A charming new seafood-focused restaurant in the port town of Folkestone.
Folkestone Wine Company restaurant review
Wandering down Church Street in Folkestone on a winter’s night, warm light glows from behind the steamed-up windows of The Folkestone Wine Company. Inside the atmosphere is invitingly cosy and casual, with wooden floors and tables and a record player quietly playing Motown classics – you can’t help but feel that you’ve been invited into someone’s living room. With just three tables at the front of the restaurant and three or four more down the corridor next to the open kitchen, the vibe is decidedly intimate.
David Hart has been cooking fantastic food in Kent for years, having worked alongside Stephen Harris at Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Seasalter and The Sportsman’s sister restaurant The Granville in Canterbury. He also helped to open the well-regarded Frog and Scott in Deal. Now Hart and his partner, Polly Pleasence, formerly of The Goods Shed in Canterbury, have moved into Folkestone, taking over a former tea house and transforming it into a relaxed and comfortable space to enjoy food and wine.
The foundation of the menu is local Kentish produce, including dairy from nearby Ottinge Court Farm and fish landed just a few hundred metres away at Folkestone harbour. Chef Hart hasn’t limited himself to just British ingredients though, pulling inspiration from his travels in Europe with dishes such as Alpine ham with celeriac remoulade and deliciously garlicky Jésus saucisson served with cornichons.
Locally smoked herring was a triumph of firm-textured, perfectly smoked fish accompanied by a silky Russian salad that was simple enough to enhance the herring without stealing any of the limelight. Line-caught cod with crab bisque was beautiful in its simplicity. A rack of pork came with an umami-rich charcutière sauce. Don’t miss out on the bread and butter, made in-house daily; both the white bloomer and the soda bread were exceptional in flavour and texture.
Orange and almond cake was moist and buttery with perfectly balanced sweetness. It came with chocolate ice cream, the richness of which was offset by the clean acidity of crème fraîche. A cheese plate was generous, with a good mix of local and foreign cheeses.
The small bar at the front of the restaurant shares space with the record player and an espresso machine, but despite the close quarters they can still turn out an excellent negroni and a few other select cocktails as aperitifs. The beers were all from nearby Romney Marsh Brewery, and the wines by the bottle, glass and carafe were varied, with Spain, Italy and France all represented.
What should we order at Folkestone Wine Company?
Although the menu changes on a regular basis the locally caught seafood should be top of your must-order list. Ask what has come in that day and enjoy the best the Kent coast has to offer.
The crab didn’t shine in the crab, fennel and blood orange salad, rather it was slightly overwhelmed by sharp citrus and raw fennel. The beautifully thick pork chop was a little on the tough side, but the charcutière sauce that accompanied it was outstanding.
What else should we know?
David and Polly have played on their strengths in this welcoming neighbourhood gem and the passion they share for it shows in the service, the ambience and the food. They have struck a very nice balance with an informal and welcoming environment and high-quality produce, prepared simply but well.
olive tip: For a bargain, visit at lunch for the dish of the day and a glass of wine for £10.
Price range: Mid-range. Starters from £6, mains from £12.50, puddings from £6.50.