Dunkerleys of Deal, Kent, reviewed

Beloved by golfers and with a superb seafront position, Dunkerley's of Deal offers a really warm, family welcome, excellent fish - and a great night's sleep

Dunkerleys of Deal

Beloved by golfers and with a superb seafront position, Dunkerley’s of Deal offers a really warm, family welcome, excellent fish - and a great night’s sleep

There should definitely be more ‘restaurants with rooms’ – it’s the perfect concept. You get all the atmosphere of a restaurant, without the scale and formality of a hotel, then just pop upstairs after dinner for an excellent night’s sleep, and chef cooks you perfect scrambled eggs in the morning.

It helps that Deal is such an adorable place you’re really not going to want to rush off anyway, and the good news is that Dunkerley’s is not only doing great seafood, but has recently invested �150,000 in refurbishing its bedrooms - so now you really can enjoy the best of both worlds, plus one of the most spectacular views for miles.

Right on the seafront and bang opposite the pier, this Deal stalwart with its colourful window boxes couldn’t be closer to the beach nor easier to find and, according to my host, chef-patron Ian Dunkerley, had I been up with the lark like him, I’d have also witnessed a spectacular sunrise over the water on my recent visit.

Back in 1987 Ian, a former director of the Mermaid Group, and his wife Linda bought a modest caf� restaurant on Deal seafront and gradually started to bring the Pegasus, as it was then, up to the standard it enjoys today. Ian went back into the kitchen, where he still spends time today (when not on the golf course – he is, he confesses, ‘sports mad’), and grew the business through two recessions.

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Ten years after arriving, they bought the Pier Hotel on the corner and knocked the two buildings into one, creating 16 en suite bedrooms, six of which have sea views and four enjoy ‘principal room’ status (two boast jacuzzis). One is remaining traditional in style, with a four-poster, while the others have benefited from a smart new blue and green d�cor, really comfortable Mattesons beds, great lighting and 32in plasma TV screens. 

The couple, who have four children, remain very hands on - “creaking a little but still enjoying the ride”- as Ian says and they now employ between 24 and 40 staff (many have been with them for years), plus seasonal additions. The latter will certainly be essential next year, when the hotel is already fully booked for the Golf Open at nearby Sandwich.

The restaurant is quite traditional in style, with prints of local scenes on the cream walls, darkwood tables and chairs, burgundy for the carpet and tablecloths. It seats up to 45 but on fine evenings many choose to dine al fresco in front of the hotel, where there’s seating for a further 50.

With its seafront position and the esteemed Jenkins of Deal a few doors away, it’s no surprise that fish dominates the menu here and My Work Colleague and I seized the opportunity to test the day’s catch with our starters. My super-fresh Deal crab was teamed with roasted red pepper gazpacho, which made an unusual but tasty and very colourful combination, while MWC’s seared scallops with a vivid pea pur�e and smoked bacon were “warm and succulent”, the peas providing a great texture.

To follow, I enjoyed Ian’s recommendation of filleted halibut in white wine sauce with a tomato concass� and parsley potatoes, the fish firm and almost ‘meaty’ and delicious with a glass of Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc.

WMC veered off the fish trail towards roasted rump of Kentish lamb with truffle-scented forest mushrooms and fondant potatoes, loving the pinkly tender lamb and really flavoursome mushrooms. The addition of sultana and apple compote to her dessert of cinnamon br�l�e gave a lovely contrast of the sharp and the sweet, while my gorgeous chocolate Marquise with blackcurrant ice cream was quite simply a marriage made in heaven.

So if you need a bit of an uplift, a min-break at Dunkerley’s of Deal and a brisk walk along the seafront should put the spring right back in your step. It did in mine.


Dunkerley’s Restaurant and Hotel

19 Beach Street, Deal CT14 7AH

Tel: 01304 375016   Email: info@dunkerleys.co.uk

Typical prices: set menu, two courses �21.50, three 3 courses �27.50

Restaurant open: Tue-Fri 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-9.30pm, Sat 12pm - 2.30pm and 6pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-3pm

Take 3

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