A day out to the coast

Saturday, May 12th , 2012

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Pitt Cue serves barbecue in a pit that you queue for. There are no reservations, but when I went for an early lunch there was no trouble getting in. It served genuinely good pulled pork, and enjoyable rib eye, though there was some unevenness in other elements, such as dessert. However, if you stick to the core competence of the restaurant, whose passion is clearly around meat, then you will enjoy some very fine barbecued food indeed.

Tom’s Kitchen underwent a recent refurbishment. It is a commercially successful restaurant, part of the reason for this being its very appealing menu of British dishes.  Although the menu emphasises its suppliers, the quality of ingredients was not exceptional on my visit, but there were some very enjoyable dishes, and the cooking was generally good. The bill quickly mounts up though, and I find it absurd that our waiter had no idea who had ordered what, as well as forgetting one of the dishes that had been ordered. At this price point service should be of a higher standard than we encountered.

The Sportsman in Kent (pictured) is one of my favourite places, with Stephen Harris’s ingredients-driven, deceptively simple cooking a delight. A highlight this week was a gorgeous new crab dish (see the review for details and photos of the meal).  Even though prices have nudged up over the years, this is still a real bargain, and worth the almost inevitably lengthy journey there (unless of course you live in Seasalter).

A week back in London would hardly be complete for me without a visit to Hedone. The umami flan delighted my guests from Japan, and the bread, which has always been excellent here, has now climbed to a real pinnacle of quality: it is hard to imagine eating better bread in a restaurant anywhere.  Several new dishes featured in the tasting menu, including tender oxtail that had been slow-cooked for no less than 100 hours. Some old favourites were still there, such as the dazzling slip soles, this time with ginger butter. Also excellent was the strawberry millefeuille, made with puff pastry that has been made from scratch in the kitchen, and served with a stunning strawberry sorbet. As ever, the ingredient quality was impeccable.

As an aside, I came across an interesting and useful graphic that shows the set lunch prices of all the starred Michelin restaurants in the UK: This  is here (produced by