Now this is a restaurant which I am going to rave about which may make you question why exactly I have taken a picture of some unflashy toilets and used that as a header? The reason being is that the Sportsman’s toilets somehow demonstrated to me how it is all about the food.
Our week back in London saw some resplendent meals and some resplendent surroundings. Sometimes the two came together and sometimes in restaurants with glorious open kitchens and custom decor and fancy loos like Heston’s Dinner they sure as hell did not.
If you read the history of the Sportsman on their homepage here you will see it obviously used to be an epically shit pub. One with some history but one which had been ravaged by English provincial choices as to decor. There were even inbuilt fish tanks. And evidence of that still remains on the walk to the loo as you pass some rather bizarre murals and then enter into what is undoubtedly a pub loo. Simple urinals and resolutely un-pimped or preened surroundings.
This is because what the Sportsman is all about is the food. Their entire success is built on serving great food in what was previously a dead-end no-hoper venue and reaping the success from that.
And now to really get back to the food. Ever since having lived in Hong Kong we haven’t had a single fish meal where even a component of it challenges the brilliance of what the old men and women can do with a wok in a few of Hong Kong’s best restaurants or dai pai dongs. This is despite over zealous eating everywhere we can at all levels of the food hierarchy.
That is until the Sportsman brought out their oysters. I’ve had oysters from Whitstable before and they are obviously one of the premium options for English oysters. However, the Sportsman plain improved them by dressing them with a beurre blanc, pickled cucumber, caviar. We immediately regretted not ordering rounds and rounds of them.
There were other dishes which similarly blew us away such as the slip sole and the lamb I choose for a main. However, what really ended it was Jen’s main of a hake in crab bisque with fennel. I draw the short straw on this meal as in order to get a full ‘experience’ we wanted to try the gambit of dishes. However, from the get-go it was the hake which looked most interesting. The one concern is that it might be a bit too rich and mean that you didn’t really need all of it.
That concern was unfounded. Trying to prize a morsel out of Jen or even slow her eating was nearly impossible. It was a sit there and smoke a cigarette after sex piece of fish. Expect we also took my mum to the restaurant for a day out.
So the Sportsman. Wow. And one of the great things about it and Whitstable for those of us exiled to Asia is that it also make a nice day trip as you can visit the seaside, take a walk and even see some fisheries. The meal, the place, the experience cannot be recommended enough.
- Price – GBP 250.00 for three
- Address – Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP (+44 1227 273370)
PS it now has a Michelin star which is interesting once you read the manifesto of the chef where he wanted to bring that food without the “superfluous extras” to the people. Which he has done.