A personal review by Julia O’Dowd.
Where do locals go for good quality dining on a Saturday evening? Other than perhaps the well-established Le Petit Poisson, the choice in Herne Bay up to now has been quite limited and many locals wanting a special evening head for Whitstable or Canterbury. However, the good news is that Herne Bay seems to be attracting some new eateries one of which is the Oyster and Chop House in the High Street.
We visited this new restaurant on a Saturday night. From the outside the restaurant looked welcoming and atmospheric. The décor is simple with exposed brickwork and old floorboards. We were greeted by a charming young lady who showed us to our pre-booked table. The small but ‘well rounded’ menu is on a chalk board on the wall. The evening we dined, the choice included local Monk’s Hill Farm chicken, noisettes of lamb and whole or half lobster ‘cooked anyway you like’. I personally like the concept of a small but well thought out menu as it usually indicates that the chef is choosing quality over quantity ingredients, which we discovered are sourced directly from local farms.
We were offered some complimentary and beautifully presented oysters which my husband said were outstanding (I am not a great lover of oysters). Next came two tasty freshly baked tiny loaves (again complimentary) and straight from the oven. We skipped starters and went for the mains; my husband ordered lobster and I opted for the lamb noisettes.
While waiting we enjoyed a glass of reasonably priced Pinot Grigio Rose and our water glasses were topped up regularly. When the food arrived it was well presented and looked very promising. It did not disappoint; my lamb was cooked perfectly and, according to hubby, the grilled lobster was the best he had tasted for a long time. Both dishes came with a small selection of fresh seasonal vegetables. I was a little surprised to see one tiny lone carrot with my dish but it tasted fab so all was forgiven.
Having forgone starters, we decided on dessert. The earl grey and raspberry panacotta caught my eye while Kent cheeses enticed my husband. The panacotta was very subtly flavoured and came with raspberries and some interesting bubbles which turned out to be made with uncooked beetroot which was surprisingly sweet. The Kent cheeses were a great success as was the chutney which accompanied them.The Chop House is clearly aiming to bring high quality cuisine to the town and is priced accordingly but the quality and presentation of the food made it excellent value for money. This restaurant only opened this month and if things continue the way it has started it will certainly become a regular venue for us. All in all a great addition to the town.