Many have called it a food pilgrimage, and it’s certainly the furthest I’ve driven for lunch in a long time but as I promised my grumbling girlfriend it was going to be totally worth the hour and a half drive down there. One glance at The Sportsman’s Urbanspoon page and you can see that any food blogger worth their salt had made the trip down to Sealsalter to check this place out, and I was quite happy to follow in their footsteps even if I was a little late to the party.
Many have waxed lyrical about the tasting menu that you can get there but sadly this is now too labour intensive to do with the weekend rush so I’m going to have to save that for another (warmer) day. The drive down was actually rather enjoyable, as we crossed over into Kent the snow was still on the ground and the sun was in the sky, the perfect weather for a day trip down to the sea.
We had planned to have a little wander round Whitstable but sadly we left the house a little late and didn’t get a chance but our friends who joined us for lunch said it was lovely and they’d actually walked from Whitstable to the restaurant which had taken them a little over an hour. Seasalter is bleak, even on such a beautiful winters day, but bleak in its own unique way. The restaurant is the complete antithesis: warm, light, and friendly, the perfect place for a spot of lunch.
As we couldn’t order the tasting menu we did our best to recreate it ourselves. Starters consisted of oysters (fresh and poached), crab risotto, terrines, and very softly poached salmon. All of it was excellent. The oysters were fresh and large, and while I enjoyed the poached variety I’m of the opinion that you can do very little to improve a fresh oyster except with a squeeze of lemon, a drop of tabasco and some red wine vinaigrette.
The risotto was expertly crafted; a heap of fresh meat on top of some wonderfully fragrant and tasty rice, I would have liked to have stolen a bowl all to myself but had to make do with a few bites. The purity of the crab and the texture of the risottoe made this a brilliant dish.
The salmon was another revelation; poached just a smidge to give it a bit of texture but still retaining the fresh flavour from the raw meat, it came with some dill cream that was just heavenly. Another I’d have happily taken for myself.
We finished of with some gorgeously meaty terrine and the home baked bread that was as good as it looks. Oh and did I mention the moreish crackling that we got started with? Yes, that too.
Mains were beautifully presented and tasted fantastic. The ray wasn’t what I was expecting at all but all the better for it. I only had one bite, as I didn’t want to share my baked cod that came in a thick, rich and creamy crab bisque sauce that was so bloody good.
I was beginning to fill up at this point but the most delightful palatte cleanser I’ve ever had snapped me back in to life, literally. Shot glasses filled with apple sorbet and popping candy were as fun as they were delicious and gave us renewed strength for one more little pudding.
A slice of lemon cake finished of the meal in style. Light and fruity, it was the only desert that we could have gone for and it was magnificent.
As the sun was setting on a brilliant lunch we went for a wander down the sea front, the light was fantastic and the view was beautifully desolate. And right in the middle of it all is such a delightful little pub, serving up some amazing grub for those that make the effort to come. And it really is worth the effort, if you haven’t been, you need to go.