzanine area. There are also two separate rooms with tables and chairs. We only had time for a quick drink, but knowing how good the food is, we will be back.
UPDATE : March 2014, we returned for Cider and Suet Pudding and can confirm that the food at The Chapel is just as good as its sibling The Lifeboat in Margate.
The sun was shining on Boxing Day so it was perfect weather for a coastal walk along the Viking Trail, starting at Ramsgate and finishing in Margate. We had not planned to eat out, but after the 5 mile plus walk we were seriously hungry. When we arrived in Margate we found there were very few places open – ok we could have checked in advance and planned better, but sometimes it’s the unplanned days that work out the best. There were a couple of places that were full of people that we could have gone too, but they looked like the sort of places that were busy because they were open rather than for any other reason, which was why we were saved by The Lifeboat. It is an award winning pub, and I can see why – the food, drink and service were pretty special. We were well looked after by the lady who was literally manning The Lifeboat on her own.
The menu focuses on Pies, Puddings and Cheese, all great accompaniments to the Ale and Cider they specialize in. We tried a Pear Cider (Perry) and a wonderful Spiced Cider from Dudda’s Tun and ordered a Chicken and Bacon suet pudding and a Chicken, Brie and Cranberry Pie, both were served with lovely creamy smooth mash and a tasty gravy. This was perfect food for a wintery day.
The Lifeboat is well worth making a trip to Margate for, I certainly want to try some of the other pies and puddings on the menu.