RestaurantsKentSeasalterCT5

survey result

Summary

£106
£££££
5
Exceptional
4
Very Good
4
Very Good
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Pretty much my idea of gastronomic heaven”: Stephen Harris’s “tricky-to-get-to old-looking pub” represents “a friendly and pleasurable approximation of perfection” for its enormous fan club and – as one of the top-5 most commented-on destinations in our annual diners’ poll – is viewed by many as “simply the best pub-orientated restaurant in the UK”. Set out on the salt marshes by the Thames just outside Whitstable, “don’t be fooled by the external décor” (which makes it look like any old seaside pub). Inside, it “still retains its original charm” and its unforced style makes it “a place to return to on a regular basis”. “The local produce mirrors its estuary-side position”, with each “simple but magnificent” component of the five-course menu “representing the best of the locality at that time of year”. “The cooking itself is a revelation” with “prodigious attention to flavour” and the most often-cited offerings including excellent fish, oysters and lamb (including, of course, the signature slip soles). “The wine list reflects the tastes of the Patron who only lists wines that he would choose to drink himself”. “Many pilgrims make the journey but you have to book months in advance”. “A joy to visit before or, preferably, after a bracing walk on the beach” (and with it being “just a short step to their delightful self-catering cabins, what could be more romantic?)”

Summary

£92
 ££££
5
Exceptional
4
Very Good
4
Very Good
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Yes, it is a long drive and the surroundings are simple, but the food makes the journey worthwhile…” – Stephen Harris’s “unpretentious and cherished” estuary-side destination set on the marshes near Whitstable “looks just like an old seaside pub from the outside” but is one of the most famous eateries in the country (and in the top-10 most commented-on destinations outside London in our annual diners’ poll). It can seem “a bizarre location”, but “the situation of the pub is very evocative which helps give the place its charm” and – however you view it – it’s so popular “you must book way ahead to secure a table”. “The decor may be ‘old pub’ but the food is fine dining” with “so much taste on the plate”. Given the locale, “oysters are always a must!” and the signature slip soles are star features on an “interesting” menu whose “fabulous seafood” and salt-marsh lamb showcase the local larder: “excellent ingredients all served with integrity and expertise”. “A superb, generously priced wine list completes a sublime gastronomic experience.” To complete the trip, there’s “nothing better than a good walk on the beach”. Or, alternatively, you can now stay and many of the most enthusiastic reports this year are from those who “chose to stay in one of their wildflower meadow cabins – charming and very comfortable, with everything you need to make yourself a great breakfast (they have little kitchens). Highly recommended”.

Summary

£84
 ££££
5
Exceptional
5
Exceptional
5
Exceptional
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Despite the slightly weatherbeaten exterior, nothing short of perfect!” – Stephen Harris’s famous destination (one of the most commented-on in the UK in our annual diners’ poll) is a “trusty friend” to the many reporters happy to make the trip for a visit. “It’s still at heart an unfussy and relaxed pub, albeit, one that’s first class”, with “amenable” staff who are “informed but informal” in their approach. “Outstanding food” is served “without fuss or frippery” and, for a blow out, “the tasting menu is a true gastronomic experience”. “There’s really creative use of the finest, very fresh local ingredients”, especially local fish and oysters, and a superb wine list, serving some fine classic vintages at very fair prices (“‘I only stock what I would want to drink myself’ says the boss”). The good value of a meal here is often noted: it feels like “the owner is there to give you a good experience and not just take your money”. Top Menu Tips – “Slip soles and the apple meringue dessert” receive a particular shout-out.

Summary

£61
  £££
5
Exceptional
5
Exceptional
5
Exceptional
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“It seems wrong just to call it a pub… it’s so much more”. Stephen Harris’s epic inn – the UK’s best – is “well worth the trip from London” (or beyond), and “is an adventure to reach, along a virtually deserted road and through the salt marshes beside the Thames Estuary near Whitstable”. “The exterior is a bit of a shock: it looks like what it is – a weather-beaten, old building on the coast”. And there’s little hint of anything special from the “shabby chic” interior either; it’s “lovely and casual” but “not plush”; with “an authentic, scrubbed-table pub atmosphere”. But when it comes to the cuisine, “for once the hype is justified”: “it deserves all its plaudits” for the “clever” and “distinctive” but “no-nonsense” food “with a very local touch”. There’s a “fantastic tasting menu which has to be pre-ordered, although they now do a daily tasting option that doesn't need to be pre-ordered”. Or you can just choose from “the most dynamic chalkboard menu ever, regularly updated during service as they sell out of items, but always seemingly with ‘reserve’ to add in”. The fish in particular is “wonderful and fresh” (Top Tips are “local native oysters in season” and “those slip soles. Oh my!”). “Also, there’s no searching for sides (at extra cost) as the course is complete – a refreshing change, and to be applauded”. Service is “sensitive, positive and inclusive” and “first class” in a “low key” kind of way. In fact, through and through, “for such excellence, prices are very reasonable, and the wine prices even more so, thus it’s hardly surprising that even a mid-week, out-of-season lunch needs booking several weeks ahead!”

For 33 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).

Have you eaten at The Sportsman?

Faversham Road, Seasalter, CT5 4BP

Restaurant details

Menu
No dress code
50
10+

The Sportsman Restaurant Diner Reviews

Reviews of The Sportsman Restaurant in CT5, Seasalter by users of Hardens.com. Also see the editors review of The Sportsman restaurant.
Bob B
An outstandingly delicious experience: bril...
Reviewed 7 months, 9 days ago

"An outstandingly delicious experience: brilliant tastes, superb textures, and all in a laid back but perfectly judged atmosphere. Plus an excellent -- and reasonable -- wine list. This must be one of the best restaurants in the country."

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Prices

  Cost Availability Courses
Menu1 80.00 Always available 5
Drinks  
Wine per bottle £25.95
Filter Coffee £3.00
Extras  
Service 10.00%
Faversham Road, Seasalter, CT5 4BP
Opening hours
MondayCLOSED
Tuesday12 pm‑1:45 pm, 6:30 pm‑8:30 pm
Wednesday12 pm‑1:45 pm, 6:30 pm‑8:30 pm
Thursday12 pm‑1:45 pm, 6:30 pm‑8:30 pm
Friday12 pm‑1:45 pm, 6:30 pm‑8:30 pm
Saturday12 pm‑1:45 pm, 6:30 pm‑8:30 pm
Sunday12:30 pm‑2:45 pm9 pm

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