The Turner effect: Make a trip out of the new Turner Contemporary
PUBLISHED: 17:06 29 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013
Keen to see the new Turner Contemporary and make a bit of a trip out of it? Then pop up the road to Cliftonville and enjoy sea views and super service at homely Smith's Court Hotel
Keen to see the new Turner Contemporary and make a bit of a trip out of it? Then pop up the road to Cliftonville and enjoy sea views and super service at homely Smiths Court Hotel
The impact of the Turner Contemporary is already making its presence felt in and around Margate, which is good news for nearby Cliftonville, at the Turner end of town and a short drive or 15-minute walk away.
Accompanied by My Reasonably Senior Mother on my visit to Smiths Court Hotel on the cliffs above Walpole Bay, we didnt put the latter claim to test, but once wed been checked in by the welcoming reception staff we did make the most of a bright and breezy end to a showery day to take a stroll.
Starting at the bandstand opposite, site of award-winning Cliftonville Farmers Market, we headed up the coast to admire the quiet beaches, distant wind farm and a splendid Victorian tidal swimming pool. Returning with appetites sharpened, there was time to enjoy the Turner-esque skies from our front-facing room a large, comfortable en-suite twin that can convert to a double before going down for dinner in the Orangery.
A relatively new addition to the Victorian hotel (created in 2006 from an unused patio area), its an attractive, airy room with soaring windows, sea views, a marble floor and high-backed beech chairs.
The restaurant seats 80 but on a Friday evening was disconcertingly empty, largely due to a wedding that had taken place earlier that day and half the room was still set up for the service, which did give us a glimpse of how a civil ceremony would work in the space.
The menu is short and uncomplicated, with just five starters and six mains and no apparent dish of the day, until I enquired and ended up with two a straightforward crayfish cocktail followed by locally caught cod that was indeed fresh but a tad bland without a sauce.
MRSM had the lemon and dill smoked salmon with beetroot oil dressing, a veritable tower studded with red onion and capers that rather overpowered the fish. Her apricot-stuffed guinea fowl was nicely tender, with tasty sweet potato mash among vegetables, from nearby Nash Farm.
Puddings are simple a strawberry and Prosecco jelly was more childrens party than adult dessert, and a dark chocolate and pistachio tart was on the gooey side of sickly.
Owners Tony and Abbie Burton are passionate about local produce and the restaurant was instrumental in the creation of Cliftonville Farmers Market. Thursday night is fish night, and with such a great choice along this coast youre almost bound to get lucky we were told this summer has seen excellent sea bass, Dover sole and local crabs.
With the Turner drawing in more visitors to the region, the hotel is seeing more overnighters than ever before and the owners, who took over from Abbies parents in February are gradually modernising the place, which is needed in some public areas. The bedrooms (45 standard and executive, many with sea views or balconies) are well appointed while the Orangery is the potential jewel in the crown and we shall watch with interest as the menu develops.
Another major asset is the staff from my subscriber of the month (see page 11) on reception, to the smiley lady who served us our excellent cooked breakfast.
But if you want to see what inspired Turner, just drink in those amazing skies, the dynamic gallery is minutes away and right by it youll find all the temptations of Margate Old Town.
MEET THE CHEF
Daniel Johnson, head chef
Tell us a bit about yourself
I studied catering at Thanet Technical College and have been a qualified chef for 13 years. Ive worked in a variety of places, including the Tower Thistle Hotel at London Bridge and Canterbury Cathedral. Ive been head chef here for two and a half years and its been a bit like returning home.
Your signature dish?
I dont think I really have one, but
my wife says I cook the best mussels in garlic, butter and white wine shes ever tasted so maybe thats it!
Your top cookery tip?
Dont be swayed by brand or appearance when buying knives, you need to find the ones that best suit you. One of the best Ive ever used was a Victorinox knife that cost about 3, it fits my hand perfectly and Ive had it for nearly 10 years and its still going strong!
Your biggest influence?
Adam Bailey, head chef at Canterbury Cathedral. As his sous chef I had the opportunity to develop and become a chef in my own right. I got to cook for many dignitaries, including royalty and the Archbishop himself.
Your must-have gadget?
Our Robot-Coupe food processor and Kitchen-Aid mixer make such easy work of tasks that otherwise take ages.
Whod you like to cook for?
Raymond Blanc I saw him cook steak and chips once and it was so simple but the ingredients were so fresh and pure that the skill was in not over-complicating it.
Smiths Court Hotel Ltd 21-27 Eastern Esplanade Cliftonville, Margate CT9 2HL 01843 222310 firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant open: Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm and 6pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-3pm
Typical prices: Lemon and dill smoked salmon 5.95, tuna steak with Nicoise salad 17.45, cherry and rum bread and butter pudding 5.45