Kent dining pub of the month

The Coastguard pub in St Margaret's Bay

Kent dining pub of the month

The closest British pub to France, the magnifique view and hearty seafood dishes draw the summer crowds to The Coastguard pub in St Margaret’s Bay

The minute you arrive at The Coastguard pub, nestling at the foot of the White Cliffs, you get a call on your mobile from French telecommunications network Orange F, welcoming you to France.

Don’t panic, you’re still 21 miles from Calais as the seagull flies, but you are in the closest British pub to the continent and you will also be blissfully out of contact for a while as reception is practically impossible until you navigate your way back up the chalky escarpment.

The rather squat, flat-roofed pub with a large car park in front is the not the prettiest building in the world but you’ll hopefully be gazing out to sea from the double-width terrace, bathed in sunshine, as the setting is the big draw here.

A favourite with walkers, bikers and families, portions are suitably hearty as many customers will have worked up quite an appetite by the time they arrive. Chef Sam Wydymus, who runs the Coastguard with husband Nigel, offers a simple menu of five starters and six mains, with the emphasis (naturally) on seafood and local produce.

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I was, however, a bit surprised to only have a choice of one fishy starter – plump, juicy scallops seared with garlic butter, which My Work Colleague nabbed – and my Brie and caramelised red onion tart was a little on the dull, dry side by comparison.

I imagine most people order the ‘famous battered fresh local day boat cod’ and MWC was no exception, praising the “really light and tasty” batter made from Hoergaarden beer (one of the three Belgian beers on tap here).

My plaice fillet was undeniably fresh and tasty but swimming in too much three-grain mustard butter and the accompanying new potatoes were disconcertingly large for the time of year, the house salad just a few lettuce leaves and very large slices of tomato.

Other choices included sirloin steak from nearby Godstone Farm, served with garlic butter, and char-grilled pork loin marinated with dill, lemon and bay.

We were both too full to order any of the home-made desserts, which included an appealing sounding gypsy tart with plum and rose compote, but if your preference is for Sam’s renowned cheeseboard, you’ll need to place your order with your main course or allow 30 minutes for preparation.  It was good to see Kentish Ashmore in the selection.

And if you’re eating outside, as we were, don’t forget to pick up your cutlery and condiments from the dining area first and do pin everything down, as it can get a little breezy.

We ate – lunch for two

Scallops seared with garlic butter, �8

Brie and caramelised red onion tart, �4.50

Battered cod and double-fried chips, �13

Pan-fried plaice fillet with three-grain mustard butter, �13


Sam Wydymus

Tell us a bit about you

I’m mother of three little girls (and a boy on the way!), trained as a ballet dancer and worked in West End theatre for 15 years before ‘retiring’ to run The Coastguard with my husband Nigel. We’ll be celebrating 10 years at The Coastguard this August.

Your signature dish?

I’m more of a ‘tasty’ chef than a ‘drizzly’ chef  so I don’t really go in for ‘signing’ things!  Also I love food too much to decide on just one dish.  I’m fairly well known for great seafood dishes but that’s really down to the amazing fresh fish available on the Kentish coast. I also love historical cooking methods such as roasting on pebbles. 

Your must-have kitchen gadget?

Baking parchment.  It’s a killer when it runs out! 


The Coastguard

St Margaret's Bay

Dover CT15 6DY

01304 851019

Open: all week, lunch: 12:30am-2:45pm and dinner: 6:30pm-8:45pm

Bar: 10:30am-11pm

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