Live like a local.
4 special places to try! We arrived in Whitstable, after being locked down for 4 months. We realized as things slowly start up, and as the new normal emerges, things will be different. Often awkward. i.e. servers leaning over with a tray handing things to you to keep their distance. You order a bottle of wine and they hand it to you, to pour your own. Where once you felt like you were the Queen of England being served, now you’re no more special than a toddler that can pour his own cool aid. Avoiding the servers and other patrons is now more of a dance where both parties are wearing wide imaginary tutus, just trying not to touch the other person’s tulle. Apologies are not needed, we all understand the reasons for this new cold, formal stance. It’s like overnight, everyone got a case of cooties. It’s not the only change. You can no longer “wing it” and hope to find a great dinner place to eat. Just think about that. 50% of the places are still closed, possibly permanently. The remaining 50% that are open, quite a few are not what we would want (cigarette smoke everywhere, food choices not speaking to us etc) so that leaves us with few restaurants with which to choose. Restaurants can seat 25% of the available seating, limiting the ability to seat you even more. Reservations are no longer recommended; reservations are a must. Spontaneity is a thing of the past.
A friend recommended a local restaurant called Samphire. I didn’t realize Samphire is a type of seagrass that people can eat. It was compared to asparagus. We bought some from a farm stand but didn’t know we were supposed to soak off all the salt, needless to say, it was SO salty I am not a good judge if it is something I'd recommend eating willingly. For dinner, I ordered Skate fish. I’ve never heard of Skate and other than saying it was a simple, fresh, white fish the oddest thing about it was the strips it naturally came in. You’d softly curl off the meat from the delicate bones (Both sides had meat), but they weren’t the kind of bones that would become troublesome, it was just, well it was good, try it. David had fish pie topped with your traditional mashed potatoes. I think he was brought to a warm fuzzy place. For me to highly rate a restaurant, I need the food and the service to equally be impressive. We really enjoyed our waitress… She had energy that would bring people out of themselves and the restaurant was full of life. Regulars were there with almost an heir of a reunion. It was a casual beachy vibe, a bit pricier than expected, but we had a wonderful night.
In the morning we stumbled upon a true treasure. It’s called Tea & Time. We were the first customers of the day and a cheerful woman greeted us. We were vocalizing, to one another, what we wanted to eat, searching for it on the menu, realizing we haven’t become true brits because we didn’t want the English breakfast. She overheard our conversation and jumped in enthusiastically, “just tell me what you want, and how you want it, and I’ll make it” We couldn’t believe, or wouldn’t believe we were hearing this correctly but she was so insistent we told her what we had a hunkering for, and out came the most delicious breakfast sandwich. Actually. It was better than we were describing because the bread was so fresh and tasty, the eggs were clearly farm fresh and perfectly cooked, and it was all deliciously messy. We then topped it off with 2 coffees and we couldn’t have been happier. The entire restaurant has a vibe that you want to somehow bottle and take home. It’s homey, in a good way. It’s casual, in a good way. It’s large enough that during covid you can keep your distance (And yes she took names /#’s for track n trace). As we were leaving we were chatting it up with the amazingly friendly woman that took our order. Come to find out, for the last 22 years, she is the owner of this wonderful establishment. If looking for a home feel where you want to eat a delicious meal and curl up with a book, your stay would be incomplete if you didn’t visit for a nibble before leaving Whitstable.
Our second morning we found Farm & Harper, a more traditional restaurant of sorts. We had to catch a train and so we were on a tight time schedule. We showed up at the restaurant with our eyes bugged out at the closed sign, but thankfully the waiter popped his head outside, recognizing our non-caffeinated state, and offered to make us coffee’s for take away and suggested we return in 15 mins. We were grateful and enjoyed our coffee as we walked up and down the charming town streets.
We found the café small and intimate, recognizing proper social distancing and taking our name/number for track n trace protocols. I would describe this restaurant as a Gastro Café in every sense of the definition… the menu wasn’t large, but it didn’t need to be because it covered a range of unique flavors and we were WOWED by the explosion of taste. Very upscale in its concoction and I’d recommend this for anyone that might consider themselves a foodie. Price was well within acceptable. Food couldn’t be fresher, i.e. egg yolks were dark yellow and rich, avocado was perfectly ripe, and the beans were homemade with bold flavor, etc.
Ship Centurion was recommended to us by a couple we met on our bike ride. It's a truly authentic village pub. Roland's parents had bought it some 30 years ago and he took it over when they passed. I hadn't had anything to eat and that fact was creeping up on me. We walk in, ask for Roland, and he smiled and asked what we wanted to drink. The place was "full" by covid standards with locals laughing and telling stories. I ask for a food menu and he says they were only serving drinks. He must have read my mind because he quickly came back with, "I'm sure we can come up with something". Out came the best Ploughman's lunch ever, and of course, a beer with which to wash it down.
My husband and I enjoy similar venues, in terms of quality and fresh ingredients, but he prefers more of a kick and I prefer more subtle flavors, so finding a restaurant that nails both our expectations, is really a wonderful, unexpected thing. Whitstable had this covered. We weren’t so fortunate in Dover.
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!