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Posts Tagged ‘Broadstairs’

I like ceviche. It’s a great dish. So, well done Peru, I salute you. A week in the Amazon, however, had offered me very little to congratulate them on other than their remarkable embracement of blandness. The nadir of this being corn juice (yes it exists) ladled from a grotty bucket by a grinning coffee farmer. Yum. Thankfully my view, my family and my menu were now confirming just how happy I was to be home again. Phew. For five months now Wyatt & Jones have been making us smile, repeatedly dishing up exemplary local produce to the discerning inhabitants of Thanet’s Nappy Valley. When you’ve got a location as good as this you really don’t have to try very hard. The lovely people at Wyatt & Jones couldn’t try any harder. Everything has been thought of and actioned with aplomb. They’ve got one of those effortless interiors that take a lot of effort. The staff are impeccably trained to know the menu and to always be one step ahead. Nothing is ever a problem. The cooking is accomplished, solid and guaranteed to please even the toughest of Peruvian diners. They even bake their own bread, crumpets and muffins. Ooooh! On this visit ten of us occupied one of the few tables I’d not tried during this brief yet enduring romance. The stars of the event were a ray wing (£14), the rump steak (£12), my mixed grill (£17) and the fishcake (£10). The kids menu was, as ever, varied and considered. They don’t tolerate children here, they embrace them so you don’t feel awkward when they act like…children. Breakfast, lunch or dinner in the hands of these lovely restauranteurs always makes life that little bit better. I like Wyatt & Jones. It’s a great place. So, well done guys, I salute you too.

23-27 Harbour Street, Broadstairs, Kent, CT10 1EU, 01843 865126.

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Oh! I do like to eat beside the seaside, and with the summer months now upon us I can do it regularly. How better to start the weekend than with a relaxing morning alongside some calming water? The stresses of the past week just float away. With a brisk walk under my creaking belt it’s exactly the right time to order a bacon sarnie, sit down with a paper and (admire) the world going about its business. The only work I have to do is decide where I’m going to tuck in. With so much excellent coastline and an abundance of cafes and kiosks this is always a pleasant dilemma. For the purpose of this article I decided to visit four untried bacon peddlers. The first stop for me and my guinea pigs was Derek’s at Louisa Bay. Being closest to Chez Gannet I’d made a few coffee stops in the past but hadn’t chosen to order any food until now. Two bacon sandwiches later and Mrs. G, the Monkey and I were feeling rather content. This would be tough to beat. Thick white bread, good butter coverage, decent quality bacon, proper ketchup and a nice location. Next week it was the Jet ski Café in Margate. It’s the biggest, newest and liveliest of them all, offering the most varied menu. No use to me though, as I’m only here for the bacon, which, I’m sorry to say, tasted of onions and was a tad too greasy. Mrs. G’s was onion-free so I guess it was just a bit of bad luck. It also felt a little odd sitting in a car park eating my breakfast. The third week involved a trip to Saddle Sore at Pegwell. I’ve always wanted to stop here, so expectations were high. It was ok but didn’t quite stack up to its forerunners. I did, however, notice some great looking chips that will be enjoyed at a later date. Monkey loved driving the toy vehicles dotted around and was rather tearful when our departure curtailed her joyriding. The month of bacon was brought to a close by a trip to Westgate. We intended to visit Pav’s but it was so ridiculously busy that we jumped ship and went next door to St Mildred’s Cafe The bacon was plentiful and well cooked. The bread was okay but certainly not up to the high standard of Derek’s. There are still many places I need to try out but based on these excursions Louisa Bay will be the place you’re most likely to find me pawing through ketchup-covered supplements with a satisfied smile on my face. Oh! I do like to eat beside the sea.

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Since the early 70’s I’ve been coming to Thanet for days out, weekends and the occasional half term. I caught my first fish, Eric, in Ramsgate harbour. Smiled as my photo was taken with a smelly monkey on Margate promenade and more often than not sat in the sea wearing nothing but my pants and a thick coating of cream. During those 35 years I’ve also enjoyed Morelli’s on a regular basis and have surely devoured just as many flavours. Amazingly though it was only on Saturday afternoon that I finally got round to trying their Mint Choc Chip. I think it’s because my mum bought MCC on a regular basis and as such I was always keen to try something different when given the option. Even this first encounter wasn’t planned as I’d opted for a scoop of Honeycomb and a scoop of Rhubarb and Custard in a tub (£2.60). It was only in an attempt at silencing my friend’s son, who repeatedly told me his was better than mine, that I even put a spoon near it. He was right though. It is one of the finest things I’ve ever tasted, ice cream nirvana even. I can now spend my Sundays gardening or putting up shelves, as men of a certain age should. Great. So if it took me this long to find mine then it’s probably best you start right away and don’t worry they have a good selection even in winter. If, however, you are insane and ice cream isn’t your thing then the coffee is excellent, the teacakes enormous and the 50’s interior alone makes it worth a visit. And please, if you ever find yourself moaning about how good things used to be, then get yourself down to Morelli’s where they still are.

14 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, Kent, CT10 1QS, 01843 862500.

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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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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.

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Oscar Road

I hate to talk about weather as it’s just sooo English but sometimes nothing else quite does the job. What happened to summer? Why is the sun still out with only 75 eating days till Christmas? Where’s the misery we love so much? Well?? I only ask as I’ve just had two weeks off and have counted this as my summer break despite the fact that it was October. Another great English tradition is that of remembering holidays over-fondly. Rose tinted fortnights; we’ve all had them. I’m sure this condition develops over time so I’m committing to paper now so no future accusations can be packed off in my direction. I walked into Oscar Road Cafe on day 5 of my  leave and thereafter the subsequent days have gone from my memory. It was an amazingly sunny afternoon when I first placed my flip-flopped foot in their tiny, almost secret, garden.  6 tables, 15 chairs and 1 big smiley sun. I could have been anywhere in the world but I was lucky enough to be in Broadstairs. I’d admired various cakes and sweet treats en route outside but I was here for one thing and nothing was going to distract me from my goal. The Oscar Road lobster roll is a thing of legend. It is also, I found out, a thing of great beauty. I’d intended to take a photo for this review but once it was put in front of me I could think of nothing else but eating it. It came with a handful of top quality crisps and a small salad bathing in just the right amount of dressing. The roll itself spilled quality lobster meat from every possible point. It tasted perfect. An exquisite texture coupled with an immense flavour. You’ll get little change from a tenner, but with the exchange rate so bad why not join me next year for a fortnight in the garden at Oscar Road. We can talk about the weather.

15 Oscar Road, Broadstairs, Kent, CT10 1QJ, 01843 872442.

I just couldn't wait

I just couldn’t wait

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If I had a restaurant I’ve no idea what I’d call it.  I’d spend weeks pondering puns, metaphors and alliteration to eventually end up naming it The Restaurant. I think this must be what these guys did, hopefully saving their creativity for the kitchen instead.  So last week i decided to go along and try out one of Broadstairs latest openings. Restaurant 54 promises a great deal from the outset. It’s website quotes Shaw and professes to offer up “the freshest of local ingredients, brought together with a creative twist”. I’d certainly agree with the latter but i sadly found few examples of local produce being used in the two courses i undertook.  This is a real shame as provenance and food miles are the current food buzz words and to not make the most of this seems somewhat short-sighted. Surely we could consume Kent crab and pork rather than that of Cornwall and Devon and remain happy patrons? The dishes i ate were of a very good standard and I particularly enjoyed the homemade spiced piccalilli that accompanied my potted Devon pork. The batter on my rather posh fish and chips was worthy of high praise and clung to the prawn, scallop, haddock and monkfish admirably. My dining companions, on the whole, had an enjoyable meal but there were a few niggles that I’d like to see ironed out. Firstly the music. I find music in restaurants annoying at the best of times. I was also under the belief that all traces of Level 42 had been burnt by one of the previous Labour governments. It would appear, however, that a solitary CD survived and is alive, well and tormenting diners in Broadstairs. i think you know what to do with it. Next up is the front of house that I found a bit cold, slow and at times jobsworthy (although they did manage to deal with all of our off-piste requests). I was also a little let down by the crab which was presented badly but tasted excellent, a side salad that was no more than a few leaves and the rather paltry portion of sea bass. My biggest issue though, is the price. I don’t think that the food is over priced as what I ate was worth the money i paid for it, but i do worry about the future of their business,  £15-20 for a main is a little on the lumpy side for Broadstairs and maybe the lack of customers on a Saturday lunchtime in a summer of recession helped to prove my point. They do, to be fair, offer a very good value set lunch menu and i do genuinely hope they decide to address these issues as they have the makings of a decent restaurant, and as Shaw himself said ” If there was nothing wrong in the world there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.” So, sadly it’s 54 out of 100. For now.

54 Albion St, Broadstairs, Kent, 01843 867150.

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