Archive for February, 2010

How hard can it be to cook the perfect portion of chips? Quite, it would seem, or there wouldn’t be such a fuss surrounding the crispy little fellas. Heston suggests triple cooking, Delia does them in the oven, and my Mum will only use Maris Pipers. Few foods impassion or bring out the food thief in us all quite as much as the humble fried potato chip. With all this in mind, and in honour of National Chip Week, I decided to try out four of Thanet’s finest purveyors and create my own Chip Pageant. Who would win the inaugural, coveted and catchy title of Thanet Gannet’s Chip of the Year 2010? It was all to play for as we set off on Saturday lunchtime, minus breakfast, in search of the perfect potato punnet. In quick succession we visited Eddie Gilbert’s (Ramsgate), Peter’s Fish Factory (Margate), Newington Fish Bar and the Fish Inn (Broadstairs). At each we purchased an open portion of chips, salt’n’vinegared and then marked on Crispness, Quality, Fluffiness and Presentation. By 3pm the car reeked of condiments and I’d sworn to never eat another chip. But despite my newfound dislike for the sexy spud I did have some useful research data that revealed a conclusive result. 4th place went to Newington, who unaccountably serve their chips sweating in a polystyrene container. Next up was the Fish Inn, who scored highly on the presentation front and portion size. 2nd was Peter’s, who delivered great all-round chips. But the title goes to Eddie Gilbert’s, whose beef-dripping fried chips scored highly in every category except presentation. Sadly the small chip bag made it awkward to liberally apply condiments, meaning the last few chips were not quite as amazing as they could be. A point dropped then. I guess I’ll just have to keep searching for another year. Perfect.

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Being born just outside of London I’m not used to fields full of animals, fresh air and most certainly not farm shops. The short journey to Quex Barn had all of these things plus a great little restaurant at the end of it. We visited on the Saturday morning after New Year, and as I looked up at the enticing blackboard menu I could see my first resolution, only 24 hours old, already fading from view. The options aren’t vast but include kippers with egg and toast (£4.95), sausage, egg or bacon sandwiches (£3) and most importantly the English breakfast in either large (£5.95) or small (£4.95). I was instantly drawn to the large as it offered almost twice the food for an extra pound. Job done. In return for my hard earned I received 2 sausages, 2 rashers, 2 eggs, black pudding, beans, tomatoes and 2 slices of giant toast. Not the cheapest breakfast in Thanet but certainly among the best. All of the produce was top notch, perfectly cooked and well presented. The black pudding was a bit overdone for my taste and we waited 10 minutes more than I would have liked for its arrival, which, on a positive note, kept my weight loss regime on track for just that little while longer. The coffee was great; the waitresses friendly and the fresh orange juice so good that my wife is still mentioning it a week later. It was a busy mix of seemingly content couples and happy families all munching away whilst bathing in warm natural light. The chickens running past the window even brought a smile from Thanet’s most fickle of diners, Tilly, my 18 month old, is a big fan of our feathered friends and will undoubtedly be adding them to her amusing animal impersonation repertoire in days to come. On our way out we all waddled round the shop purchasing a fresh loaf, some free range eggs and a few other bits that would save us doing battle with the Saturday morning supermarket crowd. I’ll return shortly to try out the evening menu but in the meantime if people sarcastically ask, “Were you born in a barn?” I can answer, “I wish.

Quex Park Estate, Birchington, Kent, CT7 0BB, 01843 846103.

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