Dinner by the Kentish Harbour in the UK

Just 90 minutes from Central London you’ll find the Royal Harbour Hotel Ramsgate.

‘The hotel is a delightfully quirky 27-bedroom townhouse hotel that stands on a beautiful Georgian crescent with magnificent views of the harbour and sea’.

Travelling gourmand Sindy Chan recently dined in the hotel’s award-winning Empire Room restaurant and shares her foodie experience with Gourmet News…

Sindy Chan chansindy.cd@gmail.com

Images Courtesy of Troy Nam

The Empire Room Restaurant Royal Harbour Hotel
The Empire Room Restaurant
Royal Harbour Hotel

The Empire Room menu offers extensive choices – smoke eel, king prawn, salmon, Chorizo Scotch egg, Dover sole, seabass, hake, lamb and beef. I chose Kentish roasted pork belly.

Though considered to be a relatively cheap cut, slowly-roasted rindless pork belly yields beautiful soft flesh with crisp crackling is irresistibly sumptuous.

Kentish Roasted Pork Belly
Kentish Roasted Pork Belly

British classic, Chinese delicacy

Chef Craig Mather prepared my pork belly as an English classic dish but I tasted it as an Oriental dish – sweet and sour apple puree reminded me of Chinese plum sauce, and char grilled spring onion is nostalgic Oriental ingredient.

Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup
Hand-cut triple cooked chips, roasted carrots with thyme & garlic
Hand-cut triple cooked chips, roasted carrots with thyme & garlic

The light sweet roasted Kentish Victoria plums with nougat ice cream, warm caramel sauce & toasted almonds, delivered a savoury experience of south England. Indulged in the aromatic cup of fine coffee at the hotel’s harbour view lounge before retiring for a mid-summer night dream.

Not to miss complimentary cheese board being offered to hotel staying guest at 10 pm every evening.

Roasted Kentish Victoria Plums
Roasted Kentish Victoria Plums
A fine coffee at the hotel's harbour view guest lounge
A fine coffee at the hotel’s harbour view guest lounge


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Ramsgate Royal Harbour

Ramsgate of County Kent is 2 hours by South Eastern train from London Victoria.

In 1820, when King George IV set off from Ramsgate with the Royal Squadron en route to Hanover, he was so impressed by the hospitality he received at the Kent port that he decreed it be declared a Royal Harbour – making Ramsgate the only Royal Harbour in the UK.

Evening at Ramsgate Harbour
Evening at Ramsgate Harbour

A Londoner in Kent

When James Thomas passed Ramsgate harbour on a sail with his father some twenty years ago, he resonated with King George IV and fell in love with the coastal town. Riding on his background in hospitality sales and marketing, Thomas purchased a small bed & breakfast on Number 10-12 Nelson Crescent, now the 2-star Royal Harbour Hotel Ramsgate.

The hotel’s latest addition of house Number 14 was residence of English novelist Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889) sometime in the 1870’s.

In July 2016, Thomas teamed up with Chef Craig Mather, a Michelin-trained chef, restaurant owner and culinary school lecturer, to open Royal Harbour Hotel’s Empire Room Restaurant. Thomas and Mather created menus featuring local Kentish seasonal produce in simple cooking to allow quality of the ingredients to thrive on every plate.

James Thomas - a Londoner in Kent
James Thomas – a Londoner in Kent
The Royal Harbour Hotel Ramsgate
The Royal Harbour Hotel Ramsgate

 Van Gogh in Ramsgate

Few people know that Van Gogh made two drawings “View of Royal Road, Ramsgate”. 

Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890) lived in Ramsgate briefly between April 16 and June 23, 1876. William Port Stokes offered him a job as an assistant teacher at a Ramsgate boys’ school in exchange for room and board but no salary. The school housed 24 boys between the age of 10 and 14. Van Gogh taught French and German and helped to look after the boys outside school hours. He frequently took the pupils to the beach and once built a sand castle with them.

While staying at Royal Harbour Hotel, we visited original building of Stokes school and Van Gogh’s quarter on Spencer Square.

Stokes School and Van Gogh's Living Quarters
Stokes School and
Van Gogh’s Living Quarters
Perspective of Van Gogh's 'View of Royal Road Ramsgate'
Perspective of Van Gogh’s ‘View of Royal Road Ramsgate’

Augustus Pugin

Perhaps the Big Ben in London stopped chiming reminded people of Pugin the designer.

Augustus Pugin (1812 – 1852), renowned architect and designer of the interiors of the Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben, came to Ramsgate in 1843, He built St Augustine’s Church, to live out his ideal of life in the Middle Ages in a family home nestling in the shadow of a benevolent monastery next door, completed by his son Edward and still thriving today.

Pugin died in 1852, in his house The Grange, (now a Landmark Trust property available for guided tour and holiday accommodation rental) his wife Jane and other family members are buried below the floor of the chantry in St Augustine’s Abbey.

The Grange - now a Landmark Trust property
The Grange – now a
Landmark Trust property

Ramsgate Tunnel

Ramsgate Tunnel is a hidden underground city, the largest and only known Civilian Deep Shelter Air Raid Precaution scheme authorised by Central Government.

Ramsgate Mayor Arthur Kempe who in 1939 engaged local engineer and surveyor, R. D Brimmell, to plan and build a huge underground shelter that would protect the townsfolk of Ramsgate during wartime bombing raids.

Brimmell built a three-mile network of tunnels underneath the town with public entrances located all over Ramsgate, providing shelter for up to 60,000 people. When the war did break out, it quickly became a secret underground city, once even provided shelter for Winston Churchill (on a trip to Ramsgate).

Ramsgate Tunnel guide Colin Jervis
Ramsgate Tunnel guide
Colin Jervis