Harden's survey result
“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!”
“From the outside, it really is a scruffy, rundown-looking pub in a bleak landscape” (“with views over fields – the sea is out over the back”), but “it’s worth the long haul to find Stephen Harris’s uninviting-looking old place as it offers inspiring cuisine” that many consider “the best ‘pub’ food in the UK”. “The decor has been tidied up a bit recently, but happily not enough to jeopardise its second most attractive feature: it is unforgettably ordinary! That there’s zero pretension contrasts spectacularly with the peerless kitchen”. “The culinary approach is not fussy or arty but the straightforward route produces something sublime (dab and smear practitioners take note!)”: “simple, unpretentious and fantastically flavoursome” dishes using “good local produce (including lamb)” and with “fish cooking a highlight, as are the oysters, both natives and poached rocks”. “The tasting menu is a real ‘tour de force’” with “every dish spot-on” (you have to order it in advance, but there’s now also a shorter one you can have on the day). “Good wine too at even better prices”. “Everything just seems to work together perfectly”.
“If you want to discover what fine food is all about without the flummery head here!” Stephen Harris’s famous seaside boozer on the marshes near Whitstable “is a surprise, as it looks scruffy, and the view from the back is of caravans and traffic cones”. But “it represents a somewhat magical and cherished escape to discover this remote yet first-class place, characterised by its modestness and very down-to-earth yet dedicated staff”. Key to the experience is the “out-of-this-world” food (from either the à la carte or tasting menu), “unfussily, yet superbly executed using fresh local produce” and its twinned with a wine list which, though less earth-shattering, represents “stunningly good value”. And while it looks “very unprepossessing” outside, the dining room is beautifully “light and airy”. “Fingers crossed they don’t wreck it by expanding the building”. Top Menu Tip – “the best ever homemade bread and butter” and “outstanding slip soles”.
“From the outside you would think you had arrived at a run down pub”, but Stephen Harris’s legendary, if “shabby looking” coastal tavern – “on the North Kent marshes near Whitstable” – is nigh on “the perfect pub”. Few establishments can match its consistency – “they get it spot on, every time, all of the time” – be it the “chilled-out” atmosphere; the utterly “charming” service; or his “inspired”, “honest”, “strongly-flavoured” cooking – most particularly “out-of-this-world fish dishes”. “Go – just go!” Top Menu Tips – “magnificent native oysters” and his “pitch-perfect slip sole with seaweed butter: the most delicious fish dish ever… and he makes his own butter!”
The Sportsman Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Strong overall package, with really high quality ingredients that are simply prepared into a good overall menu. Very friendly and capable service and a good atmosphere by the sea"
|Wine per bottle||£18.95|
Faversham Road, Seasalter, CT5 4BP
Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00-14:00 and 19:00-21:00 and Sunday 12:30-14:45
Last orders: Mon closed, Tue - Sat 9 pm, Sun 2.45 pm