We’ve been at the table, on top of the table, under the table, but never in The Table. Till now. Ironically, we’re sat at the bar, not a table. What the Dickens? We worship in the church where the novelist got married (St Luke’s Chelsea) and party where he lived (Rochester) so it’s high time we ate in his favourite seaside resort (Broadstairs). We’re Grooving to Armada: “If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air | Quaint little villages here and there.”
The Table is blessed with large windows embracing the street front. It’s very intimate: just 14 covers including ours propped up at the bar. Owner Joe Hill is assisted by three cheery staff in the open kitchen on the other side of the bar. Cosy. “I originally opened here as a wine and cheese deli and it grew from that,” he explains. “I’m a chef by trade. I’ve three young children and wanted to escape the rigmarole of working in London. I’m London born and bred: I’d never heard of Broadstairs till about three years ago! I’ve mates with businesses in Margate though.”
Joe is clearly smitten with his choice of location: “Broadstairs is so friendly. It’s good for families. The town is old, quaint, not too ahead of itself. It still has all your local stores. The sandy beach is dreamy.” He casually mentions working for the greats (Gordon Ramsay, Tom Aikens and Jean-Georges Vongerichten) and working at the greats (Shoreditch House London, W Hotel London and Fordwich Arms Kent) all adding up to an envy inducing resumé. Joe can hold his own: The Table is great.
Lunch menu is introduced as “upmarket street food” and is divided into ‘snacks’, ‘bowls’ and ‘plates’. Sticking to the coastal theme we order house seaweed kimchi then sake drunken clams, seaweed and kohlrabi followed by silken tofu, miso roasted tomato and ponzu. Joe suggests toasted sesame seed and chive flatbread. Good shout. If this is upmarket street food, then York Street is the Mount Street of Broadstairs. Off menu pudding is a posh brownie crowned with flowers and oranges bathing in a fruit syrup.
The afternoon isn’t spent yet. We’re not done. Decisions, decisions. Down doubles in The Chapel Bar or sip on Chapel Down’s Bacchus from the North Downs on that beach, the Downings of Kent? Let’s do both. To quote from Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, “Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.” A local resident emerging from a house built into the cliff face towering over the beach spots our bottle of Kit’s Cody freshly purchased from The Bottleneck wine shop and asks, “Have you had it before? You’ll be in for a surprise. It’s spectacular!”