the sportsman, seasalter

i stopped writing restaurant reviews on here as it’s not something i particularly enjoy doing – i tend to only write about meals i’ve loved and there are only so many ways you can say that something is delicious! however, this may be changing as people keep asking me about new places to eat and the blog is a good way to avoid having to say the same thing too many times!

i doubt i’ll be documenting things in the great level of detail which some bloggers do – getting my camera out in a restaurant is only occasionally something i’m happy to do. however, at the sportsman last weekend i did exactly that, as a friend had asked for photos and, as we were sitting in a window booth i didn’t feel too self-conscious.

we first visited the sportsman in early 2007 and it has been on my list of places to return to ever since. an anniversary weekend was the impetus i needed to book and i’m really pleased we made it, despite the appalling kentish weather (think wet, very wet, and even wetter).

after being served a delicious basket of bread – caramelised onion and rosemary foccacia, sour dough and soda bread – with olives and their home-churned butter, we had an excellent pair of starters. the smoked mackerel on soda bread with gooseberry jelly and horseradish was my favourite. the mackerel had delicate smokiness to it and the dish was wonderfully light and fresh.

david’s pork terrine was incredibly flavoursome – large pieces of perfectly seasoned pork were wrapped in cabbage, whose vegetal flavour worked incredibly well with the intensely meaty pork. toasted foccacia, gherkins, mustard and the best soft but crunchy pork scratchings accompanied it – heaven on a plate (board).

i had more fish as my main - seared thornback ray, brown butter, cockles and sherry vinegar on a bed of shredded cabbage. the fish was perfectly cooked and i loved the flavour of its slightly crispy edges. i found the dish very rich though and couldn’t detect the sherry vinegar which had been promised via the menu - i think this would have made a huge difference, cutting through the butter and perking up the cockles.

david’s main course was roasted rack of monkshill lamb – three large chops, each of which had crispy crackling-style edges, plus another cut of richer meat hiding underneath with some potato gratin and sliced green beans. the lamb had a beautiful flavour and while i found chops a bit fatty the mint sauce perked everything up perfectly.

we were both quite full at this stage but decided we had to have pudding despite this– pure greed. raspberry and almond tart with cream cheese ice cream for the gentleman and chilled chocolate mousse cake for the lady. david’s tart was enormous but, thankfully, also quite light and less stodgy than almond puddings can sometimes be. it tasted fresh and was quickly demolished. however, my chocolate cake was very rich and once i ran out of raspberries, i ran out steam and had to push the final mouthfuls in david’s direction.

all this, plus three glasses of wine, came to just under £80. this is fabulous value and adds to the sportsman’s appeal – i thoroughly recommend it. and if you need somewhere wonderful to stay i suggest you contact vickie who runs the linen shed which is nearby. the setting is french shabby chic, the welcome incredibly friendly and generous and the breakfasts are superb.

the sportsman

faversham road, seasalter, whitstable, kent ct5 4bp

t - 01227 273370

the linen shed

104 the street, boughton under blean, kent me13 9ap

t – 01227 752271