By Kerry Law
A mere hour or so from London is a coastal foodie haven that’s well worth a family trip—welcome to Whitstable, or the ‘Whitstabubble’ as the locals have christened it.
This Kentish harbour town is full of cool little shops targeting the urbanites, plenty of quaint tearooms and traditional stores, but what people really come here for is the seafood. And in Whitstable, the star attraction is the wild Whitstable oyster.
We got our oyster fix at the Whitstable Oyster Company—a restaurant in a former oyster store serving up the delicious fruits of the sea. Situated on the beach, you can see exactly where your lunch or dinner has come from as you gaze out to the ocean.
The restaurant is surprisingly child-friendly (for such a ‘grown up’ menu) and staff were more than happy to accommodate four babies/toddlers plus buggies, and parents, on our visit. The kids’ menu is limited to battered fish and chips (albeit a very good, fresh fish and chips, and a sizeable portion too), but that’s okay when the regular menu is so full of yummy seafood, fish and crustacea. We chose a filling lunch from a selection of starters: chargrilled sardines, moules mariniere and potted crab. It’s worth spending the couple of extra pounds for the local Whitstable oysters (over the Irish ones)—served with choices of shallot vinegar or Tabasco and lemon, they were simply delicious!
The main menu also includes dishes such as pan-fried skate with capers, wild seabass with garlic and rosemary, and organic salmon with salsa verde. All food can be washed down with local ales or an English sparkling wine.
Another eaterie welcoming little ones is The Lobster Shack, on the east quay. This restaurant has its own patch of beach and is only accessible via one side of the quay, meaning you can grab a table outside and have plenty of room to let the children explore the beach (while remaining in clear sight!) without streams of passing tourists.
It’s another menu packed with seasonal, local seafood (including some stunning-looking fruit de mer platters) as well as an even bigger range of oysters. We indulged in another half dozen accompanied by some oyster stout from the Whitstable Brewery. The children’s menu includes scampi, cod or chicken with chips, all freshly made and served with salad.
A foodie trip to Whitstable, full of sea air and oysters, can feel almost restorative—a great piece of weekend R&R before heading back west to London.
For more information, visit The Lobster Shack and The Whitstable Oyster Company.