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Rocksalt in Folkestone

Rating: 88.
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When I travel to UK by car I always use the Eurotunnel. It is by far the most efficient and quick way to get to the UK from the continent. Travelling by Eurotunnel also means arrival in and departure from Folkestone. And Folkestone happens to be the town were Mark Sargeant, former right-hand man of Gordon Ramsay, opened his own restaurant called Rocksalt last summer. Mark Sargeant is the former head chef of Claridge's in London. In May 2009 Mark resigned from that position and in November 2009 it was announced that he was leaving Gordon Ramsay Holdings. At the time Mark Sargeant had been working alongside Gordon Ramsay for 13 years.

Rocksalt is located in the Folkestone harbour. The restaurant has spectacular views over the harbour and the English Channel, views which you can enjoy from every table in the restaurant. Mark Sargeant also owns a fish and chips shop in this Kentish seaside town called The Smoke House.

Rocksalt is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday and for Sunday lunch. There are separate lunch and dinner menus. Both offer a wide selection of starters, fish, meat and vegetarian mains and puddings, the dinner menu being slightly more extensive. As I was there on a Sunday (22 January) the restaurant offered a 'Sunday lunch' menu which had a selection of traditional Sunday roasts too. Next to the menu 'daily specials' will be on offer.

With our aperitifs we were served some lovely olive bread and delicious taramasalata, which was smooth and creamy. You could tell it was home-made: unlike many shop-bought versions it actually tasted of fish.

My starter was one of the daily specials, Hot shells - prawns, clams, mussels, razor clams with samphire and a shellfish veloute. Lovely perfectly cooked shellfish served with an elegant and buttery shellfish veloute. A well-balanced dish with top-quality seafood and the perfect amount of sauce: the sauce was there to accompany the shellfish not to drown it. The samphire added a nice briny touch. Nicely presented too.

Hubby had the potted crayfish tails with toasted sourdough. Tasty and plumptious crayfish tails. The butter was well-seasoned, loved the hint of mace and nice heat from the cayenne pepper.

As a main I had ordered the roast fish of the day, Baby Dover sole. The fish was well-seasoned and was served with some grilled lemon on the side and that was all this fish needed. A lovely and tasty fish with nice crisp coating.

The other main course was another daily special, Cod with a herb beurre blanc and samphire. Lovely pan-fried cod with the skin on - the skin could have been just that bit crispier. The beurre blanc was delicious, with a perfect hint of acidity and it had a perfect consistency. In fact it was so good that we ordered some extra sauce, which was brought to us in seconds. The samphire was lovely and crunchy and balanced the dish perfectly.

On to the puddings: and proper puddings they were too. Apple, cinnamon and chestnut crumble with vanilla custard. Gorgeous. A fantastic crumble, nice and buttery and what a great way to use chestnuts. Nice soft and tart apples, just the way I like them. Lovely vanilla custard too. The other pudding was Buttermilk panna cotta, poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet. The buttermilk panna cotta was perfect, well set, clean, pure and lovely acidity from the buttermilk. The rhubarb sorbet was nice and smooth, delicious. The poached rhubarb was wonderful, not too sweet and not too soft, the perfect sweet and sour balance. Desserts with rhubarb are often too sweet but not in this case, it reminded me what a amazing vegetable rhubarb is.

Mark Sargeant has created a lovely restaurant in Folkestone. From what I have heard there have been some teething problems but clearly these have been overcome. The food was lovely and so was the service. The food at Rocksalt is unpretentious but honest and elegant. The kitchen turns out well-executed, classicly based dishes and the quality of the local Kentish produce shines through on the plate. The locals seem to have embraced this restaurant too: on the Sunday I had lunch there the place was packed. For me Rocksalt is the perfect pit-stop on my way in and out of the UK. Hope to back soon.

Rocksalt on Urbanspoon

Posted 07-02-2012

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