Much has been written about Margate’s transformation from seaside has-been to hip, arty hangout. Even close by Ramsgate was reckoned to be reinventing itself a couple of years in the past, with a boutique lodge and a flowery chef at its Royal Harbour Brasserie. But Broadstairs, sitting primly between the 2, has by no means gone in for that form of factor, thanks very a lot.
Why wouldn’t it want regenerating when it has cute fishermen’s cottages, sandy bays – one inside a sheltering harbour arm, one other a preferred surf spot – extra literary connections than you may shake a pen at, quaint pubs and two retro ice-cream parlours?
There have, nonetheless, been updates to Broadstairs’ old style attraction. A restaurant the place we used to take our youngsters for fish and chips is now Wyatt & Jones, a restaurant serving dishes akin to turbot on the bone with confit fennel potatoes (mains from £17.50). And in Stark, on the different finish of the entrance, chef Ben Crittenden has simply 12 covers, a six-course tasting menu for £45, and a protracted ready checklist.
Viking Bay and the harbour at Broadstairs
Broadstairs additionally has some trendy B&Bs and, since 2016, the Yarrow hotel-cum-training facility however its latest opening, the Bay Tree, ups the ante with its heat welcome and enviable place by the white cliffs and golden sand of Stone Bay.
We see the way it bought its identify as quickly as we pull into the lodge automobile park. Shading what might be a fairly patio is a splendid bay tree, stout of trunk and over 10 metres tall. It’s supposedly Kent’s largest and oldest bay tree, house owners Robert Stone and Alistair Dixon inform us as soon as we have been inside. The indifferent red-brick home can also be massive and outdated, feeling in some methods just like the household home it was constructed to be in 1896. There’s no reception: simply an attractive “library bar” – with a bell for consideration – and a bay-windowed, sea-view sitting room.
It’s all repurposed antiques and pleasing paint shades that mirror the unique Minton ground, found underneath carpet within the hallway. It was a distinct story when the couple purchased the home in 2015. “The decor was pure 1984,” says Alistair, “but we’d already fallen in love with it.”
Sea-view sitting room
That love was examined over the following years as they ran the business, noting all the issues and failings, the aluminium home windows and in-room washbasins, earlier than closing for a refurb that took for much longer than anticipated. The reopening was this winter with, up to now, six bedrooms: 4 with sea views, all with Swiss Laufen loos. Our room, although not massive, is in shades of crimson and a gray that, at the moment, matches the expanse of North Sea we admire from the window
I’ve by no means tried tempura’d cherry tomato, and it’s a juicy flavour bomb
A seaside B&B, nonetheless luxurious, continues to be simply that, and Robert and Alistair needed to make extra of the place. So, on a stretch of entrance with no pubs or cafes, they open the bar and restaurant to all. Indeed, as we chat, three ladies blow in from the seashore to take a seat around the library hearth with glasses of wine. We’re tempted to do the identical however the city centre is 5 minutes’ stroll away, so we take a pre-dinner stroll to Viking Bay, trying out the promenade, tiny Palace cinema and discreet amusements. We heat up at The Chapel, an actual ale bar that wears its historical past on its partitions: as soon as a part of 14th-century St Mary’s chapel, it was a bookshop earlier than changing into a pub, and nonetheless has cabinets filled with secondhand volumes, and common dwell music.
Back on the Bay Tree, we peruse a pleasingly brief dinner menu – 4 starters, 4 mains. Chef Keith Dunstane is from the well-regarded Sands in Margate, and he’s nonetheless getting settled. Some issues are admirable: heat selfmade rosemary bread, and my starter of tempura veg with punchy chilli sauce. I’ve by no means tried tempura’d cherry tomato, and it’s a juicy flavour bomb. Husband’s scallop starter and most important of native sea bass are additionally good, although there’s a number of pea purée round in each. But my roast rooster breast is, effectively, boring: moist and tender however with no oomph from its madeira jus and missing the marketed rooster crackling.
Opening our curtains subsequent morning to the solar developing over the ocean is pure delight, although, as are Alistair’s expertly cooked breakfasts of kippers (him) and bacon and egg (me), accompanied by a beneficiant jug of espresso.
Broadstairs could not assume it wants regenerating however the Bay Tree’s offbeat attraction might find yourself having that impact. It labored on us.
• Accommodation was supplied by The Bay Tree (doubles from £99 B&B, 01843 862503, baytreebroadstairs.co.uk)
Ask a neighborhood
Kiki Case, editor, Isle Magazine and co-owner, The Ravensgate Arms
Octopus, potato and crimson onion tapas at Albariño, Broadstairs
For tapas, head to Albarino. It was opened a couple of years in the past by Broadstairs-born Steven Dray, who has cooked at locations all around the world, earlier than returning home. If the climate is ok, you may’t beat a bacon sarnie or Greek salad by the seashore at Louisa Bay Cafe. For an ice-cream, Morelli’s on the seafront, serving selfmade gelato, is a should.
Pubs providing native actual ale and eating with beautiful sea views embody the Tartar Frigate, which specialises in seafood, and the Charles Dickens. The space can also be home to a number of micropubs: meet locals at Four Candles, the Yard of Ale or The 39 Steps.
Walk or cycle the Viking Coastal Trail, which follows the coast to Margate a technique, and Ramsgate the opposite. On a Thursday or Saturday morning from March to September, take the St Peter’s Village Tour, a free costumed guided stroll.
Broadstairs has attention-grabbing boutiques and present retailers, akin to Kit, Arrowsmiths and the La De Da boutique. And in Ramsgate, Petticoat Lane Emporium provides under-cover procuring with its 175 stalls of antiques, crafts, curios and classic garments.