Published: 14:48, 08 October 2019
| Updated: 14:49, 08 October 2019
Owners of an unassuming Kent restaurant are in celebratory mood after being awarded a much-sought-after Michelin star for the first time.
Having opened less than three years ago, husband and wife team Ben and Sophie Crittenden have developed Broadstairs eatery Stark into one of the county's finest dining experiences.
The tiny Oscar Road restaurant - named after the Stark family in Game of Thrones - has built up a glowing reputation to make it Kent's top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.
Now, following yesterday's announcement ceremony at the Hurlingham Club in London, the couple have another string to their bow in the form of a Michelin star.
Catering for just 10 people at a time, diners - who must pre-book - pay £60 per person for six mystery courses from a set menu.
With its humble exterior, passers-by could be forgiven for not noticing the small restaurant - which is now one of three Kent restaurants to boast a Michelin star.
Mother-of-two Sophie, who launched Stark with Ben in December 2016, said: "We're so pleased to have been recognised - it makes it feel more worthwhile.
"When starting out we just wanted to find a small site which made the costs doable.
"All we ever wanted was to have a greater work and life balance as Ben worked previously non-stop. With smaller opening hours we can also have more of a family life."
The 30-year-old added: "We have a set menu of six courses. Due to the size of the restaurant, storage space is limited and we can't hold other ingredients.
"So we have the same menu for everyone and we don't publish it beforehand.
"People like not knowing what they are going to get - there's a real surprise to it.
"After eating, people may say they would never have chosen the food had they seen the menu - so they are trying new things."
Since earning the coveted prize yesterday, bookings at the small restaurant - which is open in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday - have soared.
The menu - which can include the likes of mackerel, gooseberry and cucumber, or pistachio, goats curd and grape - usually changes weekly but it can alter on a daily basis depending on deliveries.
On naming the eatery, Sophie said: "We happened to be watching Game of Thrones at the time and we thought it would be a clear, one-syllable word that is stripped back and simplistic."
The website description calls on diners to trust in the mystery menu.
It says: "Stark is a very intimate, relaxed restaurant, whose only demand of you is that you sit back, trust us with your dinner and enjoy the experience."