However unlike the Foliage and Parc des Eaux Vives which also closed this year. Harveys closure was deserved. We can only hope that this prime spot on the harbour does not stay closed for too long.
We have also been cheeky using the tag line “Gone for a Burton” – a play on the celebrity chef John Burton Race’s name. Isle One got in first with that one, but since they seem to have used one of our photographs without crediting us (tut….tut) it seemed only fair that we copy their tag line.
UPDATE – November 2010
Harveys has now been replaced by Jacks (The Cantina on the Marina) . I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Why the council gave the go ahead to deface this building situated in a prime location on a Victorian Harbour is beyond me. This really is in bad taste and we haven’t even tried the food yet!
UPDATE May 2011 – The “Orange Blot” that was Jacks is gone, the building now has a new more suitable paint job. Wonder who will move into this prime spot next? It would be a great location for Eddie Gilberts if they were thinking of expanding.
We ordered the fixed price ‘grazing menu’, (which had a very limited fish selection) 2 courses for £12 (this certainly sounded like a bargain), and a couple of glasses of pretty good wine. We also ordered a portion of their own baked bread which was okay. The starters arrived. Things were looking up as the presentation appeared to be not too bad. My salmon and beetroot with micro greens actually had flavour. Unbalanced but flavour none the less. My companion went for the butternut squash risotto. It also looked good but turned out to be completely lacking in flavour, basically just stodge ….oh dear as we were ready to amend our opinion and eat humble pie.
My main course arrived. Apparently this was a ‘belly of pork’. Well it was like no cut of meat I had ever seen. It looked more like a cross section of spinal column (more cartilage than belly!). Only one word came to mind during this course and that I’m afraid was ‘Repulsive’.
My companions Plaice looked like it had been bitten by a Shark!. It was also over cooked.
When asked if we wanted dessert or coffee we decided to pass and left the restaurant as hungry as we went in.
Instead we had pancakes at Miles Cafe Culture – a genuinely buzzy and quality establishment.
Our visit to Harveys was on a Saturday at lunchtime, only two other tables were occupied, so for ambience we had some background music and a baby crying in the corner. We were also a bit surprised that the fish slab was not in use, to let us see what fresh fish was on offer.
We passed by again in the evening, on the way to Age & Sons, and noticed that the restaurant was barely half full. Which was interesting when compared to the completely full Age & Sons, which attracts exactly the type of clientel that Harveys are trying to target.
How the AA could award Harveys with “The only AA Rosette in Thanet” is beyond me. There are more deserving restaurants in Thanet, such as Age & Sons. It was also disconcerting to read the description of Harveys in toptable, it used words like “steller seafood” and intimated that Celebrity Chef John Burton Race was involved in the cooking. I am pretty sure he is not.
After two visits now, our conclusion was that Harveys would be an ideal candidate for another Celebrity Chefs TV show – Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
It’s great that so much money has been invested in Ramsgate, which does really need a good fish restaurant. We just don’t feel the investment has been made in the kitchen where it really counts. It’s also good to know we are not alone in our views, as I have spotted a couple of reviews now that use words like “Dire” to describe the food in Harveys. So unless there are some major changes here, Harveys can relax as we won’t be reviewing them again.
No Expert has just hit the 100th post mark, so for that milestone rather than single out a restaurant, this post focuses on an issue that impacted on a number of our restaurant choices and that is can we trust Michelin Star and AA Rosette ratings alone.
I know there is a lot of debate over how accurate the Michelin star rating system is. I believe we have been to enough Michelin starred restaurants to give an opinion on the subject. Basically the problems seem to be inconsistency and big name restaurants hanging on to stars they no longer merit. The Michelin star rating seems to be about as reliable as the S.Pellegrino World’sBestRestaurants list, i.e., not reliable at all.
The rating system definition for Michelin stars is:-
1 star – A very good restaurant in its category
2 stars – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
3 stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
We have been to some 3 star and 2 star Michelin restaurants that are not in the same class as 1 star restaurants. Compare Tom Aikens to The Waterside Inn for example.
The 5 AA Rosettes award however does seem to match our tastes. The ones on the list in England for example are among our all time favorite restaurants.
The rating system definition for 5 AA Rosettes :-
The supreme accolade awarded only when the cooking is at the pinnacle of achievement. Flavours, combinations and textures show a faultless sense of balance, giving each dish an extra dimension.
The rating system definition for 4 AA Rosettes :-
At this level, not only should all technical skills be exemplary, but there should also be daring ideas, and they must work. There is no room for disappointment. Flavours should be accurate and vibrant.
Then just when I thought I could maybe rely on the AA Rosettes I find out that one of our worst of the worst restaurants Harveys of Ramsgate has just been awarded one AA Rosette, and that another of our least favorite places Abode in Canterbury has 2.
The rating system definition for 1 AA Rosette :-
Chefs should display a mastery of basic techniques and be able to produce dishes of sound quality and clarity of flavours, using good, fresh ingredients.
The rating system definition for 2 AA Rosettes :-
Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level
Our experience of Harveys of Ramsgate and Abode indicated that they were sadly lacking in several of the areas associated with the definitions.
It is also worth trying one of the restaurants deals first, e.g., a pre-theatre or set lunch deal. It is surprising just how many of the top restaurants do offer less expensive options. The toptable web site is a good place to start to find these deals.
Harveys of Ramsgate, part of Kent Inns of Distinction, is marketed as a dedicated seafood restaurant using locally landed fish. A fabulous idea, in theory.
Celebrity TV chef John Burton-Race of the Michelin-starred New Angel in Dartmouth is connected with it, loosely I hope, based on the standards achieved here, both in terms off food and service.
I can not see this place, surviving the winter. I certainly will not be returning or recommending this unjustifiably overpriced venue. Neither the food quality or the level of service matched the look of the venue. Bland Fish, and one of the worst deserts I have ever had (hard meringue!). Plates passed across my companion at the table, come on – anywhere that typically charges £20 for mains, needs to deliver something a bit special. Then there is the ambience issue, sitting next to a large noisy table of 10 in a half empty restaurant is far from ideal. This is most definitely not my idea of “fine dining”.
Its pretension without the quality, delivering expensive badly cooked food. Just another “Faux Gourmet” experience.