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Review: Pearson's Arms pub, Whitstable

PUBLISHED: 15:36 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 22 July 2019

Scallops from Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)

Scallops from Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)


Kent Life enjoys a fishy feast by the sea in Whitstable at foodie pub Pearson's Arms

Remember to factor in lots of extra time if you're driving in to Whitstable - the little seaside town is as popular as ever and parking is notoriously tricky.

But it's always worth it and if you love the smell of the sea in your nostrils and a hearty lunch by the beach, you've come to the right place. My Blonde Mate and I were headed for Pearson's Arms; a tad unremarkable on the outside, inside is a different scene.

Two bars divided by a central chimney were cheerfully bustling on a summer Friday, with the cushioned settles, captain's chairs and leather armchairs bagged by happy lunchers (we noted an excellent bar menu chalked up on the blackboard) and drinkers. To the rear there's an inviting lower snug with a bookcase mural.

We headed up wide wooden stairs (oars are the handrail) to the quieter 50-seater restaurant. Here there's more stripped-wood flooring, driftwood walls, rustic tables and a nicely bohemian vibe.

The upstairs pub restaurant is full of rustic charm (photo: Key and Quill)The upstairs pub restaurant is full of rustic charm (photo: Key and Quill)

Seated with a sideways view to the pebbly beach, we were both drawn to the seafood offerings on the lunchtime menu, which bears the distinct hallmark of owner Richard Phillips of Thackerays fame. Young James Drake heads the kitchen team and supervisor Ian Davidson looked after us.

Seasonality is the key here, whether you go for a dish from the blackboard (perhaps grilled sardines, then the spiced pulled pork) or from the printed menu.

Ian recommended we start with a couple of 'British small plates,' so MBM opted for a favourite, mini fish cakes, and added a black pudding scotch egg. 'Mini' neither dishes were, so do bear that in mind, and sadly the fish cakes were disappointingly bland and seemingly devoid of anything remotely fishy. The scotch egg, however, was surprisingly light and extra-delicious with the home-made piccalilli on the side.

Food at Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)Food at Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)

My choice was hand-dived scallops, presented 'old-skool' style baked in their shell. Deliciously meaty, they had to work hard to rise above a very salty bed of samphire, but the ginger cream sauce helped a treat.

Mains were a triumph. MBM's fish pie was bursting with proper chunks of white fish and salmon (though not a prawn in sight) topped by an indulgent cheesy mash. Buttered tender-stem broccoli added bite and colour.

And I loved my poached local lobster, artfully presented on a tangle of linguine, with a centre-plate stripe of fragrant, cumin-infused bisque.

Sea view in the Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)Sea view in the Pearson's Arms (photo: Key and Quill)

Pausing to sip our delicate, lemony Picpoul, we did falter at the throught of pudding, but somehow our two spoons made impressive inroads on an Eton Mess with fresh mint and berries and a strawberry and vanilla ice cream parfait with elderflower gel.

We liked the imaginative children's menu (spaghetti with meatballs, toad in the hole) and next time we'll be back to sample a music night (Tuesdays it's free live and local bands and Friday sees DJ-led tunes).

The essentials

What: Seaside pub with bar food and upstairs restaurant

Where: Pearson's Arms, Whitstable CT5 1BT, 01227 773133,

When: Lunch Mon-Sat 12pm to 3.00pm, Sun 12pm to 6pm; dinner Tue-Sat 5.30pm to 9.30pm; bar food served throughout kitchen opening times and Mon from 5.30pm

How much: scallops baked in the shell £12, fish pie £15, lobster linguine £28, Eton Mess £8; children's menu available

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