Places To Eat In Folkestone: Rocksalt

One of the best things about the gradual unlocking is being able to try loads of fantastic new places to eat that have been on my list simply forever, but something I never had time to do before is to re-visit old haunts or re-review places which I think these days is important, because the pandemic has seen so many changes to our dining landscape.

Rocksalt has existed as a little oasis of luxury in Folkestone harbour for years now. With a stunning dining room overlooking the sea it has always been a seafood spot for special occasions, though while I have previously reviewed it I used to avoid it in favour of other spots. The food was always good, but the service could be a little patchy and I always got the feeling it was trying to be something that it was not and had a bit of a habit of being rather alienating for local people. However, there has been a slight change of management recently, so we figured we’d give it another go as it is such a stunning spot for lunch, what if we were now missing out on something?

I’m now happy to report if I want somewhere to go locally for a lovely special occasion (or ladies who lunch!) meal in a stunning dining room Rocksalt is where I now want to go (though I still need to make a booking at their new sister restaurant, Little Rock, down on the beach!) The food was lovely, the wine list was excellent and far ranging (I’ve seen some recently that have been taking the piss somewhat for what they’re charging for local wines) and the service was flawless. Our local pub is owned by the same group and I’ve been bemoaning the new menu and the loss of the daily specials (or at least every time I’ve been in there) which were the best bit, the changes at Rocksalt are nothing but positive! Seriously, go book a table!

I started with a lovely and reasonable glass of Gusbourne’s classic English Sparkling as I was having oysters (a decent £9.50, I’ve seen this at twice that a glass on some menus!) and for the table we got a bottle the cheapest rose on the menu (£25), a very delicious French grenache that we continued to order glasses of once the bottle was gone. Honestly, I appreciate fine wines and they have a great selection by the bottle, but I get so fed up of restaurants that offer special occasion but not luxury price point food but don’t have good wines priced to match.

We had some wonderful, classic seafood restaurant starters. The dressed crab was delicious and beautifully presented, my Pyefleet Pure Oysters were fat, plump, briney and perfectly prepared, and the smoked mackerel pate with Docker Sourdough from the shipping container bakery just around the harbour was delicious and well executed without being too much. As I said, a perfectly executed selection of classic dishes here!

For my main I tried huss, a fish I’d never sampled before (everything on the menu is fresh, British, day boat caught). Sometimes called rock salmon it has a bold, meaty texture and a white flake, and held up beautifully to it’s bold barbecue glaze, cut through with a lovely bright orange, fennel, chilli and herb salad that rather packed a punch!

Not much of a fish eater my father ordered the roast chicken with King oyster mushroom, grilled green onions and a chicken butter sauce he simply raved about. My mother had a fish dish that was in total contrast as mine but just as delicious: an elegant and refined plate of roasted hake with mussel butter sauce on a bed of tenderstem broccoli with slices of pickled carrot. Pretty, light and very, very delicious.

Dessert was a no-brainer for most of us because Rocksalt does the best Gypsy Tart I’ve ever had, it is identical to my mothers recipe (there is one recipe that no one has really changed that comes out of the same local catering college and all the chefs trained there) and because it deflates overnight it is sadly something that can only be made for big crowds. Our counties signature dessert if you’re visiting Kent you need to try a slice: rich, burnt caramel lightness on a crisp pastry crust, here served with a lemon cream. What is there not to love?

However, I do need to say their Coconut, Pistachio & Lime Ice Cream Sandwich is also rather good, a rather whimsical way to finish off the meal.

And with the bill, at any of the restaurant and pubs in the group they always bring delicious fudge with the bill but you’ve got lucky if it is their Gypsy Tart fudge. The perfect end to a really lovely meal!

Honestly, if you’ve never been to Rocksalt, you’ve been but never went back or you’ve been avoiding it up until now (quite a few of you told me this on Instagram when I posted my story of the meal) do go book a table as it is now, honestly, a really lovely place to eat.