FeaturedFood + Drink

Ahoy! Kent’s Sensational Seafood Spots

With 350 miles of glorious coastline, Kent is awash with sublime seafood restaurants helping to keep the county’s centuries-old fishing heritage alive and thriving. 

Fishing: one of mankind’s most ancient skills. It is safe to say that ever since humans walked upon this fair isle, the waters of Kent have forever been fished and our love of seafood has never waned. For all of Kent’s coastal towns, fishing and the trade that comes with it has played a crucial role in the development of the character and culture that defines them today. 

Ramsgate Harbour

Two such places in which fishing thrived the most were Folkestone and Ramsgate. Today, visitors can take a trip back in time and appreciate this heritage at Folkestone’s Fishing History and Heritage Museum. Here, a hands-on display shows fishing equipment, artefacts and fascinating historical pictures of former Folkestone fishermen and their boats. For those that want to get a real glimpse into the art of fishing and see fishermen in action, visit Ramsgate Harbour, which is still very much representative of its fishing heritage. According to www.fishingnews.co.uk, Ramsgate Harbour started with humble beginnings, but swiftly became a major fishing spot in southern England. “After a major storm on 16 December 1748, which caused considerable damage to many vessels off the Thanet coast, it was decided to develop Ramsgate harbour as a safe haven. Fishing expanded at a rapid pace. In 1863, there were some 50 fishing boats registered at Ramsgate, and by 1873 this figure had risen to around 140. It would eventually peak at 185. By 1890, there were over 300 fishing vessels using Ramsgate, from as far away as Brixham and Lowestoft. During these boom times, the daily autumn herring catch could reach 150 tonnes.” 

Ramsgate Harbour

No matter which coastal Kent town you visit, remnants of a history with fishing is certain to be seen, celebrated and still practised. Come 2023, this heritage blends seamlessly into a blissful modern-age of seafood dining, with every one of Kent’s seaside towns being home to an eclectic mix of both fishmongers and seafood restaurants. Whether they be traditional traders reflecting the skills of our ancestors, or modern brasseries embracing alternative twists and international influences on classic dishes, Kent has plenty to pick from. Here are just some of insideKENT’s favourites:

Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, Whitstable / @wheelersoysterbar

An unmissable pink-painted attribute to the town’s high street, which is not only a pretty sight but also a delightful experience for the taste buds. Founded way back in 1856, it has served delectable morsels and far more than just the famous Whitstable oyster ever since. We recommend visiting their counter which serves mouthwatering arancini (think succulent crab and prawn) to make any Italian proud and so many more divine deli-style items. Owner, Delia, learned the art of seafood working alongside her parents making everything from scratch including bread which is baked on the premises right through to the ice creams. Savour your treats on the beach and watch the sailors of Whitstable Yacht Club create a picture-perfect scene out on the water as you eat.

Wheelers Oyster Bar, image by @oriccini

Royal Harbour Brasserie, Ramsgate / @royalharbourbrasserie

Featuring a regularly changing menu with a focus on imaginative fish dishes by head chef and seafood genius Adrian Mowl. Trained at the Dorchester Hotel, London, Adrian was executive chef in the London Olympic Village 2012 and prior to that launched the restaurant in Margate’s Turner Contemporary Gallery, cooking the gala dinner for HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and while working in Sweden, cooked for King Gustav of Sweden at the Nobel Peace prize dinner. “I cook the kind of food I like to eat – so, lots of seafood,” says Adrian. 

Fish Union, Chislehurst / @fishunionlondon 

From small plates and sharing platters, to fine wine and a daily selection of fresh fish from their counter, come along and let these supreme seafood experts take care of you. This summer, enjoy alfresco dining on the terrace or purchase a sizzling seafood BBQ box to enjoy at home. Marrying an upmarket wet fishmonger with a small seafood and Champagne bar, alongside a selection of masterclasses, the expert chefs at Fish Union are keen to impart their knowledge and bring their extensive list of suppliers to bear on the local market – they aim to create the ultimate seafood shopping and dining experience from the leafy Royal Parade, Chislehurst.

Fish Union, Chislehurst

Fish at 55, Rochester / @fishat55

Believing that ‘good food is a good mood’ Fish at 55 use only the freshest ingredients from sea and land. Proudly sourcing most of their produce from Billingsgate Fish Market and local fisherman in Hythe, eat assured that you will be dining on fish that is delivered fresh and daily. Menu highlights include seared scallops with tenderstem broccoli, baby fennel and creamy garlic sauce and whole native lobster dripping with gorgeous garlic butter next to a side of skinny chips.

Fish at 55

Ocean Basket, Bromley / @ocean_basket_uk

Family run and much-adored seafood restaurant with a heap of Mediterranean passion and flavour expertise. “Our passion for food comes from the Mediterranean lifestyle where a meal means sitting down with family and friends and sharing laughter, stories and bountiful food,” say founders Fatz and George Lazarides. “We’re also bold and adventurous, offering speciality seafood items including prawns and calamari with their buttery, rich flavours for the more outgoing palate.”

The Waterfront, Hythe / @thewaterfronthythe

Reflecting the owner’s clear penchant for collectibles while maintaining an air of sophistication and a side-serving of fun, Hythe seafront’s extensively refurbished and rebranded The Waterfront is a sensory experience that goes much further than taste. Expect supreme views of the ocean out beyond as you tuck into delicious dishes such as their highly acclaimed oysters.

The Waterfront, Hythe

Dover Patrol Restaurant & Bar, Dover / @the_dover_patrol_restaurant

Offering the best of British and French cuisine with frontline views of the English Channel and Dover’s busy port. Expect a menu comprised of the freshest and tastiest local seafood. Kent born and educated Turrloo Parrett, who built up the prestigious Eastwell Manor Ashford, has put all his efforts into developing his Dover Patrol Restaurant brand which he wants to flourish in the same way. ‘Quality not compromise’ remains his motto.

Fish on the Green, Bearsted / @fishonthegreen

Fish on the Green is one of Kent’s best seafood restaurants, listed in the Michelin Guide and the proud holder of two AA Rosettes. Serving superb quality fish and shellfish, freshly prepared, using the finest local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible from a converted stable block, this is now a stylish dining room complete with a small pre-drinks bar.

The Square Fish Café, Lenham / @the_square_fish_cafe

Contemporary restaurant and bar set in the picturesque market village of Lenham in a sensitively restored Grade II listed building. The menu offers the best in fresh local fish and seafood, with plenty of options for both meat eaters and vegetarians, a few Mediterranean twists inspired by the owner’s Cypriot heritage, and some French influence from head chef Fabien.

With a daily specials board and a catch of the day, The Square Fish showcases the freshest bounty from the Kent coast with a focus on quality ingredients where flavour is king.

Square Fish Café, Lenham

Sankey’s Old Fish Market, Tunbridge Wells / @sankeysrtw

Situated in the Old Fishmarket building in the heart of The Pantiles, Sankey’s exclusive Champagne and seafood bar has become a real jewel in the town’s crown. Serving a wide range of Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world, it is a fabulous place to relax and enjoy the very best British fish and shellfish in a romantic setting full of charm and character. Specialising in oysters and shellfish, a range of oysters never before seen in the town include catches from Carlingford, Colchester, Lindisfarn and The Duchy of Cornwall to name but a few. Fresh crabs and lobsters from Cornwall arrive live and direct from Cadgwith Cove and are dressed by the expert chefs on site daily. 

Sankey’s, Tunbridge Wells

Buoy & Oyster, Margate / @buoyandoyster

Not only can you soak up the sunshine and marvel at those renowned J.M.W. Turner sunsets at what is arguably Kent’s most famous beach, you can also delight in some of the UK’s best seafood cooked to critically acclaimed perfection at Buoy and Oyster. Family run and overlooking the beach in Margate, enjoy time with friends and family while eating great quality food, supporting local suppliers and enjoying stunning sea views.

 Esteemed award winners of 2 AA Rosettes since 2019, and proud to be featured in Harden’s UK Top rated UK restaurants 2021, Buoy and Oyster’s ethos is simple: ‘to serve great quality food and drinks in a relaxed and stylish seaside setting.’ Chefs Simon, Craig and their team work closely with local suppliers to create the meticulously curated menus. By using Kent-based fishermen, all fish and shellfish used at Buoy and Oyster is usually landed and put on your plate the very same day. Their Canterbury-based butcher ensures all of their game and meat are reared in local farms too. Working closely with their fishmonger to ensure their menu echoes the seasons and has been responsibly sourced, the majority of Buoy and Oyster’s menu will come straight from one of their 18 day boats which fish the Kentish waters of Margate, Whitstable, Ramsgate, Folkestone and Broadstairs. 

Buoy & Oyster, Margate

Rocksalt, Folkestone / @rocksaltfolkestone

Serving Kentish seafood at its best, Rocksalt is cantilevered over Folkestone’s thriving harbour with panoramic floor-to-ceiling views out over the English Channel. With such strong visuals that pour in through the windows, bounce off the roaring ocean and scintillate throughout the restaurant, it comes as no surprise that Rocksalt’s dishes reflect the beauty of their environment. With an ethos built around seasonality, locality and simplicity, Rocksalt focuses on flavour and presentation while allowing the best produce available to them from the south coast of Kent to shine through in every dish.

Rocksalt, Folkestone

Kebbells, Broadstairs / @kebbells_broadstairs

A beautifully designed restaurant with a relaxed and informal vibe, featuring a theatrical seafood bar where exquisite specials and platters are created such as tuna tartare with brown crab meat tapioca crackers, native lobster with nduja butter, oysters from Whitstable, Jersey or Maldon and Exmoor caviar. The menu is seasonal and changes weekly, offering fresh, sustainably sourced seafood from local day boats, meats and vegetables from British and local farms along with fine wines and craft beers. “We offer small and larger sharing plates with a European-Asian twist. Think ibiza meets Taiwan. We love this way of eating – it’s sociable and all about variety.” 

Kebbell’s, Broadstairs

The Pearl, Beckenham / @thepearl_bck

A brand new brasserie and cocktail bar now open seven days a week in the heart of Beckenham, this newly refurbished venue offers terrace dining, a downstairs cocktail lounge complete with a bar menu and bespoke cocktails exclusive to The Pearl, as well as a refined a la carte menu with fresh, locally sourced produce. Providing quality food and service amidst a sleek backdrop with a taste of sophisticated, contemporary dishes, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

Angela’s and Dory’s, Margate / @angelas_of_margate / @dorys_of_margate 

Angela’s and Dory’s may be situated around the corner from each but the minds behind them see the two sites as all part of the same idea. Angela’s came first, and is a small seafood restaurant and rooms serving delicious local seafood alongside simple, seasonal vegetable-based dishes. Then its little sister Dory’s came about: a seafood bar serving raw, pickled, cured and baked seafood and vegetable dishes overlooking Margate Main Sands. It also has a wine shop selling English and European organic, biodynamic and low-intervention wines that respect both soil and grape. The philosophy for both is an uncomplicated one: “We will always consider our people and our planet first, working directly with growers, fishermen and suppliers who understand how to make the most of their produce and at the same time minimise the impact on our environment.”

Brettingtons, Rochester / @brettingtons_steakandlobster

Famous for its gorgeous fresh lobster from the British Isles. A real must for seafood fanatics and those that appreciate a diverse menu with seasonal dishes. If lobster is not your thing, try scallops, white crab on toast, grilled salmon fillet or the famously good steak amongst other meat and veggie dishes.

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