Birdies is a long-running French restaurant situated on Harbour Street in Whitstable and has been a Whitstable staple since the early 90’s and is in one the best locations in Kent. It’s so close to the harbour and beach that you get an almost immediate sense of calm when you sit down at your table. Birdies has been offering a delicious range of fresh seafood dishes from local suppliers for many years which is just one of the reasons why this is such a popular restaurant.
The moment you walk in you are transported to a different time. The décor is French inspired with all of the walls covered in artwork. The tables have flowers on them, homely clutter on shelves and cabinets, a handwritten chalkboard menu and red and white gingham tablecloth. It’s so cosy that even if you stop off for a coffee, you’ll want to elongate it for as long as possible.
I haven’t had a full on French menu since I was last in Paris so I was really excited to get stuck into trying some beautiful food. To start, I ordered the Deep Fried Cheese with a handmade relish as well as a French Onion Soup. The deep fried cheese looked beautiful and came with gorgeous yellow roquito pepper pearls and a mixed salad. I was really excited to try this and when I cut into the middle it was gooey but also crumbly and very rich and deep in flavour.
The queen of the table though was the delicious onion soup with a wonderful cheesy dumpling in the middle. I last had a French onion soup when I was in Paris and thought the deep rich flavours of mixed onion and deep broth were lovely but Birdies hit the nail on the head with the depth of flavour with this dish. Incredibly rich, very filling and having a delicious gruyère draped dumpling over the sweet onions, oozing into the bowl below was just heavenly. A tip though… Leave your soup to melt the dumpling for a few minutes before digging in (I know this is hard to do) but you won’t regret it.
When I eventually got to the bottom of the bowl, I was so excited to see thick slices of delicious sweet onion that only bread could mop up. Totally perfect and for only £6.00 a bowl – you’d be a fool to miss out on this.
I was really excited by the mains at Birdies. Their menu was so vast with a lot of delicious seafood dishes that I couldn’t wait to get started. I ordered the gently battered Monkfish with Cajun Beans and Saffron Rice as well as the Skate Wing in a Smooth and buttery Beurre Blanc. Beurre Blanc a beautifully simple butter-based emulsified sauce that although simple, is one of the nicest sauces to have with a delicate skate wing.
The Monkfish dish was a total treat. Monkfish is a really interesting fish and despite its extraordinary appearance, once filleted and the central bone removed, the flesh is very firm in texture (much like a Lobster) and very meaty. Served gently fried in cornflour which is always better than using just flour as it creates a beautiful browned exterior. The Cajun beans and saffron rice were a delight and an interesting combination with the Monkfish but it worked beautifully.
The Skate Wing dish was just wonderful. I have long been a fan of Skate but haven’t had it in a long while. The flesh is very creamy and fine in flavour and when cooked well, comes away from the bone beautifully. They’re such an easy fish to cook that it is surprising to not see many Skate dishes on menus so I was really pleased to see it on Birdies.
Serving it with a Beurre Blanc is the classic way to serve Skate, the only thing that would have made the dish even better would be adding some capers to give it a bit more of a salty flavour to the dish.
When I saw that there was a Crêpe Suzette on the menu I almost had a little party as it is one of my favourite desserts of all time and the ultimate queen of retro desserts, so I couldn’t resist getting it. Crêpes Suzette is a French dessert consisting of crêpes with a beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelised sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier, triple sec or orange Curaçao.
I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t adore the delicious warm soft crêpes coated in a wonderfully orange-infused buttery syrup. I would come back to Birdies just for this dessert. Total perfection. It didn’t come with ice cream or cream and it didn’t need to. It’s perfect as it is.
It is clear to see that Birdies is a very popular restaurant and this was evident the moment I walked in. We were sat by the window and I overheard a customer behind me say “Every time I come here the food gets better” and I thought that was lovely. It’s a homely restaurant that is incredibly inviting and although not huge inside, fits enough people comfortably. The service is brilliant, warm and welcoming and the food is just wonderful.
The cost of the food is reasonable, perhaps a tiny bit above usual for lunch but due to the prime location, the fact Birdies uses such good quality local and fresh ingredients, for me it is well-priced. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Birdies to anyone – it’s a lovely restaurant in a totally spectacular location. Oh, and it’s dog friendly!
41 Harbour St, Whitstable CT5 1AH / 01227 265 337
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Disclaimer: Dinner gifted by Birdies