On our visit to Ramsgate’s newest restaurant (it’s only been open for three weeks at the time of writing this review) executive chef Craig Mather was manning the small Kitchen area and pizza oven left over from Pizza Express, the previous tenants of this landmark building overlooking the Royal Harbour.
Travellers in Italy may be a strange name for a restaurant but I think any travellers to Italy would be more than happy to find somewhere that served Pizza this good. The sourdough base was lovely, but what really stood out to me when I took the first bite of my Tartiflette Pizza (crispy smoked pancetta, slow cooked onions, confit garlic, Jersey Royals, cream, parmesan and thyme) was the delicious fresh ingredients used to create it. My companion had the Gamberi Pizza (King Prawn, chilli, cherry tomatoes, rocket and parmesan) which he was equally enamoured with. GB Pizza in Margate make excellent Pizza and are understandably renowned locally, but I have to say based on this visit, Travellers in Italy can give them a run for their money.
I couldn’t manage a whole Pizza, so they very kindly boxed the remaining slice. Here’s hoping it reheats ok, as I’d hate to waste it.
The room looks lovely now, so much warmer looking than its previous incarnation and the staff are both friendly and efficient.
This makes Ramsgate an ideal place to use as a hub to visit the nearby places of interest (although there’s lots to see and do locally in Ramsgate too). If you’re visiting Ramsgate for a bit longer you may want to go further afield – for example to try one of the four 1 Star Michelin Restaurants within easy reach.
Stark in Broadstairs is only 5 minutes away by Taxi or you can build up an appetite with a leisurely 40 minute coastal walk.
It’s almost time to put up the Christmas decorations!
December is just days away, and there’s already lots of Christmas activities being advertised, so this weekend I’m doing a Christmas swap over for some of the standard No Expert Maps (ones that that apply all year round and cover the locations of Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, Pubs, Shops, Barbers, Salons and Spas). The Maps are now displayed with Christmas themed Icons.
The Christmas Eating & Drinking Map provides links to Christmas Menus and information on Events/Party’s.
The Christmas Shopping Map provides links to information on special Christmas offers.
Christmas Maps can be added to a website or blog in the run up to Christmas and removed after Christmas or included for the duration of special Christmas Events, like these ones :-
The Christmas Maps (and the standard Maps) can be set up to cover quite a large number of businesses/items in a single Map, the Maps zoom facility enables you to select to focus on a specific area of the Map. You can also use the Side Menu option (click on the Side Menu icon in the top left hand corner of the Map) to not only view an index of the Maps contents, but also to switch off/on the layers being displayed.
Tucked away in the basement of the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate you will find the Empire Room restaurant, which captures the essence of an archetypal gentlemens club in the glory days of the British Empire. The restaurant has the look and feel of a special occasion venue but surprisingly with its reasonably priced set lunch and set dinner you won’t need to spend a fortune to have a lovely meal here.
The Empire Room certainly isn’t your average sea side town hotel dining room. The chef is well known in the area, he is Michelin-trained chef, Craig Mather the former head chef at the highly acclaimed and sadly missed fish restaurant Eddie Gilbert’s (one of his Eddie Gilbert dishes was Jay Rayner’s starter of the year a few years ago – which is praise indeed). Craig has for the past few years also been a Chef lecturer at East Kent College. So after reading about him taking over at the Empire Room Restaurant, we decided to go there for lunch. The set menu option is incredible value for money and we enjoyed some beautifully presented dishes along with a complimentary glass of house wine. The menu is seasonal and the highlight for me was the Fennel and Beetroot marinated Salmon with Potato mousse, a tasty and refreshing dish that was a perfect for the warm summer weather, as was the excellent ice cream served with biscuit crumb.
The restaurant has definitely upped its game since my last visit a few years back and is a great addition to the burgeoning Ramsgate dining scene.
The Empire room is normally accessed directly from its entrance on Nelson Crescent, but the hotel manager kindly let us exit via the hotel itself, which has a cosy lounge, attractive breakfast room and stunning sea views.
If you love the Empire Room you should also try their sister restaurant Little Ships. It’s in a great spot overlooking Ramsgate Royal Harbour, perfect for people watching, it’s a bit pricier than surrounding restaurants/bars but the portions are generous and the quality of the ingredents make it well worth a visit or two.
UPDATE October 2019 New Head Chef is Ross Barden (ex Sands Hotel, Margate). Craig Mather is now Executive Head Chef and is often seen at the stove in Little Ships .
UPDATE July 2021. Michelin-trained Chef Jack Hancock pops up in The Empire Room with Hearth Restaurant.
Having a birthday near Christmas is a bit of a pain to say the least. However I have found a sort of solution. Arrange to get treated to lunch at the world famous destination (at least with foodies) that is The Sportsman – the self styled “Grotty pub by the Sea” located in bleak Seasalter on the outskirts of Whitstable. (15 mins by cab from Whitstable train station).
We went for a short stroll along the sea defense path and then down to the stark but photogenic beach to work up our appetite before lunch. Muddy boots and jeans are more at home in The Sportsman than party frocks and stilettos
It cheered me up to see that 10 days before Christmas there was no over the top Christmas tat dominating the room nor were you forced to order from a double the price (because it’s Xmas) boring Turkey and Christmas pud menu.
The Sportsman is a pub, albeit one with a long standing Michelin Star. Locals do pop in for a pint, but on the whole it’s all about the simple, tasty, locally sourced food. The wine list is good too, with a nice selection of reasonably prices bottles and several decent wines by the glass at a fraction of the price you’d pay in London. They are well known for their tasting menus of which they have two, the smaller one that you can order on the day and the eight course one that has to be pre booked. Visits to The Sportsman always have to be planned well in advance (6-8 weeks typically) if you want a table.
We had pre ordered the eight course tasting menu and chose a half bottle of Chablis to accompany the first half of our meal. The simple yet tasty appetizers set the tone and included an interesting eel & egg dish served in the shell. The first course was three Whitstable Oysters beautifully presented in tray of shells, one of the high points of the meal. The second course was also a real treat, consisting of very tasty baked celeriac with stewed Apple and creme fraiche. The third course was The Sportsman‘s signature dish of Slip Sole grilled in seaweed butter. That was followed by Roast Partridge with rosehip syrup and bread sauce and a Braised Brill dish with some beautiful smoked roe sauce. We then ordered a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir to go with the meat course entitled “Sirloin of retired dairy cow with tarragon” – a delicious dish that was surprisingly dominated by a really tasty piece of baked carrot! Vegetables at The Sportsman are always amazing. After a well needed gap, we moved on to dessert. The first dessert was a pear sorbet lolly – a fabulous palette cleanser. Then the star of the show was a heavenly Bramley Apple Soufflé served with salt caramel ice cream.
It’s a real treat to have a such a quality establishment with such good food, excellent service and comfortable ambience on our doorstep.
We were a party of five with the majority new to Japanese cuisine, so I ordered for the group to ensure that we were able to try lots of different menu items, indeed we had a veritable feast of Japanese goodies.
We started with some Edamame and two different types of Gyôza (steamed and fried) and moved on to the Ika Kaarage, deep fried baby squid with wasabi mayo and lemon grass. This was followed by lots of lovely dishes with the highlights being the beautiful melt in your mouth Tuna Tataki, a tasty Sea Bass dish, a lovely light Prawn Tempura and much to everyone’s surprise the Scallop Sashimi. We also had a Teriyaki dish and a selection of Sushi, our favorite being the Dragon Rolls. All of this accompanied by lovely hot Saki that went down very smoothly. We also had the opportunity to try some Takara Sierra Cold Saki, an American innovation in sake brewing that is only 12% proof.
I have eaten in several Japanese restaurants over the years in Tokyo, New York, Philadelphia and London so am not a complete novice, but I would recommend that you let your waitress guide you as some items on the menu will only be available if the restaurant has managed to source suitable fresh fish. The restaurant also does set lunches and Bento Boxes which are a good introduction to Japanese food.