Arya, Ramsgate: restaurant review
We try crispy pork head croquettes, perfectly pink Ibérico pork, and refreshing rhubarb and custard cocktails at this Ramsgate restaurant
Looking for restaurants in Ramsgate, Kent? Read our review of small plates restaurant and bar Arya, and check out more suggestions for eating out in Kent here.
In a nutshell: Two of the best places to eat and drink in Ramsgate, all under one roof.
Luke Crittenden, formerly of Soho’s Polpetto (check out our guide to the best restaurants in Soho here), is at the helm using his experience to dish out delicious modern European small plates. His sister, Jess, heads up the front of house. The family affair continues just a few miles away in Broadstairs, where Luke’s brother and his wife have been running Stark since 2016.
What’s the vibe?
To get to Arya, you have to go through The Ravensgate Arms – not exactly a hardship. Leave yourself time for a pre-dinner cocktail, the staff will happily add it to your restaurant bill, to be paid at the end. Enquiring glances follow you as you head up the stairs behind an unmarked door. At the top, a window into the kitchen gives you a glimpse of the action before you’re ushered into the small, six-table dining room decorated with local art, all of which is for sale.
What’s the food like?
The menu is as petite as the dining room, but with three snacks, six small plates, three sharing plates and three desserts, there’s still plenty of choice – if, by some miracle, you’re not tempted to order one of everything.
Start with plump pickled anchovies, deep fried in squid-ink batter with seaweed tartare sauce. Next try any, or all, of the small plates – they’re all great. The crispy pork head croquette with smoked apple sauce, fermented apples and shallots was confident and complex.
The most surprising dish of the night came in the form of beautifully blow-torched mackerel sitting on dill yogurt with gooseberry, cucumber, nasturtium and miso. The charred skin cracked under the fork, revealing buttery, raw flesh. Each bite revealed a new flavour, subtle and multilayered, which made you want to keep eating just to see what you would discover next. Also worth mentioning were the prawns with paella rice, which had the perfect, chewy bottom-of-the-pan layer of saffron-infused rice sat under juicy, garlicky prawns.
The larger sharing plates are simple but focused: baked Tunworth cheese with bread, whole bream with pink fir potatoes and Iberico pork with padron peppers. The latter was served perfectly pink with salty, floral capers to contrast the charred, grassy peppers.
Desserts are equally simple but any of them would be a satisfying way to end your meal.
And the drinks?
There’s a small but interesting wine list, including wines from the USA, France and Spain. All drinks available downstairs in The Ravensgate Arms are also available in the restaurant. The rhubarb and custard cocktail was incredibly refreshing – and when the cocktails are two for £10, it would be rude not to.
olive tip: The bold among you won’t want to skip the wagyu beef lettuce cup with smoked anchovy. You’ll be surprised how much flavour can be packed into just a few bites.
Arya, 56-58 King Street, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 8NY
Words by Pami Hoggatt