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Archive for June, 2010

On leaving Deal’s rather swanky swimming pool, complete with wave machine, we opted to make the most of the rare English sunshine and drove a few miles out of our way to lunch by the sea at the Zetland Arms.  It proved, thankfully, to be one of my better ideas. This hidden away Kingsdown pub takes a bit of hunting down and maybe even an embarrassing phone call, but once there you’ll be chuffed you went. We dropped in on a Friday and stumbled upon a mix of friendly locals, walkers and cyclists. The menu is quite short, well priced and contains the sort of thing you’d expect in a pub. We ordered some drinks, plonked ourselves on one of the picnic tables next the sea and considered the menu in the windy heat. To start we chose the whitebait (£4.95), which arrived stacked high against a pot of magnificent tartare sauce and the Perard recipe fish soup (£4.95) that tasted better than many I’d encountered across the water. We both went for fish, chips and mushy peas (£9.95) thereby removing the possibility of lunch envy creeping in – a frequent problem in the Gannet household. Everything on the plate was of a gratifying quality. The only minor irritant was the slightly too weighty batter but this was more than countered by the ‘holiday’ chips that arrived with it. Superb. The four young chaps that appeared to be running the place were doing a grand job and nothing was too much trouble. I’ll be tackling one of the doorstep sandwiches (£3.25) when we return, which proved so popular with our beach companions, and may even try out the natural wave machine beside our table so I can I work up an appetite for a dessert too.

Wellington Parade, Kingsdown, Kent, CT14 8AF, 01304 364888.

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Some things are sacred in the Gannet household, like Chinese takeaway on a Friday evening and Branston pickle on our cheese sarnies. One fundamental food law is that an Indian meal begins with poppadums and chutneys: it whets the appetite and it carries with it the delicious anticipation of the meal to come. At Margate’s Ambrette we had no poppodums. It bears repeating: NO POPPODUMS! This startling omission marred what was otherwise a positive experience. Having had a mention in the Michelin Guide it was our opinion that this establishment is unlikely to progress to a coveted star in the near future, particularly not in the current premises, which are a little shabby. Service was fine, we were served a complimentary glass of sparkling lychee cocktail on arrival and the meal was punctuated (perhaps too frequently) by small ‘taster’ plates (for example, a sweetcorn pattie and a cup of tomato and lentil soup). The menu itself focuses on excellent quality, locally-sourced meat and fish, cooked South Indian-style. We saw very little on the menu for vegetarians, unless perhaps they were catered for on request. Our starters of pork ribs and grilled tiger prawns were tasty, although we expected the spicing to offer slightly more of a punch. Mrs Gannet’s chicken breast was a generous portion in a delicious massala-style sauce, served with raita, a chickpea dhal, rice and nan bread. I enjoyed a beautiful lamb shank, again with accompaniments and a freshly cooked roti. We had no room for desserts, tempting though they looked. You do pay a little extra for your meal here, but if you can cope with an Indian meal without poppodums, this Jewel in Margate’s Crown is well worth a visit.

44 King Street, Margate, Kent, CT9 1QE, 01843 231504.

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It seemed wholly appropriate, with the World Cup only weeks away, to stage a potato penalty shoot-out in our very own Stadium of Cookery. Admittedly it was somewhat different than the usual English pratfall and I doubt FIFA will be adopting it anytime soon but it suits the purpose of this article and thus it will be so. Each player, of which there are five, will have two perfectly cooked new potatoes placed in front of them. One Jersey Royal and one of Thanet’s finest (courtesy of Farmer Richard Ash). Now, as great as these little orbs are they need some help so we’ve added a slice of quiche and a lightly dressed salad to complete an enticing summertime tea. First up to the table is Father-in-law. He’s somewhat picky so a good lead off man to set the tone. He much prefers Thanet. 1-0. Our next player is Mrs Gannet. She’s a new potato aficionado and probably the most experienced player on the team. On balance she opts for Jersey. 1-1. Third to tuck in is Mother-in-law (no jokes please, she’s lovely). She likes the nutty taste and goes for Jersey too. 1-2. I’m next up with the cutlery. Mrs G serves so I don’t know which is which. I’m surprised by how much I like them, as I’m not normally a fan. I pick Thanet for its satisfying finish, which ties it all up. As in all good penalty shoot-outs there needs to be a fifth and that honour falls to new potato newbie Tilly – my two year old. Diners don’t get more fickle than this. She pushes them both round the plate for a few minutes and then leaves. Hmm. So for the first time ever we’ve got a penalty shoot out draw. Guess you’ll have to make up your own minds but please do your best to get behind our team this summer.

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If I said ‘Persian’ what would you think of? Cats? Rugs? Food? I always think of food so it’s no surprise that I was pondering what would be on offer long before I arrived at Patogh. I imagined plate after plate of dried fruits, nuts and sweetmeats. I was mercifully wrong. I would list the names of the dishes we ate but sadly I didn’t write them down, assuming I’d be able to crib them later from their website. That was a mistake we could both learn from. To kick off we had a meze of starters containing meatballs, a Persian version of Russian salad, feta with olives and an aubergine with whey dish (£8.95 for two). These were accompanied by pitta bread. All were good and complimented each other nicely. The bread was a bit of a let down as I’d anticipated something a little more adventurous than pitta. For our main we ordered the selection of grilled meats. This came with some excellent saffron rice topped with a superior sticky sauce that oozed pistachios and orange (£28.00 for two). We didn’t really have room for any dessert but I can’t resist baklava when it’s offered, so I managed to squeeze in a small plateful. The service was spot on. Every dish looked beautiful and you could taste the care and attention that had gone into our food. I’ve no idea how authentic any of it was but by the time the last flake of Baklava crossed my lips I couldn’t have cared one little bit. My only concern, the fact that they also serve an English menu, was quickly eradicated when I spotted two steaks arrive at the adjacent table. The lucky recipients couldn’t praise it highly enough, whilst I gave out a happy sigh of relief. So if somebody says ‘Persian’ to me now all I’ll think is, “When?”

2 Effingham Street, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 9AT, 01843 852 631.

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