Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in Kent
Hardens guides have spent 15 years compiling reviews of the best Kent restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 307 restaurants in Kent and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Kent restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Kent Restaurants
. The Sportsman
Fish & seafood restaurant in Seasalter
Faversham Road - CT5
“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!”
. The Fordwich Arms
British, Modern restaurant in Fordwich
King Street - CT2
“Not the easiest place to find in what is apparently Britain’s smallest town” – Dan Smith (ex Clove Club), Tash Norton and Guy Palmer’s venture is barely two years old and “has really hit its stride” as one of the UK’s best dining destinations: “high end, but not poncy”. Picturesquely located on the river, “when you enter it feels initially more like a pub with food, but my goodness you are soon disavowed of that!”. “Every dish is beautifully crafted and presented” – “superbly intelligent combinations, prepared with skill and ambition” – and with “flavours that just hit you”. What’s more “staff are so attentive and polite and seem genuinely to care!”
Fish & seafood restaurant in Folkestone
4-5 Fishmarket - CT19
“Amazing food overlooking the harbour” with “a view to die for!” – Mark Sargeant’s “elegant” waterside venture is nowadays one of the survey’s most popular dining destinations, drawing fans from across Kent and on days out from the capital (“wish we lived closer!”). Particularly prized (as you might expect, given its proximity to the sea) for its “terrific, locally sourced” fish and seafood – it’s “ideal for a special occasion, although it is somewhat pricey”.
restaurant in Broadstairs
1 Oscar Road - CT10
“Utterly triumphant” food “which surprises and delights” again inspires only adulation for Ben & Sophie Crittenden’s tiny converted sandwich shop. “It’s a privilege to see a chef working on the pass on his own – a real feat!” – and with “one person front of house and ten covers”, the overall impression given by this “small, stylish and sexy venue”, which only serves a no-choice tasting menu, is “phenomenal”. Now three years old, it was blessed with a star by the Michelin man in October 2019.
. Wheelers Oyster Bar
Fish & seafood restaurant in Whitstable
8 High Street - CT5
“With its unmissable, pink exterior, the original Wheelers” (est. 1856, and for a time the base of a now-defunct mini-chain) – this “tiny”, “snug” and “eccentric” oddity feels “a little like eating in the back room of a small house, decorated in a ‘domestic style’, with ornaments on the mantelpiece and patterned tablecloths, and with tables a little packed-close”. “But, it has a brilliant professional kitchen out back” and serves “exceptional” fish and “truly excellent seafood” (“so local oysters are a must-have”), while the ability to “BYO makes it very good value”. “You need to book well in advance”, although it’s “easier to get a table now the extension has been built” with the capacity recently doubled to about 30.
. The Empire Room, Royal Harbour Hotel
British, Traditional restaurant in Ramsgate
10-12 Nelson Crescent - CT11
With its “deep red walls, low lighting and candles”, this “romantic” basement dining room has a “lovely, old-fashioned and cosy ambience, and is decorated with framed covers of old editions of Empire magazine”. Craig Mather’s modern British menu focuses on “unfussy dishes, where the local seasonal ingredients are the star”, in particular “fish that comes straight from the small boats which ply the harbour”.
Fish & seafood restaurant in Margate
21 The Parade - CT9
Lee Coad and Charlotte Forsdike’s “homely” two-year-old is proving “a great addition to the local food scene”: “a tiny (so slightly cramped), bright, café-style resto” (26 covers, plus open kitchen) “near the front in the chic part of hipster Margate”. The focus is on fish and “sustainability is at the heart of everything they do”; the end result is food that’s “unussy” but “sublime” alongside service that’s “warm and friendly” (if “at the limits of what’s possible in the space”). “Hard to get into but definitely worth persevering!”
. The Small Holding
British, Modern restaurant in Goudhurst
Ranters Lane, Kilndown - TN17
“The first visit was amazing and I’m looking forward to returning”: Will Devlin’s “interesting tasting menus” (either the five-course ‘1/2-acre’ menu for £30, or the ten-course ‘full acre’ menu for £60) have Kent foodies in raptures, and this small, simple year-old venture (founded in April 2018) is the talk of the county. Part of the appeal are the “very generous wine flights and knowledgeable sommelier” to introduce them.
British, Modern restaurant in Faversham
Macknade Manor, Canterbury Rd - ME13
“High-end dining in a comfortable manor house setting” has been a gastronome’s treat at David and Rona Pitchford’s stylish operation near the north Kent coast for three decades. “The food may seem slightly old-fashioned” these days, but there’s no shame in that – “if you’re a traditionalist, rate quality, and place substance over style, then Read’s will not disappoint”.
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