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Posts Tagged ‘Ramsgate’

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.

 

 

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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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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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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

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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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Puns, I’ve discovered, are rather hard to avoid when writing about fish, so I’ll do my best not to use the most deliberate of gags. We visited this new Ramsgate restaurant on a Friday lunchtime wishing for greatness but anticipating some teething problems at the very least. The warm interior gives a tasteful nod to the sea and has diners seated upon reclaimed church pews whilst they consume the holiest of creatures. Staff display just the right balance of friendliness and professionalism to make you feel comfortable yet reassured. The standard fish and chip menu is an extensive affair and that’s before you’ve even cast an eye over the rather interesting specials page.  All of which came as a surprise to me due to the lack of a working website – page 1 stuff surely? Ordinarily I’d opt for the obvious but decided to plunder the specials instead. I could have cried as I watched plate after plate of fish and chips (£8.00+) teasingly pass by.  What had I done? My neighbours happily taunted me with conversation of perfect batter, amazing chips and just so mushy peas. I was a broken man. The gorgeous bread brightened my spirits a little, a mountain of spicy whitebait (£4.95) almost brought a smile, and would have, had it more of a kick and something to dip it in.  A lemon aioli perhaps? And then a beautiful thing happened: my main course arrived. An epic slab of cod with chorizo and artichoke puree (£14.00) It was superb. I wanted to stand on my chair and celebrate. I’d won the Battle of the Lunches. My adversaries lay slain across my new favourite restaurant, weeping into their ketchup-stained napkins. Who needs batter when the fish is this good? Not me. Well, not today anyway. I’m hooked (sorry).

32 King Street, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8NT, 01843 852123.

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