Food, Glorious Food!
We’ve always known that our Isle boasts as much delectable food as it does beautiful coastline, and now we’re home to our first Michelin star restaurant! As we celebrate this huge accolade for Stark in Broadstairs, and Arya Ramsgate’s Michelin Bib Gourmand, we go behind the scenes to discover the talent behind the taste, and where else in Thanet you can indulge in award-winning food and drink.
“Good food, laid bare”
Husband and wife duo Ben and Sophie Crittenden opened Stark (named after the Stark family in Game of Thrones) in 2016, on Oscar Road in Broadstairs. Catering for just 10 people at a time, diners can expect the unexpected as they settle down to dine from a mystery six course set menu (pre-booking required). Topping Tripadvisor as the number 1 restaurant in Kent and now adorned with the Isle’s first Michelin star, we caught up with the duo to find out about their culinary inspiration.
*Tell us what makes your food stand out?
The fact that we are in a small town like Broadstairs but only serve one set menu to all customers. It changes weekly, we don’t advertise the menu anywhere beforehand and so our customers have no idea what they'll be eating before they walk through the door that evening.
*What’s your ethos?
We do what we want to do! We've found this to be our secret to success almost - doing what we want to do, rather than every request that is asked of us, means we're always confident in what’s going out that evening.
*What kind of foodie are you?
We like any food, so long as there's flavour in it. We don't really like fancy restaurants, they tend to make us ordinary folk feel uncomfortable! We like restaurants that leave us alone enough to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy the meal in front of us.
*Why did you choose Thanet as the home of your restaurant?
Ben is from Ramsgate and all of his family are still there so he's always known the Thanet area and to be frank the premises was chosen purely because it was tiny and we could see what happened.
*What do you think makes Thanet a foodie’s paradise?
There's quite a few independent food places that have opened up in Thanet in recent years so there's plenty to choose from. The majority of these small businesses seem to also share our of view of 'sticking to their guns' too, meaning they each have their concepts so you know exactly what you're going to and can make a decision based on what you fancy.
*What’s your favourite dish to make?
Ben loves cooking fish dishes. It's a bit of a tease for him though because he used to really enjoy eating fish but, in the last 10 years has developed a severe allergy to it! Maybe he's eating vicariously through the fish dish preparation!
*How do you like to spend your spare time in Thanet?
We live near the beach so we go there, whatever the weather. Our go-to on a bored day is to make a scavenger hunt list of items to find with the kids and walk to the beach, hunting for items to tick off along the way.
Ben and Sophie Crittenden. Credit Simon Jacobs
Stark. Credit Simon Jacobs
Ben Crittenden. Credit Simon Jacobs
"Great value modern European small plates"
The Michelin Bib Gourmand recognise pubs and restaurants offering exceptionally good food at moderate prices. Luke at Arya Ramsgate reveals the secrets behind the success of this newly crowned restaurant, found above the Ravensgate Arms pub.
*What makes Arya so special for diners?
The simplicity of the dishes and the way in which we serve them and run our service - we are incredibly relaxed (this is no shirt and tie venue) and the sharing style of small plates - it doesn’t seem that many restaurants in the area are doing that right now. I love to forage weekly and try to incorporate these ingredients when possible.
*What’s your style of food?
Uncomplicated, simple cooking with concentrated 'big' flavours.
*What kind of foodie are you?
I mainly eat vegan when I cook at home or eat out, but sometimes I’ll sneak a bit of cheese or seafood in there, every now and then.
*Why did you choose Thanet as Arya’s home?
Ramsgate is my hometown and I have moved back here from London. I almost left the industry due to some personal reasons but when we were offered the space above the Ravensgate Arms, I felt this was a good opportunity to carry on doing the thing I love (cooking) without the pressure of being a Head Chef in London. In Ramsgate, the pace of life is a lot more relaxing and I'm enjoying cooking even more now.
*When you’re not making delicious food, where do you go in Thanet to satisfy your foodie desires?
Shakey Shakey down the High Street is probably the best chippy I've ever eaten in and their vegan menu is crazy good! I absolutely love Archive in the arches too.
*What’s your favourite dish to make and why?
In the restaurant, gnocchi, it’s really simple but I find it really relaxing to roll. At home, I love making vegan curries with my girlfriend because I love curry and spiced food.
*How do you like to spend your time off in Thanet?
The west cliff in ramsgate is lovely or Ellington Park, especially when walking the dogs. I love Archive for a cheeky coffee and I do like to forage toward Pegwell Bay and down Ramsgate seafront. I'm incredibly lucky to be above the Ravensgate Arms which serves the best craft beer in the area and has the best staff, regulars and loads of dogs
Michelin Bib Gourmand Award
And the accolades don’t stop there…
The Good Food Guide 2020 features nine tempting eateries and one pub, whilst ten micropubs and six microbreweries in Thanet have been listed in the Good Beer Guide 2020. There’s nothing better than delicious nosh and a tipple with friends, loved ones and family to leave a lovely taste in your mouth after your time away at the coast.
Good Food Guide
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- GB Pizza
- Hantverk and Found
- The Kentish Pantry
- Bottega Caruso
- Wyatt and Jones
Good Beer Guide
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- Old Bay Alehouse
- Mind the Gap
- St Peter’s
- Four Candles Alehouse
- Banks Ale & Wine House, Cliftonville
- Hair of the Dog
- Conqueror Alehouse
- Hovelling Boat Inn
- Montefiore Arms
- Bake & Alehouse
And the real ale breweries featured are:
- By The Mile
- Four Candles
- Isla Vale
- Northdown Brewery
- Ramsgate (Gadds’)