Seaside restaurant from Mark Sargeant
Rocksalt is perhaps the flagship restaurant of Folkstone, certainly in terms of location and setting. The huge, windows serve as sliding doors to the terrace and it is an attractive setting. Sadly my experience was of blasé and borderline unprofessional staff, below-par food and a room to stay in that looked nothing like those on their website. In fact, this is probably the most befitting summary in that the experience, in reality, is not as grand as the advert. There were some pleasant moments on the food and it was some staff were trying to make it a good experience but ultimately I would not categorise this as worthy of the journey.
One point to note is that if you are staying over, some of their rooms (as was ours) are a hundred metres away from the restaurant in a separate Annex. After a long wait for someone to show us where this was, we were shown to a tiny room, barely bug enough for the double bed with bird shit covering the windows. Judging by the state of it, I cannot imagine this was accumulated in any less than 1-2 weeks and whilst I appreciate they cannot clean these windows every day, it made a terrible first impression.
On to the meal, we made our way to the bar which is above the main restaurant where I encountered the heights of poor service – zero eye contact fro the barman, no engagement when speaking and being told what I couldn’t have on the list that constituted ‘happy hour’ – a concept that seemed to have escaped our barman. There were numerous flies in the bar with an almost acceptance of this norm (a £5 electric tennis racket from Amazon and the simple will to get rid of them would have sorted this in 10 seconds), but was seemingly another aspect that guests should need to get on with.
After two cocktails that tasted suspiciously watered down too much, we made our way to the restaurant as we were simply looking forward to moving away from that area quickly. Once sat inside, there was a pleasant view to enjoy whilst sat on the rounded banquet. Taramasalata with smoked roe and seaweed crisps with sourdough was a good leading opener and choice from the kitchen and the Salmon catch of day was pleasant and nicely cured, horseradish with soft and pickled asparagus.
Bread was forgotten to be brought to the table, but once done was harmless sourdough made locally from over the pier. The oysters were large and perhaps too large to be had ‘in one’ and more care could have been afforded in the preparation to trim more sinew in this case. The breaded mackerel was utterly bone dry. I understand this was deep or shallow fried, but regrettably, this outcome was that this was the most tasteless and devoid of mackerel, mackerel dish I have ever had in a restaurant which, for the location and what the restaurant represents was a huge shame. Not even the hollandaise tartare could rescue this from t its condition and I was surprised the broccoli was not purple as advertised.
The salad was actually a better moment of the meal on this selection but this is arguably not a good thing if this is the case. Thick cut chips were fine and it was good of the kitchen to oblige me a side of sauce bearnaise to try with the chips, but again, sadly this was simply bad bearnaise with virtually zero essences of tarragon or shallot. The upside-down sponge cake had a series of herbs within it which greatly tampered with the coconut flavour and what was supposed to be the stronger element.
Service was not that much better either unfortunately as top-ups were rare to sporadic – when it is like this, I think it is better to do either not do at all (and then the diner knows to help themselves) or make sure you are on the case throughout the entire service. One waiter strolled by slowly and looked at our finished plates and moved on seemingly without a care in the world for tables that probably weren’t his responsibility thus simply demonstrating little proactive thought. This last point isn’t the end of the world, but it simply expands on the point that the whole service was just light years away from genuinely decent experiences available and was in point of fact nothing short of a huge disappointment all round.
In the morning a hamper that was promised to arrive with some breakfast additions was not delivered, causing us to ring and chase this up. It ended up being the case that after a shower, we were actually looking forward to hitting the road which, for an advertised lovely break away, is basically a disaster.
As always the grade is for nothing but the food.
Food Grade: 51%
Location (Click google logo for directions)