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Eat My Words: We review Po’boy – The Creole Fish Hut on Margate’s Sun Deck

Remember when going to the seaside meant a fast food choice of either fish and chips or an ice cream?

You shoved 10p coins in the arcade machines, went on a donkey ride, had a paddle in the sea with your trousers rolled up to your knees and, in an era before we all started watching our sugar intake, could wash it all down with a candy floss.

Po'boy - the Creole Fish Hut - is about 10 yards away from The Bus Cafe on Margate seafront
Po'boy - the Creole Fish Hut - is about 10 yards away from The Bus Cafe on Margate seafront

Simpler times.

As part of the day out ‘experience’ today, more and more of us want to visit places where the food line-up is as magnificent as the coastline.

Say what you like about Whitstable, its modern day revival was built around shouting about its fish restaurant. Suddenly it was a foodie destination and all its other charms became apparent as the diners tried to work off one oyster too many with a stroll around the town and along its shingle shores.

Margate lived in its shadow for a while – trading forlonly on past glories – until the Turner Contemporary put it back on the map and actually did what it set out to do. Namely use art as a catalyst for regeneration.

Today, the Thanet resort is a remarkable place with an array of attractions and, for our Eat My Words purposes, positively awash with food and drink outlets.

Seating is all outside – albeit with some protection - and on a nice day it's hard to beat
Seating is all outside – albeit with some protection - and on a nice day it's hard to beat

And while much of the focus is on the Old Town, we find ourselves on a warm but overcast day at the opposite end of its Main Sands.

Sat between the Nayland Rock Hotel and sea shelter are a strip of outlets which would look more at home on a Carribean seafront. If, of course, you ignore the double-decker bus which doubles up as a (fabulous) cafe, parked next to them.

They together form what is known as the Sun Deck on the rather grandly named Royal Crescent Promenade and if street food-style tickles your fancy it’s worth the short stroll from the station or beach to explore.

Shut during the chillier winter months, these outlets are now back in business and on a summer’s day are generating a lively and friendly atmosphere. Taking a seat on the decking, overlooking the sea, if you ignored the fact you were on Margate seafront, if does feel like you’re on holiday. Worth it for that alone.

We are perched on a stout wooden table outside Po’boy – the Creole Fish Hut. There’s no inside seating and orders are taken – and despatched – through a serving window, outside of which a modest queue has formed.

Fish and chips with a creole twist...and very tasty it was too (apparently)
Fish and chips with a creole twist...and very tasty it was too (apparently)

A po’boy for those not aware (and I wasn’t until I consulted with Mr Wikipedia) is effectively a big fat meat or shellfish sandwich which originates in Louisiana. I’d never heard of it before but what’s not to like about a jumbo sarnie?

I opt for mine to be crammed with panko (breadcrumb battered) king prawns and of the ‘Samurai’ variety – which gives it all a bit of a South East Asia twist. It comes with a soy and ginger slaw, sriracha mayo, pink pickles, spring onions and sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can go for the Lousianan which is probably a tad more authentic as it comes with maple-mustard slaw, cajun spice and jalapenos. Fortunately – given I’m a bit scared of the heat punch jalapenos can pack – others in my party opt for this one.

You have a choice of what it’s served with – either loaded fries, salad or a simple po’boy (or bun to you and me). The bun it is. It costs £11.

There’s also a side dish of fried pickles (gherkins in a cajun spiced panko) – which one of us opts for – for an additional £6.

Be fair...this po'boy does look jolly good doesn't it?
Be fair...this po'boy does look jolly good doesn't it?

As I take my little buzzer back to my seat (it will, I’m assured, vibrate when it’s ready to be collected), I must admit I ponder that £11 is quite a bit of cash for a sandwich.

After waiting a handful of minutes, the buzzer buzzes and I trot up and grab my tray of po’boy.

It should be said, at this point, that other options are availabe. There is, for example, fish and chips – with the option of a creole variation (£13.50) which, fortunately, one of my dining party opts for.

Firstly, the po’boy is big...and not just big because all the filling is on the outside. It’s deeply filled. There’s to be none of that ‘the second mouthful was just bun’ business here. It also looks incredible.

This multi-coloured, multi-faceted top layer seems to be rather en vogue at the moment. The big question was did it taste as good as it looked?

There's plenty of filling in these sandwiches, er, I mean po'boys
There's plenty of filling in these sandwiches, er, I mean po'boys

The answer is a resounding yes. First up, there were plenty of prawns which could all lay claim to the description of “juicy and delicious”. The fact you could taste them despite all the other flavours playing a merry dance on your tongue suggests some considerable thought has gone into this.

The blend of toppings showcased rather than overwhelmed them; the pickled ginger giving that subtle kick, the sriracha mayo a gentle warmth, the spring onion that zing.

In short, it was a success.

I like to think a sandwich doesn’t take long when placed in front of me, but crikey, this took some effort to finish off. But for you, dear reader, I’m happy to struggle through. De-ruddy-licious.

I pinched a fried pickle and can vouch for them too. Although, I would say, £6 was a little steep. But that’s a small moan.

Po'boy with the Louisianan trim - and a side portion of fried pickles
Po'boy with the Louisianan trim - and a side portion of fried pickles

All other dishes get a thumbs up.

Often when you try something different it goes in the ‘very nice and I’m glad I tried it but I probably won’t bother again next time’ category. This, on the other hand, I would be only too happy to repeat.

Our reviewer gets ready to tuck in
Our reviewer gets ready to tuck in

All of which makes this – easy to overlook – stretch of Margate seafront a place worth visiting next time you’re there. Get good weather, and you’ll not be disappointed.

Out of five:

Food: Generous portions, interesting flavours, decent dollop of juicy tasty prawns. I’m fully sold. *****

Drink: Perhaps I’m just naturally tight, but for some reason I rarely add to the price of my bill at fast food places with a drink. I’m sure what they had was nice but I didn’t splash out. There’s a bar next door though so fill your boots. ***

Decor: This is al fresco dining and if the sun is out, it really does transport you to a holiday-like environment. It shares the seating with other outlets on either side but is none the worse for it. Lovely. *****

Staff: Friendly, efficient, but then you’re only expecting them to take your order and get your buzzer to go off. But food was quickly prepared and looked amazing. ****

Price: £11 for a sandwich, you might think to yourself? Well, give it a go first and you may reconsider any doubts. Good quality food at a good price. ****

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