Restaurant review: the Tartar Frigate, Broadstairs
PUBLISHED: 11:20 02 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:20 02 August 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Bring a hearty appetite to this first-floor seafood restaurant above a popular pub right by the seafront
You can’t miss the Tartar Frigate – head down to the harbour in Broadstairs and the prominent 18th-century grey flint building awaits you, Bleak House in the background.
Named after the HMS Tartar, a naval ship built locally, in the 1860s it became the haunt of solders, fishermen and smugglers. In the background stands Bleak House (formally Fort House); out front you get the broad, sandy sweep of Viking Bay.
During Broadstairs Folk week this month (8-15 August, see page 14 and also page 70) the pub is a focal point of the festivities, with live bands during the day and evening and during the summer you can even take your beer on the beach.
Pub it may be downstairs, but upstairs is where you’ll head if you want a bit more than fish and chips and a pint in the bar.
Traditional in decor with half-panelled walls, a busy red patterned carpet, local scenes on the walls and dark brown leather chairs around crisply clothed tables, you’re not really here for the décor, although a bit of modernising one day wouldn’t go amiss.
With its toes practically in the Bay, the Harbour restaurant unsurprisingly specialises in seafood and as well as the extensive à la carte and shorter table d’hôte (two course £14, three for £17) there are daily changing blackboard choices which reflect what’s just come in on the boats.
And what a choice it is – it took me ages to make up my mind and in the end My Dining Chum took charge and went for prawns and monkfish from the printed menu while I dithered over the specials.
Her whole tiger prawns in the lightest tempura batter were some of the best I’ve ever stolen from a mate’s plate, but they were so huge I don’t think she even noticed any were missing. The chilli jam to dip them into provided just the right subtle balance of flavours. A real star turn.
MDC’s roast monkfish was filled with scallops and wrapped in Parma ham to form a delicious, almost meaty main, with sautéed sage on the side making a colourful, unusual and complimentary addition.
To thoroughly test the menus, I decided to choose entirely from the blackboard, starting with expertly seared scallops served with apple salad and crispy pork belly, an unusual but perfectly matched combination and one I thoroughly enjoyed.
To follow I tucked into excellent lemon sole fillets with prawns and a creamy prawn sauce, a light and tasty dish to which our shared side dishes of sauté potatoes, carrots and broccoli added plenty of crisp, crunch and a vibrant splash of colour.
If seafood isn’t for you then there are a few vegetarian and meat alternatives, including duck breast on a sweet potato rosti, steaks and a red onion and tomato tarte tatin.
Lemini Whiteley, the deliciously named restaurant manageress, was on holiday but we were beautifully looked after by Naomi Osborne, who confessed that the extra spring in her step was caused by just getting her degree results an hour before we turned up. I have never met such a smiley waitress before.
She was positively beaming when we chose our puddings (I think she approved) – MDC going for a trip down memory lane with a slice of Kentish gypsy tart that was pure school days (“only so much better”) while my Baileys chocolate crème brûlée was one definitely for the grown ups, with a real boozy kick amid the chocolatey loveliness. Absolutely gorgeous.
We had to reluctantly leave coffee, as my Pegwell Bay local dining chum knew how sharp the parking attendants in Broadstairs are – and it turns out she was quite right to hurry me up the hill. Next time I’ll make sure have more change in my purse – see you at the Broadstairs Festival! n