Sustainability and simplicity are on the menu at this Margate seafront restaurant. Emma Lake pays a visit
Margate is enjoying a renaissance, with visitors flocking to what is claimed to be England’s oldest seaside resort for sand, culture and a touch of nostalgia. And another attraction drawing visitors to the Kent coastline is Angela’s seafood restaurant.
Recent months have seen The Mail on Sunday’s Tom Parker Bowles describing the Dover sole as “perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten”, and the Financial Times’ Nicholas Lander extoll “simple but outstanding main courses”.
The 26-cover restaurant is situated just off the seafront in the Old Town, with window seats offering a vista of the seafront. It was opened in November 2017 by owners Lee Coad and Charlotte Forsdike, as well as chef Rob Cooper.
The menu is displayed on blackboards hanging from the walls of the restaurant and dishes can change several times a day. Cooper explains: “It’s about getting fresh fish, and if we can’t serve something because we’ve sold out, that’s fine. For us, that’s what sustainability is about. It’s letting the produce dictate the menu rather than the chef. We’re not frightened of brushing anything off mid-service.”
Seafood is sourced from the south coast through a supplier in Hastings who has a sustainable day-boat fleet certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Coad explains: “It’s about getting fish from the right places; fish that is caught in the right way and is on the sustainable fish list, so we know there’s enough stock. The supplier in Hastings was the closest using MSC-certified boats.”
Once the fish has arrived at Angela’s, Cooper looks to “strip everything back” – something that is as much a mantra as a necessity in a small kitchen that contains a couple of plug-in induction hobs, a blender and a bespoke charcoal-fired oven.
He explains: “We just focus on a great-looking piece of fish, cooked properly and a lovely sauce. Across the menu we try to have a couple of things on the bone and a couple of fillets. In a group you’re likely to have one person who’s fish mad, some who like it and one who’s less sure, so we’ve always got something like a fillet of bass with asparagus to ease people in. We want people to enjoy themselves in a lovely restaurant – it’s not all about being a temple of food.”
As well as ensuring the offering is accessible, the team is keen to showcase lesser-used fish and cuts, such as ray knobs, known as the poor man’s scallop, which have become something of a signature dish, served on The Caterer’s visit with a tartare sauce made with local rapeseed oil.
Sauces are for the most part classically rooted, such as bisques, veloutés or hollandaise. Cooper adds that the restaurant is “just trying to be really unpretentious”, showcasing the best of the area, an approach which has also seen Kentish dry cider replace white wine in sauces.
This extends to garnishes, too: “It’s driven by what’s grown around us seasonally. In this part of Kent there are great little farms we use – three of them strictly organic.”
The restaurant also has a strong relationship with the vineyards supplying its largely English wine list. Coad say: “I’ve been to every vineyard we stock. Luckily, English wine works perfectly with seafood – if this were a steak restaurant I probably wouldn’t be able to do this – but that clean, crisp acidity that you get with cold weather grapes goes perfectly.”
Sustainability extends across the restaurant, where tabletops are made from recycled plastic bags and the team works with suppliers to keep packaging to a minimum. Where plastic-free packaging cannot be located, workarounds are sought, including replacing anchovies with sardines, which the restaurant pickles and cures in oil itself.
Coad adds: “The approach has always had sustainability at its forefront. But a restaurant is about people coming and having a good time; it is not about us pushing it in their face – we do this because we believe in it.”
Angela’s has recently opened sister site Dory’s just a minute’s walk away, which serves a predominantly cold menu of small plates, further adding to the growing food scene in the seaside resort. Cooper adds: “If you’ve got great fish, it sings for itself. You just have to make sure your timings are right. We’ve got a good view of the sea, nice front of house and great English wines, so we just need to not cock up the food.”
From the menu
• Whitstable rock oysters £2.80 each
• Scallops, broccoli and almonds £10
• Ray knobs with tartare £7.50
• Crab on toast £7
• Beetroot, hazelnut and crème fraîche £6.50
• Bass, asparagus and wild garlic £18
• Hake, celeriac and brown shrimps £16
• Lemon sole, lemon and thyme £22
• Barbecued ray and aïoli £16
• Turbot on the bone with hollandaise £20
• Roasted squash with green sauce £12
• English trifle £6.50
• Rhubarb and custard £7
• Dark chocolate cream and hazelnut biscuits £8
• Wilde’s Rebellion cheese, chutney £8
Angela’s, 21 The Parade, Margate CT9 1EX