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Rocksalt in Folkestone: We tried the popular Kent seafood restaurant


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Above shimmering water lay a veil of mist shrouding my view. It was not until I stepped further along Folkestone’s Harbour Arm that I began to recognise what was beyond the silvery haze.

The glass-panelled restaurant Rocksalt appeared to be bolted to the top of the sea wall. It was beginning to bustle with smartly-dressed couples and families.

Jack Dyson outside Rocksalt in Folkestone
Jack Dyson outside Rocksalt in Folkestone

Famed for its seafood and sweeping views of the Channel, the restaurant has for the last decade been one of the hottest tickets in Kent. It has won numerous awards and regularly features in lists of the finest eateries in the South East, with its most recent inclusion coming in The Times’ 30 best places to eat by the sea.

My wife and I made sure to get there on time, for the revelation that it dished out £35 no-show charges had us fearing we would leave Folkestone unfed and out of pocket. After being shown to our table, we ordered our drinks – a rich glass of red for the other half and a bottle of sparkling water for me, as I was lumbered with the driving duties.

Our table was positioned next to the restaurant’s panoramic windows, which offered views of boats bobbing about on the top of the sea.

“Are you drinking sparkling or tap?” a waitress inquired.

Taken by surprise, my eyes danced between my empty glass and the bottles of tap and sparkling water in front of us. “Er... both,” I responded meekly.

Our reporter ordered crispy lamb belly with a mint mayo to start (48978409)
Our reporter ordered crispy lamb belly with a mint mayo to start (48978409)

“No, which one would you like?”

“Oh, right – sorry,” I uttered, looking to the floor, as she filled my glass. I wasn’t used to that.

Soon enough, our starters arrived. In the same amount of time, they were gone. Mine was succulent lamb belly with a crispy coating served alongside a pot of mint mayonnaise.

As we fell into silence, we noticed the swirl of conversation around us. Fractured sentences fell into our ears before the rest of the diners’ words drifted to other parts of the building. Among the voices was that of a man who harboured a preoccupation with his – and others’ – inheritances.

Another diner nursing a pot belly nearby reclined in his seat, stretching his legs out in front of him and resting his arms above his head. After gulping down the rest of his lager, he made haste.

For his main, our reporter ordered lemon sole, samphire and melted potted shrimp at Rocksalt in Folkestone
For his main, our reporter ordered lemon sole, samphire and melted potted shrimp at Rocksalt in Folkestone

“Who’s ordered the lemon sole?” the waitress asked.

As she placed it in front of me, I could see my main in all its glory. The un-filleted fish lay underneath a layer of samphire and melted potted shrimp, all of which was bathing in a buttery sauce.

“The fish tastes like it’s straight from the sea,” I enthused.

As we scraped our plates clean, we ignored our straining stomachs and turned our attentions to dessert. My eye was drawn to the Kentish Gypsy Tart. The strips of zest and dollop of lemon cream cut through each bite of the fluffy, caramel-tasting sweet.

“That must have been good,” a waitress noted, looking at our empty bowls. Oh, it was.

Jack ordered a Kentish Gypsy Tart for his dessert during his visit to Rocksalt
Jack ordered a Kentish Gypsy Tart for his dessert during his visit to Rocksalt

The meal left us with a £95 hole in our pockets. But as we stepped out into the darkening streets, we were discussing how we’d cobble together the money for our next trip to the restaurant.

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Ratings out of five

Food: The menu was brimming with enticing options. The meals were excellent, varied and each of the dishes arrived promptly. We were also given two complimentary blocks of fudge, which were, like everything else served, lovely. *****

Drink: The Argentinean Malbec went down well with my other half, who enjoyed it so much she promised to order a bottle online. *****

Decor: It is airy and attractively minimalist. Light pours into the restaurant from its panoramic windows, which provide beautiful views of the sea. *****

Staff: All of them were friendly, helpful and approachable. *****

Price: Spending £95 (which included a 12.5% discretionary service charge) on three courses for two people isn't bad value if it is for a special occasion. It is probably too pricey for an impromptu meal out, though. Some of the dishes are also on the dearer end of the spectrum – my main was £30.50 alone. ****

For more news on big brands and good places to enjoy a tasty bite, head to our Eat, Drink, Shop section

To read the Secret Drinker’s pub reviews click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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