Matthew Steeples visits one of Whitstable’s best-known restaurants
Credited with reviving interest in oysters, the current owners of the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company, the Green family, have very much led the transformation of Kent’s answer to Burnham Market in Norfolk or Salcombe in Devon into a fashionable destination for foodies and art lovers.
After taking over a firm that “was practically defunct, with large debts and unfashionable product” in 1978, the Greens opened a fish restaurant in the old oyster stores and began production of the Whitstable Native Oyster. Their investment in sustainable production paid off and aside from developing a thriving trade, in 1997, their beds were granted Protected Geographical Status by the European Union.
Overlooking the beach and simply styled with brick walls, gingham tablecloths and chairs you’d typically find in a French brasserie, the Greens’ restaurant is popular with tourists and locals alike. Well-known photographer John Stoddart and Italian chef Antonio Carluccio are fans and locals are as likely to be found enjoying themselves at the bar as Chinese tourists in search of authentic seafood are to be seated in the main dining room.
Aside from sampling the aforementioned oysters (£16 for half a dozen), lobster from tanks beneath the restaurant is a must (£26 with a herb and potato salad). Other options number deep fried local cod in beer batter with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce (£16.50) and a whole roast local sea bass with garlic and rosemary (£24).
Whitstable can be reached in just under an hour and a half by train from London Victoria but for those looking for a place to stay, the proprietors also own the Hotel Continental and a selection of self-catering accommodation known as The Fisherman’s Huts.
Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company Fish Restaurant, The Royal Native Oyster Stores, Horsebridge, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1BU. Telephone: +44 (0) 1227 276856.
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