One of the reasons I love getting out of London on some weekends is to try to find nice restaurants in the countryside, where your taste buds get challenged and the crowd is different to the usual glitzy one in London.
Rocksalt in Folkestone was opened by Mark Sargent, a very talented British chef (he was actually born and raised in Kent) who used to work at various Gordon Ramsey‘s restaurants, including a seven year old stint at Ramsey’s Claridge’s restaurant.
The restaurant is located in the harbour, close to the promenade and the area seems to be going through the process of development and rejuvenation. The restaurant itself is light and airy, with huge windows overlooking the harbour, beautiful wooden staircase and nice touches everywhere, be it fresh, vividly coloured flowers, tiles in the bathrooms, unusual chandelier or pictures on the walls as you take the stairs to the second floor-I also like the framed window that looks directly into the kitchen.
You can sit outside, as some of the people did when we arrived-the day was breezy but then the sun came out and it almost felt like summer was here again or inside-the tables are spacious and the chairs comfortable. You can also grab a drink at the bar upstairs, if you have to wait for your table or just catch up on reading the weekend papers.
The staff’s uniform of crisp blue shirts, beige pants and small aprons tied around the waist and going down mid-thigh is smart and works for both boys and girls.
We were shown to our table straight away and were given the opportunity to order drinks before starting to read the menus. The menu had a variety of starters (five), not including the specials, mains (six) and desserts (five). I thought that the staff was very enthusiastic, which made up for the fact that on occasion they didn’t know the details of the dishes-they did go away to the kitchen to double check and from then on we were on course.
I started with ‘Potted crayfish tails‘ that was absolutely delicious-very fresh and bursting with flavour and cumin gave a really great kick to the sauce. I then had ‘Monks Hill pork belly with apple’ that I though was very inventive, as I have tried pork belly at many places before, this was certainly on of the best in terms of execution. In dishes like that you often get lots of pork fat and not too much meat, yet this one was perfectly cooked and with not too much fat and plenty of meat. The apple was beautifully cooked and the caramel didn’t overpower the dishes. Other favorite on the menu was ‘Rump of salt marsh lamb’ with the meat perfectly cooked-we did ask for it to be well done but it was still juicy and full of flavour. For dessert I went for ‘Cinnamon pannacotta with poached plum’-again, a beautiful dish, but the biscuit at the bottom seemed to be slightly out of place on my palate, so I just left it.
I have to say that our starters arrived fairly quickly, yet our main course took a bit longer than expected but we kind of didn’t mind too much, as it was great looking outside at the dancing moves of the seagulls, people coming in and out-everyone made an effort to dress on a Sunday but it was nicely relaxed, not overdone and that was so interesting to observe-elderly gentlemen in suits, women with kids in summer dresses and a younger crowd in jeans and opened necked shirts.
I also liked the fact that some of the staff were very proud to be there, to answer questions and to work the room-when you have such enthusiasm, you forgive small faults or longer waiting time. It’s enjoyable to savour every bite of the food that is locally sourced and actually not be overwhelmed with too many ingredients. A definite place to return!
p.s if you are there for a lazy stroll, there is a fish and chip place run by the same team and I heard that their salt and pepper squid in beyond delicious!