Royal Harbour Hotel launches Little Ships

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

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 Veteran’s 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.

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 the officer’s Army tunic of James’s grandfather, Dr George Morris, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was evacuated from Dunkirk on 30th May 1940.

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