Published: 06:00, 24 June 2021
| Updated: 06:36, 24 June 2021
Opposite a Tesco Metro and Iceland is Kent’s best restaurant. Or that’s what Tripadvisor would have you believe.
Please Sir! sits atop the website’s leader board, above the likes of Stark, Thanet’s only Michelin-starred eatery, and the avant-garde Red Lion near Canterbury.
Admittedly, none of the users dishing out the Broadstairs restaurant’s five-star ratings claim it's better than the others – but its burgers were described as “unforgettable” and the county’s best.
Of its 111 Tripadvisor reviews, 108 gave it full marks, while the remainder gave it four stars out of five.
The restaurant has generated incredible momentum over the nine months since its launch last September.
And so there I was, standing outside the High Street premises, hoping to have my socks blown off.
Shortly after entering I was presented with the menu. “They’re a bit small,” one of the members of staff smiled. “Hope your eyesight’s good.”
No longer than the palm of my hand, the card felt as if it would be blown into the distance by the slightest of breezes. On it, were the restaurant’s nine burgers, each with names like “Mighty” and “Limitless”.
Once our orders were made, my wife and I took in our surroundings. The space was filled with the sounds of sizzling meat, chatter and laughter pouring through from the kitchen behind, while '80s tracks streamed out of speakers nearby.
The bustle was frequently interrupted by the phone ringing, before affable staff members jotted down orders. This tended to be followed by delivery drivers shuffling in and out.
“Mate, that house is horrendous,” one winced, returning from a job. “Like something's died in it.
“They had the lift open and I got whacked in the face with the smell.”
Our table was one of just two inside. To my right, a pristine arcade machine was positioned next to a highchair and a guitar propped up against the wall. A young couple sat to my left under a cloud of silence as each of their attempts at small talk fell flat.
"ARGH!" came a yell from the kitchen, shortly before another cook broke out into song. “Shake-shake-shake... Shake your booty...”
Our food arrived. Served in separate takeaway containers were our “Smash” and “Unbelievable” burgers, along with a large portion of Cajun fries to share. For the following 15 minutes, we sat in near silence gorging on our meals.
As I crammed mouthfuls of burger down my throat, ketchup and American mustard seeped out onto my fingers. Beneath the dollops of sauce were salty strips of bacon, succulent steak patties, thick, tart gherkins and cheese. Lovely.
It even looked like the advertising picture plastered on the front of the restaurant. I'm more used to being served burgers that look like they had been thrown together than those in glossy images.
“What’s your name?” a waiter inquired as he took another order on the phone, his voice ringing through the room. “Wait, you know who this is? It’s me!
“How are you doing, man? You on Facebook? Yeah, definitely, we should.”
Then, I moved onto the chips. Each of them was tinged with red and had a sprinkling of herbs. I shovelled them into my mouth – failing to pause for breath – until I was reduced to intermittent sniffs. Again, it was delicious.
As I leaned back into my seat, staring at the empty containers, I turned my gaze to my other half’s Oreo milkshake. I was allowed two sips of the drink, following animated negotiations. They left me regretting my choice of mineral water.
The bill came to just £22 – a steal when compared to the prices of some of better-known chains such as Five Guys, Byron Burger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. And undoubtedly a superior taste too.
But had we gone to the best restaurant in the county? I doubt it.
Its position at the top of the Tripadvisor table exposes the flaws behind the website’s rating system and those like it.
The restaurants offering meals containing obscure ingredients or unusual flavours are more likely to divide punters - and be slapped with negative reviews - than those offering familiar favourites.
Nonetheless, we left full and contented. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal.
Ratings out of five
Food: The burgers and chips were excellent and arrived promptly. Meanwhile, the menu was filled with a number of appetising options which all seemed worth a try. *****
Drink: The milkshake was done well, and there were plenty of options to choose from. ****
Decor: It was attractively decked with wood, with original Victorian tiles decorating one of the walls. The arcade machine tucked away in the corner seemed a little odd, though. ****
Staff: All of them were warm, good-humoured and approachable. *****
Price: Please Sir! represents better value than the likes of Five Guys, Byron Burger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. *****