Tag Archives: pulled pork

Five things to do in Margate

Margate is a typical English seaside town – bustling in summer, quiet in winter. Margate is also one of the world’s top ten must-see destinations. Don’t believe me? Ask The Guardian.

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For that reason, we decided to spend last weekend in Margate to ‘get away from it all’. ‘It all’ being three, torturous, post Christmas days back at work.

So if you’re planning a beach holiday during these chilly months, my round-up below might make you choose Margate over Mauritius. The sensible option in these tough economic times.

1. Eat dinner at The Ambrette

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The Ambrette shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Its country pub exterior, no frills interior and ridiculously reasonable pricing paves the way for beautiful Michelin rated Indian food. Basically, it’s the Cinnamon Kitchen without the fuss.

For £40 a head we ate like kings, enjoying dishes that ranged from scallops, soft shell crab, sea-bream kedgeree and chocolate samosas, to complimentary spicy potato balls, orange granita with popping candy and an aromatic mushroom soup. That, and two bottles of very palatable house white.

The food was inventive and interesting. Each mouthful started with one flavour and ended with another – something that is only accomplished by a very clever chef.

2. Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery 

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Overlooking the sea, this gallery is part of a major regeneration project for Margate, inspired by JMW Turner. Its mirrored exterior reflects the colours of the day, appearing particularly dramatic in winter. Inside it’s full of clean, white rooms, filled with artwork that for us, was selected and painted by American figurative artist Alex Katz.

Painting of woman in red blouse against green hillside

3. Grab a sandwich at The Greedy Cow

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Pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork buns, soups and cakes make up this cafe in the heart of the Old Town (the pretty part of Margate). The friendly staff, quick service and fresh food make The Greedy Cow a perfect place for a quick lunch.

4. Drink tea with The Mad Hatter

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The Mad Hatter tea rooms are like an eccentric version of my grandparents house. The wallpaper, ceilings and carpets are highly patterned, there are black and white photographs all over the walls and trinkets sit on top of every piece of furniture.

The Mad Hatter himself greets every customer, suited and booted in a top hat, braces and well fitted flared trousers. He also makes the delicious cakes, which for us was a light, moist, jam and cream packed Victoria Sponge.

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5. Visit the Shell Lady

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Ann Carrington’s Shell Lady sits at the end of The Harbour Arm (a 19th century stone pier) overlooking the sea. It’s worth saying hello to her whilst you walk along the stretch of sandy beach. After all, she is the only shell lady to endure the winter – the other twelve, delicate figures prefer to wait until the warm summer months.

Bukowski, Brixton Market

If I could pick one word to sum up last week it would be ‘cereal’. Cereal for breakfast (as usual), cereal for lunch (I couldn’t tear myself from my desk), and cereal for dinner (I got home too late to make a proper meal).

Bored of my Alpen existence, I put two fingers up to cereal on Friday night and went for dinner at Bukowski. Clearly a restaurant for carnivores, Bukowski has a menu of burgers, ribs, steak and pulled pork. The pork caught my eye, accompanied by a serving of prawn and crayfish popcorn and fried livers.

The liver was the best of the two. Rich, firm and covered in crisp batter. The popcorn didn’t have the strong fish flavour I’d hoped for, but as usual, that didn’t hold me back.

My pulled Chicano Pulled Pork was tender and juicy, with a delicious hint of orange coming through from the marinade. I was impressed.

The boyfriends Grilled Pork Back Ribs were equally good, coming with a mountain of delicately fried, sweet and crispy onions. He wished for sauce, but I would have been happy with his lot.

I could tell from the silence next to me that DB’s Grilled Beef Short Ribs were going down well, not that I had a chance to try them for myself…

I can’t ignore the chips either. Chunky and fantastically cooked in beef dripping. Chippys take note – this really works.

The bill for food, a few bottles of cider, wine and a couple of ‘spiked’ milkshakes came to £27.50 each with tip. Prices and food I like, so Bukowski gets a LLE rating of 8 / 10.

Bukowski, Unit 10, Market Row, Brixton Market, SW9 8JX (also available in Shoreditch)

The Lido Cafe, Herne Hill

I’ve decided that the only thing fun about flat hunting is discovering new places to eat. So, rather than focus on the stress, worry and general disappointment, I’d rather think about my recent lunch at The Lido Cafe near Herne Hill.

If you haven’t heard of The Lido Cafe, you might share my surprise when you first walk in. In my head, I’d expected to find the usual chaotic scene of a swimming pool cafe – children running around in their costumes as mothers nervously wait for them to slip on the wet floor and start wailing, coupled with a menu of cheap instant coffee, stale carrot cake and something that resembles a panini (perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but you should get my point).

Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong, as the cafe/restaurant/bar is surprisingly calm, only admitting the creme de la creme of well behaved children. What’s more, the room is wonderfully lit up on a sunny day, so for a moment, you can imagine you’re actually on holiday.

There are separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all of which serve seasonable British dishes at a reasonable price (approx. £5-10 starter, £10-15 main, £5 dessert). As we were going to a friend’s birthday dinner in the evening, we both opted for light options, starting with The Boyfriend’s Pulled Pork Bap.

Even though the crunchy homemade coleslaw and thinly shaved pickles made perfect sides, the rich and sweet pulled pork was so tasty that even the bap proved superfluous. I felt a pang of envy when I saw the plate of meaty goodness placed in front of The Boyfriend, but as soon as my colourful Jersey Royal and Wild Garlic Tortilla appeared, that feeling left me and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

Jersey Royals will be in short and expensive supply this year due to the droughts, so any opportunity to eat them should be taken. Being a Jersey girl at heart, I’ve always been a fan of these wonderful potatoes, having enjoyed the crop from my Grandfather’s garden since I can remember. No one can ignore their unique flavour, which really comes through in the Tortilla, delicately laced with garlic and paired brilliantly with a serving of sweet Piquilo Pepper and smoky rocket.

The word that pops into my head when I think of The Lido Cafe is ‘pleasant’. This isn’t meant to be derogatory, as what can be more pleasant than eating fresh tasty food in the sunshine whilst watching people enjoy the pool? So, with that in mind, as a lunch destination I’m giving The Lido Cafe a LLE Rating of 8/10, which would probably alter slightly depending on the weather.

The Lido Cafe, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0PA