Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Hotel launches Little Ships Restaurant and Cafe

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Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Hotel launches Little Ships Restaurant and Cafe
Charcoal fired oven concept template for multi-site roll out

Hotelier James Thomas and chef Craig Mather, the pair behind the critically acclaimed Empire Room restaurant at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate in Thanet in Kent, have opened Little Ships Restaurant and Café.

Overlooking the marina, the 80-seater establishment with outside tables, occupies the former Miles Bar site, which closed at the of June. The new owners refurbished, restyled and rebranded the venue in just 8 days.

The Little Ships’ name plays tribute to the flotilla of privately owned boats used to help evacuate stranded British troops from the Dunkirk beaches in 1940. It also refers to Thanet local trawlers, which supply the fresh fish cooked in the restaurants.

The restaurant’s corporate identity is taken from the chrome yellow, red and black medal ribbon of the Dunkirk Veterans’ Association. This is most prominent from the restaurant’s highly visible awning, which offers al fresco customer protection from the elements.

Chef Craig Mather has installed a locally-made Harrison charcoal-fuelled free-standing oven in his new open kitchen. Favoured by chefs in several Michelin-starred restaurants, the versatile oven can be employed for differing cooking techniques to bring unique flavours.

At high temperatures of 300+°C, the ‘Maillard reaction’ causes natural sugars in foods to caramelise, creating distinctive flavours. Cooking quickly, the oven retains moisture, producing succulent cuts of meat, fish and vegetables.

“Costing over £6,000 these hand-built ovens aren’t cheap, but when you taste the food, you’ll know why we invested in one,” said Chef Craig Mather, who trained at the Michelin-starred Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, adding “You’ve never tasted a steak like it – our vegan customers love the results too.”

The oven also allows for slow roasting and baking, as well as hot and cold smoking.

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Offering a different, informal style to the Royal Harbour Hotel’s cosy-club-like Empire Room, Little ships is open all day, from breakfast, 7 days a week. Like the Empire Room, the menu showcases the best of local produce, including some from across The Channel from northern France.

The short, seasonal menu features dishes such as Baked camembert with rosemary and garlic, flat kebabs, chargrilled sirloin steak, with tahini yoghurt and spicy sriracha sauce and a rich Belgium chocolate pot with crème fraiche.

To date, the most popular breakfast dish has been crushed avocado on sour dough bread.

“Craig is responsible for the food, I do the ambience, “said James Thomas, who has spent 18 years operating the Royal Harbour Hotel, just up the hill from the new venture.

What was Miles Bar, Little Ships has newly polished floors, brasserie style seating shipped over from Boulogne, a wood-cladding on walls and Farrow & Ball paint.

Photos, maps and memorabilia, which commemorate the Dunkirk evocation include

Thomas and Mather have ambitions to rollout the concept, once refined, in other locations along the coast. Margate, Folkestone Dover and Brighton are targets.
Editors’ Notes: With stunning views over the Royal Harbour, Little Ships Restaurant and Café takes its name from the armada of ‘Little Ships’ who set sail from Ramsgate during the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940. Open 7 days a week, it offers an all-day dining and café menu which specialises in fish and local produce from Kent farms. Many vegan and vegetarian options available. Enjoy coffee and drinks overlooking the marina. Dog friendly
The stylish Empire Room restaurant is decorated with warm red walls and furnished with Victorian and Georgian wooden tables and chairs, linen napkins, Georgian style wine glasses, original Empire magazine covers on the walls and history books on library shelves with stone and wooden floors. It is heated in winter by a wood burning fire.
The Royal Harbour Hotel is a quirky 27-bedroom townhouse hotel that stands on a picturesque Georgian crescent with views of the harbour and beyond. Its coastal-inspired rooms, individually styled with antiques and period furnishings, come with smart TVs, free WiFi, and tea and coffee making facilities. Upgraded rooms have 4-poster beds, sea-view balconies and Nespresso machines, while suites also feature living areas with fireplaces.
The hotel is rated highly on TripAdvisor; it has ‘Hall of Fame’ status for having won their Certificate of Excellence five years in a row. Three homely sitting rooms feature stripped floors, armchairs, crackling fires and an honesty bar. Furnishings include a roll-top desk, a large collection of beautiful art spread throughout the building, gramophone player with an extensive collection of vinyl records and library. Herbs for The Empire Room restaurant are grown in the courtyard garden.
Double rooms start at £90 a night with a full cooked breakfast and evening cheese board included. Public areas include 3 sitting rooms with fireplaces and honesty bas, plus a walled garden at the rear. There is free on-street parking plus a small private, off-street car park.
Photos and menus available.
For menus and bookings visit www.resdiary.com/restaurant/littleshipsramsgate

Media Contact: To review contact George Shaw at Avocado Media T: 01892 750851 M : 07860 695555 E : [email protected]
The Empire Room Restaurant T: 01843 582511 Tw: @EmpRoom W: www.theempireroom.co.uk
Royal Harbour Hotel T: 01843 591514 E: [email protected]: @RHHotel W: www.royalharbourhotel.co.uk

Little Ships Restaurant & Café
54-56 Harbour Parade, Ramsgate Kent CT11 8LN
T: 01843 585008 W: www.littleshipsramsgate.co.uk
E: [email protected]
Tw: @littleshipskent FB: @littleshipskent

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