Faversham Road Seasalter CT5 4BP
Given the bleakness and isolation of its setting, on the quiet coastal road between Whitstable and Faversham, it is surprising to discover a Michelin-starred restaurant in this unassuming-looking pub. Not that The Sportsman feels in the least like a Michelin restaurant (and nor is it really priced like one) – more like an outstandingly good gastro-pub. The surroundings are definitely part of the attraction too: there’s great walking hereabouts, especially in the marshy, coastal Swale Nature Reserve. The food is great and not at all fussy, making use of nearby produce, including lamb from the surrounding salt marshes, local oysters and excellent pork. There’s always good fresh fish too – try the seared thornback ray, brown butter, cockles and sherry vinegar, which often features on the regularly changing menu. You can order a la carte or be guided by owner-chef Steve Harris and order the multi-course tasting menu, for up to six people at one table – a bargain at £45 a head. There's only one drawback to the Sportsman: in the ten years or so it's been here it's become a victim of its own success, picking up multiple awards (most recently the best restaurant in the UK according to 'Restaurant' magazine), and the result is you have to book months in advance to get a table on a weekend. It's worth the wait though – not only for the food, but also the genuinely relaxed ambience and service.