The Importance of Being
It’s not every coastal town that has a restaurant run by a descendent of the lover of the greatest wit of the 19th century. But Deal in Kent isn’t just another coastal town. It’s chockablock with listed buildings without being chocolate box boring. The upwardly mobile relaunch of The Rose (firmly prefixing gastro to pub) complete with Tracey Emin prints hanging on the walls is simply the latest proof in the pudding (St Émilion chocolate torte tonight) of Deal’s rising status as Battersea-on-Sea. Roast Jerusalem artichokes with shallots and hazelnut dressing provide more memorable menu moments.
On a rainswept late Friday evening, The Black Douglas along Deal’s esplanade is an atmospheric hive of joyful activity. “My name’s pronounced ‘DL’,” says owner Lady Dalziel Douglas. There are a few visual giveaways. One is the sepia soaked photographs of distinguished aristos in court dress – lots of ermine on display. Another couple of clues are Dalziel’s cheekbones to slice Manchego with and her piercing blue eyes. She is of course the great great niece of Lord Alfred Douglas, the dashing poet better known as ‘Bosie’, Oscar Wilde’s amour. “My great great great uncle, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, invented the Queensberry Rules of Boxing!” smiles Dalziel, pointing to one of the photographs. The Douglas clan motto is Jamais Arrière which means ‘Never Behind’. True to form, Dalziel confirms, “We were one of the first places to open in Deal of this nature. We’ve been here for 14 years and it’s given other people confidence to open up similar businesses.”
Just as The Rose and The Black Douglas have weekend dinners down to a tea tee, Deal Pier Kitchen upholds the great British breakfast tradition with a twist or rather lots of vegan twists. Eating the first meal of Saturday to the rhythm and splash of lapping waves is a must. Suspended over the sea at the end of a 1950s concrete pier, the café is in a timber and glass pavilion designed by Níall McLaughlin in 2008. The architect has continued Deal’s centuries old dedication to romantic maritime architecture.