It would take me 10 minutes to drive to Ramsgate. 60 more to complete embarkation and finally I’d have to pay handsomely to endure 4 hours on choppy waters. Why would I want to do this? I wouldn’t. Instead I jumped on the Loop, graciously handed over £1.40 and had my legs under a Belgian table in a fraction of the time. As I sat with a glass of Kriek among the hordes of happy Sunday diners I wondered what to do with the 300 minutes, £40 and sick bag that remained unused in my pocket? The time could be, and was, well spent trying more of the 100 or so Belgian beers offered in this remarkable cafe, with mango eventually proving to be the strong favourite in our higgledy-piggledy booth. The money, a quick glance at the intriguing menu suggested, would cover lunch for me and my three companions, so we ordered an assortment of starters from which the pan-fried scallops with chorizo (£6.00) and the squid in polenta flour with aioli (£3.50) won out. Most of us then went for the roasts (chicken, beef, duck, lamb or pork), which were huge, very well cooked and great value (£6.95). As for the bag it could be quickly recycled to carry home the odd roast potato, chicken leg or Yorkshire pud that escaped demolition at lunchtime. The ramshackle setting adds to the whole charming ‘experience’ you have in this Tardis-like venue. Most of the walls herald art for sale of which much, I’d imagine, will remain so for some time. I can’t say that I met a single Belgian in this artist’s grotto but then if the cafes are all this good in Belgium why would you leave? I wouldn’t.
98 Harbour Parade, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8LP, 01843 587925