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sue

Member since 20 Feb 2007
The Sportsman
Whitstable | Pubs
5
Worth the trek
If you find yourself down Whitstable way, and you want to have a fantastic meal (Michelin starred no less) in a very relaxed environment (run-down looking pub) off the beaten track (in the middle of nowhere), then I can highly recommend The Sportsman.

This pub is located in Seasalter, a couple of miles from Whitstable in Kent. We trekked down from London one Friday specifically for lunch at The Sportsman, as the reviews were good, and the menu sounded even better. Make sure you pre-book. When we arrived, several groups of people were being turned away as they were fully booked.

We were given a very warm welcome and allocated a huge table for the four of us, in the main bar area. The menu was blackboard style, and the emphasis was on seafood. Service was relaxed and incredibly friendly - just place your order at the counter and your meals will be delivered when ready.

The meal started with the appearance of a large bread board with some warm foccacia and sour dough, and some tasty little olives, all complimentary. For our first course we chose the Mussel & Bacon Chowder; the Lobster Raviolo with Lobster Bisque; and the Smoked Mackerel, Bramley Apple jelly & Soda bread. The chowder was good, but the Lobster dish was amazing - so rich, creamy, delicious. Wow.

Main courses chosen were the Poached Duck Egg, new season asparagus & Seasalter ham salad (actually a starter); the Seared Thornback Ray with brown butter, split peas & sherry wine vinegar; and the Roast Monkshill Farm Pork Belly & apple sauce. The standout was the Pork Belly - the pork really melted in your mouth, and although the other dishes were excellent we all had pork-envy.

Pretty full by now, but wanting to enjoy all that The Sportsman had to offer, we shared a couple of desserts - the Warm Chocolate Mousse with salted caramel, and milk sorbet; and the Blood Orange Ice Lolly, cake-milk & Moscow Mule. The mousse was like a very thick hot chocolate and the salted caramel worked so well.

Absolutely loved our lunch at The Sportsman and have already put it back on the to-do list!
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4
Fab Sunday Lunch
We had a really nice Sunday lunch with friends at The Old Bear in Cobham. It was a wet and windy day, and the cosy atmosphere of the pub really added to an enjoyable meal.

To start, we ordered the Smoked Eel with organic beetroot salad and horseradish cream; and the Traditional style country terrine with fruit chutney and sourdough toast. Both were polished off by the blokes with a little help from the ladies.

Main course - I had the Roast Rump of Langhorn Beef, with Yorkshire Pudding and veggies; while the other three shared the Rib of Angus Beef with Yorkshire puddings and veggies. The latter was said to serve 2-3 people, which would be a good estimate for the meat, but there were enough potatoes and other veggies to feed the whole pub! And the potatoes were so tasty that we bought the leftovers home. Oh, and did I mention that the Yorkshire Puddings were HUGE!

Although very full by this stage, we decided to share a couple of desserts, in the end both couples opted for the Sticky Toffee Sundae with clotted cream and toffee sauce. It was rich and delicious. A thoroughly enjoyable, and very filling meal… no dinner was required that night!
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The Anchor & Hope
London | Pub Restaurants
4
Noisy, crowded, but tasty food
We had a Saturday lunch at the Anchor & Hope. As they don't take bookings (apart from for Sunday lunch), we arrived at 12pm and queued up, waiting for the dining room to open. Not long after we were seated in the middle of the room, making the small space even more cramped with our pram.

The three of us couldn't decide between all the good sounding menu options, so decided to share several starters, instead of ordering individual main courses. We had the Salt Beef Broth with parsley & dumplings (deemed by my companions to be the best soup of the year); the Potato, Queen Scallop & Mussel salad; the Beetroot, Horseradish & Watercress salad; the Bresaola, Rocket & Lemon; and the Deep Fried Rabbit with Radish & Rouille. All very enjoyable - great flavours and attractive presentation.

We were full but desserts sounded too good to miss. We had the Queen of Puddings; the Flourless Chocolate Cake; and some Pecan Praline ice cream (evil) and Ale ice cream (better than it sounds). Again, all were so delicious. The chocolate cake was very rich though and even with three of us eating we couldn't finish it.

Service was relaxed and friendly throughout our meal, and the atmosphere was great, though noise levels didn't make for easy conversation.
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The Pot Kiln
Thatcham | Pub Restaurants
4
Excellent Pub Food in Gorgeous Country Setting
The Pot Kiln is located in a gorgeous, remote setting, about 15 minutes drive from Junction 12 of the M4 motorway. We went for lunch on possibly the wettest and windiest Saturday of the year. After big delays getting out of London, we arrived half an hour late for our reservation, ravenous.

The pub was small and very cosy, especially as our table was closest to the fire, which was perfect on such a wintery day. We ordered and were offered some homemade bread - brown or focaccia. The focaccia was doughy and delicious. I had a second slice.

To start, Alex had the Ragu of Berkshire Hare with tagliatelle, aged parmesan, and Wiltshire truffle (which was shaved on top at the table). It was pretty delicious, though he thought a little heavy on the hare. For main course we both had the Pave of Linkenfolt Fallow deer, with pomme puree, buttered brussel tops, and peppercorn sauce - all very tasty and flavoursome. The venison was shot by the chef himself, in the local area.

Desserts were also very good - we had the Homemade bread & butter pudding with Baileys custard, and the Honey & Rosemary Pannacotta, with cinder toffee. The pannacotta was dense and creamy and worked well with the very evil cinder toffee.

The only real negative I can come up with about our visit was that there were no baby changing facilities…. but then I guess babies don't really belong in pubs anyway ; )
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FOWEY HOTEL
Fowey | Hotels & Inns
4
Fabulous Views
We stayed for two nights at the Fowey Hotel, an old Victorian hotel dating back to 1882, which sits on a hill offering magnificent views over the Fowey estuary. The hotel is located about a 5 minute walk from the heart of town, via the Esplanade.

Not all rooms have a view, but we specifically booked a "Premier Room" to guarantee a view, and found on arrival that we had been upgraded to the "Honeymoon Suite"! While not as luxurious as it sounds, the views from the room were gorgeous, and we even had a small private balcony.

Parking is of a premium in Fowey, and you can request car parking at the hotel when you book (£10 per night). If successful (there are limited spots), a space will be pre-allocated to you, and will be marked with your name before you arrive.

We found the staff to be friendly and helpful for the most part, especially one of the porters, Stewart, who was filled with information and suggestions.

There is a relaxing bar and lounge area which is a great place for a drink or afternoon tea - we enjoyed both while gazing out the large windows to the water views. The restaurant is an impressive looking room, and it serves up decent breakfasts and dinners, with a view from some tables (book in advance if you want one).
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Porthminster Beach Cafe
St. Ives | Fish & Seafood Restaurants
4
Great food, relaxed style, lovely views
'Everyone' said that a meal at the Porthminster Cafe was a must when in St Ives, so a table was booked a couple of weeks in advance and a table with the best view was requested, which they could confirm if we dined at 6pm. No problem, I go to bed early these days anyway.

On arrival, we were greeted warmly and led to a small table by the window, looking straight out onto the beach and ocean. We really enjoyed the view during our meal and even spotted a couple of seals just offshore.

Alex started with the Cornish Scallops, with cauliflower puree, Cornish bacon, spiced nuts and warm grape & truffle jelly. The dish was beautifully cooked and presented. For main course he had the Porthminster Monkfish Curry, with scallops, prawns, mussels, coconut, tamarind, turmeric, and jasmine rice; and I had the Pan Roasted on the bone Lemon Sole, with local rock samphire, vanilla pomme puree, crab, lemon, and spring vegetables. Both meals were most enjoyable, with fresh, perfectly cooked seafood and lovely flavours - apart from the 'vanilla pomme puree' which was too sweet for my liking.

For dessert, Alex had the intriguing sounding Caramel Bananas, with cinnamon meringues, pistachio ice cream, cinder toffee and Cornish wildflower honey. It not only looked fantastic, but tasted excellent too and made it to Alex's Top 10 desserts of all time list. My dessert was equally delish - the only thing I fancied on the menu was a Double Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream that accompanied one of the desserts, and after asking politely I was presented with a big bowl full of this decadent treat.

We had a really memorable evening at this relaxed restaurant - enjoyable food, friendly service and lovely views. Would certainly return if I am back in St Ives one day.
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The Seafood Cafe
St. Ives | Fish & Seafood Restaurants
3
Seafood Cafe
The Seafood Café is located on one of the main (very narrow) streets in St Ives, a block back from the harbour. We had dinner there one evening on the recommendation of our hotel. As it was a Saturday night we booked a week or so in advance.

The restaurant has a fairly relaxed feel to it, helped by the fact that you go up to the fish counter to order your meal - basically there is a display cabinet of today's fresh fish, and you choose what type you would like, tell them how you want it cooked, it you want any sauce or crust, and then choose potatoes and other side dishes. They also have meat for the non-fish eaters. There is a blackboard menu with a range of starters too.

We started with a serve of Crispy Chilli Squid, which was served with lime aioli. Next we had the Halibut Steak, with some sort of crust, and some rocket mash; and the Lemon Sole with parmesan mash. The fresh fish was cooked just right. For dessert we shared the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was a leaning-tower-like pudding, with a big pot of butterscotch sauce and clotted cream. I'm very glad we were sharing it as it was very rich.
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Camelot Castle Hotel
Tintagel | Hotels & Inns
2
Looks can be deceiving
When I read about the Camelot Castle Hotel I knew I had to stay there. Who wouldn't want to stay in a grand, castle like hotel located on the edge of a cliff with stunning views over old castle ruins and the ocean?!

We booked a one night stay in a "Classic Four Poster Room – spacious room in a traditional castle style with Four Poster Bed and stunning views of the Atlantic and the Old Castle Ruins with en-suite shower facilities".

Upon arrival the place seemed deserted - there were no hotel staff to be seen anywhere. We hung about the foyer for almost 10 minutes before someone appeared (there was no bell to summon anyone, and we couldn't even phone them as there was no mobile range). The same thing happened that evening when we went down to the bar for our 'complimentary welcome drink'.

Our room was indeed spacious and had stunning views and a grand four poster bed. The shower and toilet were housed in a plastic pod type capsule to one side of the room (like something from a caravan) and were very cramped. The décor was pretty shabby and the room could have done with a bit of a spring clean, and a new mattress. But I did love that view.

The whole hotel seemed to be covered in art work that had been created by one of the owners, and I must say I'm not a fan of his work. It really didn't fit with the grand castle atmosphere and looked very out of place. For example, the look of the impressive dining room was totally ruined by the countless large canvases covered in pink paint with glitter swirls and stuck-on butterflies - I kid you not!

We ate dinner and breakfast in the dining room, and the art work, coupled with the terrible euro-trash music they were playing really spoilt the mood. It probably didn't help that the food wasn't anywhere near as good as they think it is, and the service, although well meaning was amateurish.

Bottom line - loved the location of the hotel and the grandness, not to mention the fabulous round-table in the foyer, and those coastal views. Glad we only stayed for one night though.
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Stein's Fish & Chips
Padstow | Fish & Chip Shops & Restaurants
3
Not the best in Cornwall (I hope!)
Padstow is also known as 'Padstein' as it seems celebrity chef Rick Stein has taken over the town with his various eating venues and food establishments. We decided not to shell out for a meal at his expensive Seafood Restaurant, but opted instead for a relaxed lunch at Stein's Fish & Chips, which offers take away and also has an eat-in section.

You may need to ask directions to find the place, as its address of 'South Quay' is not particularly helpful, and it is located away from the harbour and the majority of restaurants/cafes, though only a short walk.

When we arrived there was a short queue, but after only a couple of minutes wait we were seated in a prime position at a high bench looking out the window. This was perfect for the two of us, as all the other seating is at communal tables and was a little cramped.

We ordered a Haddock & chips and a Plaice & chips, both with sides of mushy peas. The food arrived fairly quickly, casually served in cardboard take away boxes. The fish was obviously fresh and well cooked, though I wasn't too keen on the batter, and the chips were under-cooked and too starchy.
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4
Quirky Chocolate Cafe
On a recent day trip to Brighton my first priority was a visit to Choccywoccydoodah Bar du Chocolat. Hidden away on a back street, it was indeed worth seeking out. It has colourful, glamorous décor, and serves up giant serves of chocolate cake, sundaes and other decadent treats. You can hire their "intimate boudoir" for a "extravagant chocolate feast", which sounds ideal for a girlie afternoon tea.

I was fairly restrained with my food choice, opting for a slice of Chocolate Truffle cake, which turned out to be massive, and was served with a big scoop of chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was Choccywoccydoodah-delicious!
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