Having trained as a chef in Australia in the 90s and following a stint as an Executive Chef in London, George moved to Whitstable in 2004. He was heading to Antibes to work as a personal chef on a very nice boat when he spotted an empty shop just a short walk from the beach. His plans changed, and Samphire was born offering Whitstable’s first bistro to be open all day, every day using the best Kentish produce.
Samphire’s head chef, Billy Stock started his career at the age of 16 at the prestigious Westminster-Kingsway College before landing a job at his dream restaurant, St. John. Having grown up on pie & mash, and his granddad’s whelk sandwiches, the ethos of simplicity and traditional British food at St. John seemed natural to Billy and became integral to his approach to cooking. Billy has since worked his way around the best of London’s restaurants, including The Marksman and Rochelle Canteen, with the same focus on unfussy, delicious food.
Whitstable holds fond memories for Billy, who spent many a summer by the seaside with his cousins in Herne Bay. Upon meeting George at Samphire he had the same feeling of family that he had at St. John. The opportunity to work at a restaurant on the beach and eat ice cream on his days off was too good to miss. Within a month he had packed his bags and made the leap. He hasn’t been back to London since.
“Enjoy a delicious fill of Kentish produce at this established, comfortable, locally popular Whitstable bistro, where ‘the food is on the up again’ according to local spies. It’s a place where the day-boat catch of the day could become a dish of gurnard with purple sprouting broccoli, or pan-fried bream with new potato and chorizo hash, or where the meat offer could tempt with local lamb and rosehip harissa.
Come for conventional bistro fare by all means – kedgeree, fish cakes or gnocchi with wild mushrooms are all praised – but look out for some more unusual options, too, such as dosa-spiced potato cake with fermented chilli or an elegantly presented miso and chilli mackerel, the fish skin scorched crisp and the whole served with gently pickled carrot and fennel and a seaweed and sesame cracker.
A chocolate ganache on a crumb base with blood-orange sorbet is an ‘absolute delight’, and there’s love, too, for a pistachio cake with cardamom ice cream. Wine from £18.95.”