Age & Sons, Charlotte Court, Ramsgate, Kent

Despite a rumoured sighting of Samuel L Jackson in a Herne Bay barbers, it's fair to say that the Kent coast has some way to go before it rivals the Italian Riviera as a tourist destination. Anyone who, like Billericay Dickie, fancied a rendezvous with Janet quite near the Isle of Thanet would hardly be spoilt for choice when it came to boutique hotels and atmospheric local bistros.

The once-thriving royal resort of Ramsgate should, in theory, be the perfect destination for a daytrip to the seaside, thanks to the imminent high-speed rail link from St Pancras. I had it all planned: a blustery walk on the beach, fish bought straight from the boat, perhaps a little antiques shopping, before a hearty lunch eaten in sight of the sea. I was thinking, it turns out, of Whitstable. Ramsgate is not, nor could ever be mistaken for, Whitstable.

The short taxi ride from station to harbour (courtesy of a driver with "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on his knuckles) took us past boarded-up shops and repossessed properties. It was clear that the flood of wealth which washed over south-east England during the last decade has largely by-passed this far easterly corner. As my fellow day-tripper Harry said, taking in the blighted landscape, "Suddenly I see the point of Brighton".

Ramsgate may not be as affluent as some, but it does have a restaurant of which any seaside town would be proud. Age & Sons was opened last year by brother and sister Toby and Harriet Leigh (their uncle is Rowley, the erudite chef/patron of London's Le Café Anglais). Chef Toby, after stints at The Anchor and Hope and The Hinds Head, wanted to open his own restaurant, but couldn't afford to do it in London. A family trip took him to Ramsgate, where he found a Victorian warehouse, formerly used by local wine merchants Page & Sons (the "P" had fallen off the sign). With sister Harriet on board as general manager, Age & Sons was born.

The Leighs have converted the three-storeyed building into a flexible social hub that functions as café, restaurant, bar and music venue. The ground-floor café is a family-friendly haven serving an all-day menu. Upstairs, there's a slightly smarter restaurant which radiates quiet good taste. Whitewashed walls rise to a gabled roof buttressed by exposed beams, while an old hoist recalls the building's industrial heritage. The white tablecloths are properly crisp, but the tableware is mismatched vintage china, possibly sourced from the town's charity shops.

Toby Leigh's menus are similarly characterful. This is modern British cooking with a distinctly Kentish twist. Fresh fish is at the heart of things, but doesn't dominate – there's plenty of meaty dishes such as devilled kidneys on toast or venison chop, as well as Mrs Miggins-ish specials like turnip pie. Locally foraged ingredients add an intriguing twist to well-known dishes; gravadlax comes with buckthorn berries, sea bass with samphire and sea beet and you can order a bowl of roast chestnuts to pick at while you're deciding.

Excellent (and complimentary) home-baked bread, including a pillowy focaccia studded with cherry tomatoes, got lunch off to a fine start. Lamb sweetbreads, pan-fried with girolles, were marginally overcooked, but the accompanying sea beet was a revelation – dark, shiny, chard-like leaves with a mild ferric bite. Harry asked our charming Antipodean waitress what "milts" might be and was told they were "a kind of roe". Like sweetbreads, they were more about texture than taste, as though essence of mussels had been infused into a small sponge. Good, though. I still haven't broken it to him that he was eating the fully-charged reproductive glands of the male herring.

Neither of our main courses would have won awards for beauty – Leigh seems to take a more-is-more approach to saucing. My poached sea-trout was swimming in a creamy ocean, while Harry's shoulder of lamb came with a jus-like gravy that transformed the dish into an idyllic version of Sunday roast, completed by slippery, butter-rich mash and a chunky salsa verde.

Puddings were well-made; a blousy greengage and almond tart with good, crisp pastry, and an elegant chocolate Nemesis sprinkled with lavender-like buds of dried fennel blossom and rock salt.

Clearly galvanised into manliness by his ingestion of herring sperm, Harry tried to order a port, but they were all out – a shame, given that we were in a port. With tide times listed on the daily menu, Age & Sons is clearly closely connected with the sea, and must be quite a draw for the sailing community based at Ramsgate Harbour.

Prices are reasonable, with starters all under £6 and mains from £10 to £16. Our lunch came to £35 a head, including a couple of glasses of wine each, from a list that specialises in minimally treated wines. As we paid, we asked our waitress to pass on our compliments to Mr Leigh, who is clearly a chip off the avuncular block. "We're the best restaurant in town," she told us proudly. Which I suspect may be something of an understatement.

Age & Sons, Charlotte Court, Ramsgate, Kent (01843 851515)

Food 4 stars
Ambience 3 stars
Service 4 stars

About £35 per head, including wine

Tipping policy: "No service charge. All tips go to the staff"

Side Orders: Kent cuisine

The Sportsman

The £55 tasting menu here includes brill fillet with a smoked herring roe sauce and salt-cured Seasalter ham.

Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable (01227 273370)

Chapter One

Dishes at this one-Michelin-starred eatery include roasted quail with smoked bacon, red cabbage and raisin jus.

Farnborough Common, Locksbottom (01689 854848)

Apicius

Small restaurant, big flavours; try the mouth-watering fillet of black bass with ragoût of artichoke, garlic, tomatoes and olives.

23 Stone St, Cranbrook (01580 714 666)

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit