Life is rather full on so instead of my planned piece on eating out in Kent which will follow when I have time here’s a short review I wrote after my first visit to the truly excellent Ambrette in Margate earlier in the year.
A bitterly cold day back in February found me in Margate after a visit to my sister’s holiday house in Broadstairs where we had found that a dripping pipe in her newly installed bathroom had brought her living room ceiling down. So we were feeling somewhat stressed. The Ambrette cheered us up no end.
Set in an old pub in the old town, which is slowly re- emerging like a butterfly from a chrysalis, even on a very chilly Tuesday in February the restaurant was full of a happy mix of locals. The rooms are pleasantly decorated – modern English pub feel but with attractive bright highlights from fabrics and accessories. It creates a perfect contemporary marriage of Indian and English, which reflects the approach with the food. The service was friendly and helpful. We can’t wait to go back….
The use of local seasonal ingredients in the well-balanced lunch menu was well thought out, and such a welcome surprise for an Indian restaurant. Local fish of the day which on the day of our visit was whiting, locally raised pork and pheasant all featured – otherwise the use of cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes demonstrated true seasonality. The waiter told us where the fish and pork came from when asked. Obviously with Indian food not all ingredients can be local but what was has been used completely appropriately on the menu, and in a way that also challenged and refreshed the way one thinks of Indian food. Surprising and enticing – perfect!
After a close study of the well balanced and not over long menu, we struggled with our choices as we wanted to try everything. On the end we opted for the local fish and pork dishes and both were excellent – well presented and judiciously spiced, and perfectly judged for lunch as they were not heavy. We were brought little taster dishes between our courses; in particular a piping hot little cup of a chickeny soup with ginger – wonderfully warming yet zingy. Stand out from a really good meal were the beautifully textured pork, the perfectly spiced and cooked whiting fillet, crispy intensely chocolatey samosas for pud, but most of all the lightly spiced, crispy yet melting Jerusalem artichoke chips. I would go back (and will do) just to eat them again.
We ate from the excellent value set three-course lunch menu with a good well balanced choice for all tastes. The evening menu is even more interesting, and makes a really wonderful incentive to visit Margate again.