Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bars’

Some time ago, in a far away dentist’s waiting room, I was flicking through a copy of The Rooters Gazette and happened upon an article examining deliberately-hidden towns and villages across the British Isles. Apparently, back in ye day, we all existed as individual tribes that seldom ventured more than a mile from our birthplaces.  On the upside you were unlikely to be frustrated by tourists asking questions in unfathomable tongues, the downside, however, was the high chance of marrying a relative. The article went on to contend that there were still a handful of Narnia-esque places that don’t exist on modern maps for no good reason other than the inhabitants wishing it that way.  And so it was that on a crisp October morning we were magically transported to Crundale (see, you’d never heard of it had you?). At the heart of this fantastical village was ‘The Compasses Inn’, a perfectly imagined pub that had previously only existed in my dreams. Plenty of local beers, an intelligent and reasonable wine list plus a massive garden for the kids. Smiley face. Having dribbled over our menus for ten minutes we chose a crab cannelloni with bisque & a game terrine with spiced pear chutney (both £6.95). To follow we went for ox-cheek bap with horseradish mayonnaise and dripping chips (£9.95) and kedgeree with smoked haddock fillet, poached duck egg and curry ketchup (£11ish). It was only the devil’s little helper, beetroot, that meant we didn’t order all 25 dishes on offer (should we have had the time or elasticated trousers required). All of our picks were perfectly cooked, balanced and presented. I wept a little. Surely the desserts (apple creme brulee & sticky toffee pudding) couldn’t cut it too? Nobody is that good. Ahem. Step forward Rob Taylor. A whisking, pickling and braising alchemist of the highest order. He’s amazing. He’s invincible. He is the King of Crundale. When you do go and pay your respects all I can tell you is that the village is located on the North Downs, about halfway between Ashford and Canterbury, and is populated by 150 of the most tight-lipped people you’ll ever meet.  

Read Full Post »

So, here are your options: great service, excellent food and good value. Which two are you going to pick? What do you mean you want all three? Bleedin’ moon on a stick, you. This might not be written on the Royal Harbour menu (the grown-up’s one, that is) but they needn’t worry as it’s been beaten into me. I’ve visited on seven or eight occasions and each time one thing gives. I must want to like the place or why else would I keep going back?  Maybe I’m having a dysfunctional relationship with a restaurant? Always making excuses. Maybe it isn’t them, maybe it’s me? Okay, okay, just one more chance then. This week, 12 minutes passed before I forced a member of staff to visit our table. They were rather put-upon that we might want to order drinks / see a menu / be waited upon. We were then informed that today there wasn’t a roast, but paella instead (as luck would have it my 80 year-old mother was only just saying on the way over what a shame it was that restaurants persisted in selling Sunday roasts, on a Sunday, and why didn’t more of them offer traditional Catalan rice dishes instead?). El Bingo! Nonetheless, I persevered. No kids menu? Really? In 2013? That was it. I jumped up, ready to use the diner’s ultimate weapons, but my companions talked me down and I placed them back under the table. I’m kinda glad I did or I would never have met the charming waitress who rode to our aid. She offered up kids’ suggestions. She made mum smile, she kissed it better. She was a Food Samaritan (this awful pun only works if you read it in a Glaswegian accent). Meanwhile the joint jumped to the beat of the resident pianist and our lunches arrived in double-time (an admirable feat, considering how busy they were). The food looked and tasted great (fish & chips, grilled plaice and a crab salad scored the highest). So of course I forgave them, yet again, and with that Parker, the pianist’s guide dog, placed his paws over his eyes, pushed his jaw to the floor and let out an incredulous whine. I like to think he was empathising.

Royal Harbour Parade, East Pier, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8LS, 01843 599059.

 

 

Read Full Post »

17 million pounds spent.  4500 panes of glass fitted.  150,000 annual visitors expected. Finally, the wait is over.  Yep, the Turner Contemporary Café is now open on Friday and Saturday evenings for supper. On arrival at this landmark destination Sarah, my new fave person, lovingly escorted us to our VIP window seats. I’m reliably informed that Turner fell instantly in love with the skies over Margate, and as we watched the sun setting, sipping bubbly and nibbling on home-baked bread, it wasn’t difficult to see why. Stunning. I was initially drawn here by the price: two courses for  £18.50 or three courses for £23.00, including a glass of Prosecco or Fino sherry. Bargain.  For those sums there was never going to be a huge selection on offer, but surprisingly any of the three options per course would have put a smile on my hairy mush. We agreed a divide-and-conquer approach, meaning that only three dishes would escape our delectation.  The ones that didn’t get away were: Kent shellfish bisque  – excellent, great depth of flavour.  Chicken liver parfait with port butter & orange brioche – very good but not quite sweet enough for me (I Iater found out from a real foodie’s review that it was possibly due to poor trimming of the livers). Pancetta-wrapped Guinea fowl with beetroot – splendid, but I thought it a teensy bit dry (Mrs G assures me it was spot on). Sea bass with a fricassee of shellfish and vegetables (courtesy of the lovely Windmill Farm allotments) – excellent despite my being deprived of langoustine, langoustine which happily swam it’s way onto every other sea bass plate (bitter? Moi?). I considered mentioning it but the service was so good that I can only imagine they’d have brought a dozen, peeled them at the table and then gently placed them into my gaping gob. An undoubted pleasure for me but perhaps not for the other diners, so I kept quiet. Blackcurrant fool with shortbread – faultless, with a pistachio-topped biscuit still warm from the oven. Finally, the cheese board presented us with an array of quality cheese served with generous lumps of quince.  As if the whole experience wasn’t splendid enough they’re going to be changing the menu every week. Amazing. Art lovers around the world should be eternally grateful that Turner never visited Margate when this café was open, as he may have been inspired to use his oils for cooking rather than painting.

Turner ContemporaryRendezvous, Margate, Kent CT9 1HG,  01843 233000.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

As I drove happily through Birchington I really had no idea what to expect. That small thrill sped quickly away when the ugly picnic tables, littering the exterior of Minnis Bar, came into view. On arrival I circumnavigated the car park in search of the missing / stolen pay ‘n’ display machine and couldn’t help but contemplate the fate awaiting me? Gulp. Once inside it appeared newly decorated and completely at odds with the outside. Books and covers instantly sprung to mind. It was also very busy for a freezing cold Sunday morning. Impressive. A friendly waitress came over and greeted us with a welcoming smile. Maybe I was wrong.  She then sat us next to the Wall of Chef.  Oh dear. I’ve never seen so many signed photographs of cooks, foodies and other culinary Gods so pointlessly gathered in one place. The Michelin adorned wallpaper must have wept star after star as they endured a relay of employees decant industrial quality jam and marmalade into cheap porcelain. The accompanying toast was great but sadly it had to share a wicker cradle with some frozen butter packs that made us both shudder. The food itself was of average quality and was just about value for money considering the view and the pleasant staff.  Regrettably though I do feel that this youngster will be forever teetering around in Mummy’s heels, no matter how much lippy it applies.

The Parade, Minnis Bay, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9QP, 01843 841844.

Read Full Post »

Where would you go in Thanet this weekend if cash and calories weren’t an issue? I’d head down to Posillipo’s in Broadstairs on Friday evening for chilled beers, a pizza that could flatten a tenor and a large helping of Neapolitan charm. Saturday morning would be spent reading the papers at Peens whilst I made one of Thanet’s finest breakfasts disappear. Magic. Off to Ramsgate around 1ish to try and solve the amazing Eddie Gilbert’s conundrum.  Batter or no batter?  What a dilemma. What a decision. What a place. Still no closer to answering this gastronomic riddle I’d cast off in search of my beloved curry – fat nostrils leading me Margatewards. Everybody has his or her favourite spice girl and mine is The Indian Princess. She’s a little too modern for some and a little too expensive for others but I’ll take her as is.  On Sunday I’d probably treat myself to a lie in but would rise just in time to order lunch at Age and Sons. I’d spend the afternoon grazing on local produce in an informal setting, happily pickling myself on their remarkable wine list. I’ll leave Sunday night free, however, as there are 13 other Thanet restaurants nominated in the 2009 Kent Restaurant awards that could do with my custom. I won’t be able to visit them all in one evening, so maybe you could instead.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »