Thursday, 22 November 2012
Foodie breaks: Kent – Whitstable
During our recent weekend in Kent we visited Whitstable twice. Firstly on the Saturday – cool and dreary, there seemed to be too many shops selling gifts or fancy children's ware and the town looked too cute for its own good. Nevertheless, we spent an enjoyable hour or so in a cosy café and managed to get a booking at Wheeler's Oyster Bar for the following day. This was my first time in Whitstable in more than 15 years and a lot has changed – it's fashionable now and knows it.
When we returned on the Sunday in vibrant sunshine it was quite different. Clutching a half-bottle of Sancerre from the off-licence across the road, we went straight to (unlicensed) Wheelers for an extravaganza of top-notch fish and seafood which we enjoyed perched on stools at the counter in the shop. Booking a table in the tiny rear dining room that seats 16 requires serious forward-planning (or a hefty dose of good luck). However, we were happy people watching in the front, witnessing a stream of smiling customers leaving with their delicious purchases, which has probably been the case since 1856 when Wheeler's was established.
From chef Mark Stubbs's menu, we chose several small plates including crab cake and other inspired and beautifully executed dishes such as smoked haddock with kedgeree scotch egg, scallops with pork and apple, and Thai style soup with prawn tempura. Imaginative touches included the blue cheese croutons in the salad that accompanied the crab cake and the drizzle of apple sauce.
We didn't have space for any of the desserts but I have included a picture of the menu here as it looked so interesting. Next time.
After lunch we strolled around Whitstable in the sunshine where so many people were making the most of the good weather. If we hadn't eaten earlier, we'd have been spoiled for choice. We left feeling reassured that Whitstable hadn't lost too much of its saline windswept charm.