Kent pub of the month - August
PUBLISHED: 09:30 20 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 February 2013
A newcomer on the Whitstable scene, Pearson's Arms by Richard Phillips is more than just a great community pub, it's got all the hallmarks of quality shared by his trio of renowned restaurants
Pearsons Arms, Whistable
Richard Phillips has done it again. Not content with an empire that includes Thackerays, Hengist and his eponymous restaurant at Chapel Down, the Kent celebrity chef has turned his attention to the coast and transformed an old 16th-century pub in Whitstable into a must-go dining destination.
Entrance is into a welcoming bar with a cosy snug area at a lower level and stairs up to the softly lit restaurant on the top floor (note the oars as handrails as you climb).
Here dove grey paintwork is offset by a couple of dramatically papered walls, theres an eclectic mix of pine and oak tables and you sit on pew seat chairs with space for your prayer book.
Oak floorboards, driftwood planks on the walls (hung with rather nice pictures of chickens), a big Turkish rug and wild flowers in a simple vase on your table complete the scene and if youre lucky, youll get a window seat looking out to sea.
My Blonde Mate and I settled down to study the menu (presented in its own wooden case its all in the detail) with much anticipation.
From a choice of six starters (including fresh rock oysters), she picked the yummy scallops cunningly baked in their shell with fresh ginger and a spaghetti of vegetables while my dressed crab, served with lemon in a little muslin bag, celeriac remoulade and dill toast, was simply the best Ive tasted.
To follow theres everything from shepherds pie with Tenterden creamed potatoes and Gadds beer-battered cod to the choice we kept on returning to - the roast rib of 28-day hung beef (for two).
Neither of us could remember the last time wed cooked let alone eaten roast beef, so in the end we took the plunge and were rewarded by a huge wooden platter of beautifully cooked meat atop garlic-scented woodland mushrooms and spinach, with grilled tomatoes and Kentish blue cheese Dauphinoise (a tad bland, but the only minor blip and a jug of rich red wine sauce on the side.
Even we couldnt finish it all, but we made pretty impressive inroads and were fortunately diverted while we digested by our young waiter-poet Lee Walsh, who gave us a faultless delivery of a poem hed written for his mum. All this and poetry too!
Suitably recovered, MBM enjoyed chocolate terrine with the lightest mousse-like texture and accompanied by honeycomb ice cream and caramel sauce (heaven) while I loved my variation on an old classic sherry trifle served in an elegant long-stemmed glass, but made with marinated local cherries.
Service by the young, smart waiting staff is impeccable, the food divine and the setting original and appealing. I urge you to visit.
Head chef: Cameron Maclean
Tell us a bit about you
I trained as a chef in Australia then emigrated to London 10 years ago from Sydney, working at the Oxo Tower until my family and I moved out to Canterbury last year. I got involved with Pearson's Arms just before we launched in December 2010.
Whats your signature dish?
The fish pie with Kentish Cheddar and a quails egg, its filled with cod, smoked haddock, salmon, scallops and prawns and is by far the best fish pie I've had on any menu anywhere.
Who has influenced you most?
My Dad, an ex-chef himself. He taught me that cooking for others is such a blessing, and that happy punters make for a happy chef.
We ate dinner for two
Dressed crab with celeriac remoulade, 7.75
Scallops baked in their shell with ginger cream sauce 7.95
Roast rib of beef (for 2), 34
Local cherry trifle with Sherry, 6.25
Chocolate terrine with honeycomb ice cream, 6.25
GET IN TOUCH
Whitstable CT5 1AF
01227 272 005
Open: lunch 12pm-3pm (Tue-Sat), dinner 6.30pm-10pm (Wed-Sat), Sun lunch 12pm-6pm. Closed Mon for food.