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Posts Tagged ‘pubs’

At times it can be hard to love Margate. A walk through the High Street will leave you questioning the relationship and a quick spin round Morrison’s will have you preparing your “It’s not you it’s me” speech by the time you’ve paid for your WKD and Mayfair lights. I don’t want to feel like this, it just happens. To reaffirm my passion I make regular visits to the old town, trot along the harbour arm or maybe just noodle around Ron Scott’s for an hour until I’ve remembered what it is that we have together. I’ve often thought how helpful it would be to have a decent pub to sit in whilst I nursed my heart back to full strength. As I stepped over the Lifeboat’s threshold I realised that this might be just that. The orphaned furniture made me think that I’d stumbled back onto Mr Scott’s premises but the roaring open hearth ensured I’d be going nowhere soon. This really is no ordinary boozer. Julian is no ordinary landlord. He is essentially a joyful eccentric who’s made a local all about local. Julian’s utopia hosts beer from every brewery in Kent, stocks 14 varieties of Kentish cider, and even pours local wine courtesy of a vineyard in Barsole. He keeps a handful of interesting soft drinks but definitely no ice. This is a pub for everyone. On our visit we nestled amongst alcoholics, pensioners, artists and students, all of who were treated quite perfectly by the charming barman. He helpfully came over and sat with us to discuss the various local foods on offer that evening. Dressed crab (Fruits de Mer, Broadstairs), pies (Victory News, Broadstairs) sausages  (a secret location in Ramsgate – grilled in a sandwich maker thingy on the bar) and cheeses courtesy of every maker across Kent. You get to choose one from many types of chutney to accompany your snack (which they insist on spooning out to avoid any cross-contamination) and all orders arrive with chunks of bread (Aquini’s, Margate). All are served up at little more than cost price.  On this trip we polished off a dressed crab, a mixed game pie and a sausage in bread. With two rounds of drinks we just about made it past twenty pounds. You’d pay that for the crab with a couple of drinks in most places and that’s without the option of playing Monopoly. It truly is an extraordinary place that will only get busier with the publishing of the excellent Discover Thanet guidebook and the opening of the much-needed Turner Contemporary. With only days remaining I’d suggest you man the Lifeboat while you still can and see for yourself why Tracey Emin famously said; “Julian, I’ll never stop loving you”.

1 Market St, Margate, Kent, CT9 1EU.

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I’m not yet sure what brought my writing to such an abrupt standstill in September but hopefully the next 400 words will help me find out. Could it have been laziness? Well, I catch the 05.54 during the week and just about get home for bath time so it’s not that. Perhaps there’s no time? Not that either. It might be called High Speed but I’m still the daily recipient of almost three hours of opportunity. Then it must be a lack of subjects? I’ve four unwritten reviews waving regularly at me from my MacBook that would vehemently disagree. I clicked open the one titled The Three Mariners and was instantly transported back to the pilgrimage we’d made one Sunday in November. A truly divine experience. The diner’s Holy Trinity of great food, excellent service & good value was bestowed upon the entire congregation ensuring we left as two happy disciples. It seemed only right to make a follow-up visit to ensure relevant preaching. The superb staff and the delightful dining room both greeted us warmly on our return. The lunch menu contained ten starters, eight mains and seven desserts, so if you are of an indecisive nature then this could become your own personal hell. It also only offered up one solitary dish that I wouldn’t have happily ordered and enjoyed (beetroot is the Devil’s work after all.) The remarkable list has an equal balance of fish and meat, champions local produce (the fish is lovingly supplied by Fruits de Mer of Broadstairs) and represents excellent value for money. We patiently spent a good while observing dishes go past and seeking the staff’s advice before we finally dived in. Mrs G loved the blini of gravalax – a stack of salmon on a crumpet-sized blini (£5.50) and I was enamoured with the local skate cheeks in lemon, garlic and parsley (£5.50). Both were perfectly constructed and tasted fantastic. Next up was roast breast of corn-fed chicken with sage & onion stuffing, roast pots and veg (£12.50). There was far too much cabbage on the plate for my wife’s liking and only a few of the other veggies. A small problem that was smothered by the enormous and perfect Yorkshire pudding (50p extra). The honey glazed confit duck was stunning and was complemented perfectly by the sweet red cabbage and mash. The extra Yorkie I’d ordered left little space for manoeuvre but the slight inconvenience was well worth it. By the time our brilliant waitress returned with the dessert selection I’d decided to abstain – a tough decision with seven stunners calling my name from the next room. My beautiful companion picked what would have been my last choice, the passion fruit pavlova with lime ice cream (£5.50), probably worried that I’d have a second wind. Having removed the pattern from the dessert plate we paid the bill, said our ‘thank yous’ and then grabbed a menu. “Why do you want that?’ asked our waitress. ‘I’m writing a review,” I chirped. “I wish we’d have known”. I’ve no idea what more they could have done, aside from cut the food up and put it in our mouths. As we stepped out of the darkness into the sunshine I knew that I had to write. I needed to get to my desk. I started to run. No idea where I was going. It took me 40 days and 40 nights to return but now I’m back. The Thanet Gannet is resurrected. Hallelujah!

2 Church Road, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0QA, 01795 533 633.

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“We’re running low on gas”, quipped Bex as if starring in a low budget horror movie.

A bead of sweat ran down my wrinkled brow. Paul continued the theme happily occupying the back seat oblivious to the evaporating fuel. Bats flapped, owls hooted and we bounced across the Kent countryside aboard the ‘Hairdresser’ (aka my Suzuki Vitara). We were travelling in this boneshaker because Mrs G had taken the family wagon to a baby-shower leaving my newlywed Northern guests and me in a jalopy that only usually sees sunny days at the beach. Being Broadstairs biggest clown (with car) I ’d forgotten where the pub was but luckily my glamorous assistant Bex pulled me from the lion’s mouth with the aid of her magnificent iPhone, shepherding us in with minutes to spare. It’s not my first visit to The Fitzwalter Arms so I knew roughly what to expect. A lovely little pub with a homely dining room on the side. A short menu full of local produce, plus the added thrill of an open fire that drained the damp and chill from the squally August evening. The atmosphere is quite relaxed and the informal yet knowledgeable service put us totally at ease. Bex chose courgette salad with chilli, garlic and a courgette flower fritter (£5.50), Paul tried the smoked mackerel and horseradish on rye bread with apples and beetroot (£7.50) and I went for the red mullet soup with saffron aioli (£6.50). Everybody was happy with his or her choice. I absolutely adored my soup, Bex’s fritter filled the plate and Paul even sung the praises of the Devil’s work (beetroot). The mains were equally as impressive. Love’s not-so-young dream adored their roast free-range chicken leg, chanterelles and thyme (£13.50) and I, under advice, opted for the confit pork belly, crackling and apple sauce (£14.50). What good advice too, as I am now one of the chosen few that have gnawed on the world’s best crackling. Hallelujah! It must also have been around this time that the food Gods decided to pop into the kitchen and tinker with some chocolate and stuff. Now it may have taken them somewhat longer than you’d expect, what with them being deities and all, but when it did eventually arrive my hot chocolate pudding, coffee ice cream and Earl Grey sauce (£6.00) almost moved my mountain. A fitting end to a heavenly meal. We happily paid the bill, bundled into the roofless rattletrap and set off into the foreboding night. The sky was lit with stars, the air chilled with howls and Paul frozen from lack of heater in the back. All the time the far away silhouette of Richborough power station guided us home like a derelict lighthouse. I knew that once alongside it the desperately needed petrol station was only metres away. The little jeep jerked its way along Sandwich road and was running on fumes by the time we eventually passed the monument to more prosperous times. Sadly, the petrol stations were done for the evening, as were we. We coasted, powerless, to a standstill:

“We’ve run completely low on gas”, I informed Bex as I reached into the back for the petrol can. I walked off into the darkness not knowing what lay ahead…

I’ve always said that you should treat every meal as your last and as I stand here now, carving my review into a tree, I’m rather glad that I chose The Fitzwalter Arms for what may have been mine.

The Street, Goodnestone, Kent, CT3 1PJ, 01304 840303.

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