Hotelier James Thomas and chef Craig Mather, the pair behind the critically acclaimed Empire Room restaurant at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate in Thanet in Kent, have announced a new Supper Club at their Little Ships Restaurant and Café.
Each Sunday and Monday evening, between 5:30pm and 9:30pm, Little Ships will offer three courses for the price of two, at £18.95.
Michelin-trained chef Craig Mather has created a menu with a choice of four starters, six mains and five deserts, with vegetarian, vegan and free-from options.
Dishes include Grilled goat’s cheese, roasted Provençale vegetables, toasted seeds, balsamic and rocket; Barbecued porkchop, green beans, roasted new potatoes, Café de Paris butter; and Great British Victoria sponge sandwich with strawberry ice cream and strawberry jam.
These are cooked quickly at very high temperatures, in the new open kitchen, using a locally-made Harrison charcoal-fuelled oven. Favoured by chefs in several Michelin-starred restaurants, the versatile oven can be employed for differing cooking techniques bringing unique flavours.
At high temperatures of 300+°C, the ‘Maillard reaction’ causes natural sugars in foods to caramelise, creating distinctive flavours. Cooking quickly, the oven retains moisture, producing succulent cuts of meat, fish and vegetables.
Since opening this summer on the former Miles Bar site, the restyled 80-seater venue has proved immensely popular with large numbers of tourists drawn to Ramsgate by hottest summer on record – and improved faster rail links from London.
“Despite the negativity from some locals surrounding the opening of the JD Wetherspoon’s mega pub on the Royal Harbour, we’ve shown that with the right offering, there’s plenty of custom for everyone,” said James Thomas.
At 11,000 square feet, Wetherspoon’s Royal Victoria Pavilion with its 1,500 capacity, is the biggest pub in Europe. The company invested £4.5 million in the building, which had lain derelict for decades, creating 150 local jobs.
Little Ships, which is open all day from 8:30am, seven days a week, offers a casual dining concept showcasing the best quality local, seasonal produce. Although most of the ingredients are sourced from nearby Kent farms and artisan producers, Chef Craig also regards Belgium and Northern France as being local.
“Summer has been incredibly busy – we had to recruit more people and give staff extra shifts to cope,” reported Mather. “Now Autumn has arrived and things have calmed down, we can focus on a more intimate offering for our regular local customers – hence the new Supper Club, which brings high quality and great value to an area where most other local restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday evenings.”
Thomas and Mather have ambitions to rollout the concept, once refined, in other locations along the coast. Margate, Folkstone, Dover and Brighton are targets.
With stunning views over the Royal Harbour, Little Ships Restaurant and Café takes its name from the armada of ‘Little Ships’ who set sail from Ramsgate during the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940. Open 7 days a week, it offers an all-day dining and café menu which specialises in fish and local produce from Kent farms. Many vegan and vegetarian options available. Enjoy coffee and drinks overlooking the marina. Dog friendly
The stylish Empire Room restaurant is decorated with warm red walls and furnished with Victorian and Georgian wooden tables and chairs, linen napkins, Georgian style wine glasses, original Empire magazine covers on the walls and history books on library shelves with stone and wooden floors. It is heated in winter by a wood burning fire.
The Royal Harbour Hotel is a quirky 27-bedroom townhouse hotel that stands on a picturesque Georgian crescent with views of the harbour and beyond. Its coastal-inspired rooms, individually styled with antiques and period furnishings, come with smart TVs, free WiFi, and tea and coffee making facilities. Upgraded rooms have 4-poster beds, sea-view balconies and Nespresso machines, while suites also feature living areas with fireplaces.
The hotel is rated highly on TripAdvisor; it has ‘Hall of Fame’ status for having won their Certificate of Excellence five years in a row. Three homely sitting rooms feature stripped floors, armchairs, crackling fires and an honesty bar. Furnishings include a roll-top desk, a large collection of beautiful art spread throughout the building, gramophone player with an extensive collection of vinyl records and library. Herbs for The Empire Room restaurant are grown in the courtyard garden.
Double rooms start at £90 a night with a full cooked breakfast and evening cheese board included. Public areas include 3 sitting rooms with fireplaces and honesty bas, plus a walled garden at the rear. There is free on-street parking plus a small private, off-street car park.