Guardian finds best eatery in kent, but I was there first! Here is the reblogged spiel and definitely worth a visit.
The self-evidently posh US publication Elite Traveler (ooh, get you) has just awarded the title of best eating-out city in the world to London. Yes, ahead of Paris or New York. Their selection is a bit silly and ludicrously high-end, but it’s a far cry from the days when we were derided for our dining even more than for our dentistry.
- East Coast Dining Room
- 101 Tankerton Road,
- Whitstable, Kent
- CT5 2AJ
- 01227 281180
- Open lunch Wed-Sun, noon-3pm (4pm Sun); dinner Thurs, Fri & Sat, 6.30-9.30pm. Meal with drinks, about £35 a head.
Value for money 8/10
Note they say “London”, though, not the UK. Sorry, but I’m saying it again: with a bunch of notable exceptions, eating out on our sceptred isle is still something of a lottery, one where the winning numbers are 3663. Doesn’t mean anything to you? That’s because it’s a restaurant biz grubby little secret, a massive “foodservices” company that, with its cohort, Brakes, is likely to be responsible for the “BBQ pulled pork with jalapeño peppers”, “lamb rogan josh” or “sticky toffee pudding” that turn up on our plates in restaurants the length of the country and that you might have fondly imagined were made on the premises. Yes, their vans criss-cross the capital, too, but at least big city dwellers have the luxury of choice.
Look at their websites, spouting stuff such as “all the beautiful dishes that your customers will love, but unfortunately take hours to prepare and cook properly”. (That’s from the Pub Food Company, by the way.) The Three Mariners at Oare and the Anchor in Faversham, both run by Claire Houlihan with her partner, the Average White Band‘s Hamish Stuart, both did it properly, without recourse to this kind of cheating. This new baby in Tankerton is their first actual restaurant as opposed to pub – and another shining example of how to do things right.
I’m not going to pretend the East Coast Dining Room offers anything groundbreaking – you’ll not find molecular pyrotechnics or much that’s gaspworthy. Few are going to wax poetic about soup, but in chef Ryan Smith’s hands (he’s ex-the Sportsman in Seasalter, a top CV entry, and has followed Claire from the Anchor), this simple pleasure transforms into something luxurious: emerald spring peas with homemade smoky bacon and parmesan straws, maybe; or spiced butternut squash with shortcakes of roquefort.
This sense of getting the most out of fine ingredients pervades the menu. Fat quails crammed into casseroles with good red wine and aromatics, then pot-roasted; salt cod whipped into fried buñuelos (they call them “balls”; no fancy-schmancy stuff here) with a fiercely garlicky aïoli. There’s a sloppy-looking plate of burrata and aubergine puree, but the flavours are pure: blasts of rosemary and sweet cream.
There are roasts on Sunday, and pearly slabs of local fish. It’s not flawless by any means – rock-hard “pavlova” and dreary kedgeree – but the heart is there. Even the stupidly good-value set lunch doesn’t stint on the produce: a duck’s egg oozes its rich yolk over a chard-crowned rösti, and the blobs of sauce are garlic and truffle. All the breads, puddings and ice-creams (the raspberry vodka is sharp and lush) are made in-house. And the short wine list is a belter – a lovely, fragrant Trimbach pinot gris, for instance, with an ungreedy markup.
The East Coast Dining Room is a plain little place, a white-painted shopfront with fashionable, battleship-grey interior and quirky textiles on modernist chairs. But it doesn’t need to drag itself up in anything too try-hard: its audience is happy with the good cooking and genuine welcome. This is the kind of place where customers become regulars and then friends. It has that rare quality: integrity.
Tankerton may be a funny, off-piste little place, satellite to groovier Whitstable, but it’s also home to the redoutable Jo-Jo’s, a joint that will always have a place in my heart for charging a higher corkage for wine from Tesco. Tiny town, two restaurants worth travelling for, not a pre-portioned ham hock terrine in sight – take that, all you bastards who flog us mass-produced platefuls as if they were homemade.
• East Coast Dining Room, 101 Tankerton Road, Whitstable, Kent, 01227 281180. Open lunch Wed-Sun, noon-3pm (4pm Sun); dinner Thurs, Fri & Sat, 6.30-9.30pm. Meal with drinks, about £35 a head.
Value for money 8/10