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Published January 28th 2013
Best Seafood & BYO in Whitstable
Restaurant Front @ Wheelers Oyster Bar
Famed throughout Kent and the United Kingdom for its fresh oysters and fine eating establishments, Whitstable is a town well known for its comestible delights.
The oldest restaurant in the town, Wheelers Oyster Bar, has managed to stay true to its heritage and calling card by providing locals and visitors with the freshest oysters since its humble beginnings back in 1856.
With over 157 years of heritage, Wheelers has seen it all. The bar has won copious awards, has published its very own recipe book and created an effortless win over its seafood rivals.
Wheelers is a very unique seafood experience. Unlike many establishments it is impossible to think there is a restaurant, behind the small Seafood Bar that greets you when you enter the site.
The Seafood Bar, much to its original decor (aside from new fridges), houses an array of crustaceans, fish and other interesting sea life for your palatable pleasure. Upon my arrival at this tiny venue I was seated at this very bar with my party. A good place to be, as the banter between the owner and her staff was entertainment that you could not put money on.
With a fantastic menu it was difficult to make a decision when it came to entree, main and dessert, but with an almost known guarantee that each delivery would be mouthwateringly fantastic, you couldn't really go wrong with your choice.
After scanning the menu I decided to start with half a dozen of some fresh Whitstable oysters with lemon and pepper. Definitely a top choice starter. These shellfish were as fresh as you could imagine, having only been sourced out of the water in the morning.
I followed this with the Tempura of Soft Shell Crab w Chilli, Spring onion & Sea Salt, an Asian style dish that lived up to its expectations. This was a delectable option as my light main and came accompanied with a tangy fish sauce, enhancing the flavour of the crunchy crab.
Just when you think you are unable to finish another mouthful, out comes the dessert menu. Now, as this was my first visit to Whitstable, I was not fully equipped with knowledge on the dessert scene. I was quite intrigued by the Kentish Gypsy Tart, which I was told to try as this was a Kent delicacy on the sweet front.
The Kentish Gypsy Tart (for you history fans out there) was created by a lady in the 20th century who regularly saw undernourished gypsy kids playing in the grounds next to her home. She wanted to make them a treat and all she had was a pie crust, evaporated milk and brown sugar. She made the sweet tart and henceforth the tart has been a Kentish tradition in Kent, England ever since.
An avid fan of dessert, it didn't take any more persuading to seal the deal with this biscuit based sweet treat.
Out came the desserts, and I had made the right decision in going with a Kentish Gypsy Tart. The tart is definitely on the sweet side, but the biscuit base and light, fluffy mousse texture created by the whipped sugar and evaporated milk manage to balance the dessert perfectly.
Dining out at Wheelers was a success. I was pleasantly surprised initially by the size of the venue, however blown away by how fantastic the food was across all areas. It just goes to show that you must never judge a book by its over.
If you are in Whitstable ensure you book ahead at Wheelers as its popularity is consistently on the uprise and a walk in table could be very hard to find.