We recently spent three days in Deal, on Kent’s North Sea coast. It was an excellent experience, staying in a b&b called Number One, which is a five star establishment in Ranelagh Road, a road very easy to find as you come into this ancient and attractive smaller town.
Deal is a strange contrast, very few chain shops, mainly local, a long high street that is part pedestrianised, which runs parallel to the coastal road.
We had a very good but unmemorable dinner on the first night in a restaurant called The Courtyard, in a road off the seafront, excellent service, reasonable value for money, and one of the better quality eating establishments.
We wanted to try somewhere different the second. We were recommended by our B&B to try Dunkerleys, which is on the seafront. The right side of the building is the hotel and bar entrance, bar snacks also available, and the establishment is under the patronage of the owner of the same name. As in all quality restaurants, the owner doesn’t have to be in attendance for the high standards to be maintained, but we did see him at the end on our first visit.
You enter the dining area from the back through the hotel and bar, with the kitchen at the rear. Of course, the two tables in the window are the prestigious ones, unobstructed views of the wind blown seafront as it gets darker, with the terrace tables protected by a series of connected glass wind breaks. There is a roundabout outside the hotel/restaurant, and imaginative patrons are grateful that the building is set back from the main seafront road by a few yards, thereby protected from errant motorists.
The restaurant is not a wide one, tables either side of the central open area from rear to window. There were only two patrons when we arrived, discussing golf at boring length over every course, fortunately not too loudly. Sandwich courses are less than five miles away, with frequent tournaments, so Deal benefits from this influx. These two men were obvious Trenchermen, appetites satisfied with each course from the a la carte menu.
After ordering a bottle of excellent white Rioja at a very tasty £25, an amuse bouche arrived, tomato and tarragon flavour. Small tasting bowl, nice touch, subtle taste, pleasant. Pam had seared scallops for starter with apple celeriac and cider reduction, only three scallops for £10.95. My starter was crab tian Deal pots, with coriander, cucumber and mango. Delicious, flavours lingered on the tongue in a very pleasant way, cucumber and mango complemented the crab.
Granita arrived after starters, sorbet to you and me, pear flavoured, not as creamy as sorbet, more ice crystals.
Pam’s main course was filleted lemon sole, two pieces of fish over wilted spinach, saffron volute and turned potatoes. Very descriptive, very delicious. No taste overrode the fish flavour, she gives a glowing report. My Kingsdown fillet of sea bass was baked and served over a clam chowder with fondant potato. I needed a spoon so I didn’t waste a mouthful, it was that good. The lemon sole was not cheap at £22.95, sea bass only a pound cheaper.
I had lemon tart for dessert, with Mascarpone ice cream, Pam had the British cheese plate with four choices of large pieces. Tart was £6.95, cheese £9.95.
No coffee, the bill came to close on £120, which for a seafront restaurant could have easily matched prices closer to London. However, it was a superb meal, and I can’t quibble, because everything really is locally sourced which makes ingredients more expensive. If it comes frozen from the wholesaler and then defrosted, it tastes like it comes from the wholesaler.
It was that good, we left a very generous gratuity, and made a booking for the next evening with restaurant manager Dan.
Second night was better, if possible, and also cheaper. The set menu was £15 for two courses, and was simply superb, highly recommended, and one we would definitely return to.
My starter was a huge plate of mussels, cooked simply in cream white wine and garlic, they were fresh, medium size, delicious flavour. Pam had the pate, with the usual local chutney which she didn’t bother with because she never eats chutney, and as I had so many mussels I didn’t try. She assures me it was delicious, from where I was sitting it was also plentiful.
Main course was the same for both of us. Deep fried local haddock, with handcut chips, mushy peas, and tartare sauce. What a plateful, freshly cooked, locally sourced, superb flavour, we relished every mouthful. To complete, Pam had the Seville orange parfait, with ginger caramel and shaved dark chocolate, while I had the nicely warm fig tarte tatin, with hokey pokey ice cream. No, I had never had this variety of ice cream before, quite bland, which was needed to counterbalance the strong fig flavour.
The bill came to just over £80, with a £29 bottle of wine and a bottle of still mineral water, which we considered to be very reasonable.
The service was attentive but not obtrusive, there were three other tables occupied, we assume with patrons from the hotel. Dunkerleys was recommended to us. We are very happy to share with you. Enjoy.
I would say that they had no idea I would be writing this review, they gave no discounts, nothing complimentary, the service is exactly as you will receive when you dine here.