What To Do In Margate
Rose In June
Due to the sheer quality of the venues, we won't shut up. We were here first, and so these places became haunts for the young creatives of Shoreditch. Now Margate seems to have followed suit – swarms (hordes if we’re being honest) of normcore kids dancing till dawn at a slew of new clubs. The Rose in June is one of the newest additions to this family, with a venue so good Paul Smith redesigned it for them.
It reopened on Valentine’s Day 2013 after a £1m refurbishment and has become a breeding ground for some local design talent as well as Margate’s most creative youngsters, This is Margate (thisismargate.co.uk). The Rose And Punchbowl is a unique long established pub in central Margate that has only recently been brought back to its former glory with a complete restoration. It opened in 1890 and was a favourite haunt of Charlie Chaplin. The new bar has a traditional country pub feel and a fresh new way of thinking.
We are the only pub on the high street offering an interesting mix of local artisan beers, wines and spirits, amazing signature cocktails, quality bar food and British home cooked food all served with pride and care. On a normal midweek evening The Rose In June is probably not going to be that busy but even if it is keep going, give it a chance and you’ll find some cozy corners. There’s no music on, but that’s what your iPhone is for isn’t it? Just let the bar staff know.
When we visited, there was music on in the corner of the small saloon bar and a few tables had full ashtrays. But this ended when we asked the barman, who was very welcoming throughout (like all the staff). The Rose in June Named after a William Morris poem, the rose being a symbol of romance. The William Morris club has a large hand in the refurbishing and selection of artworks with an eye on never taking itself too seriously.
Live music downstairs Friday and Saturday, along with DJs on Sunday evenings. Currently closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Serves The Kollective Cafe's sourdough pizzas during the week and fish & chips during happy hours. There was a time, not that long ago, when the East End was a fairly no-go area. None of your trendy bars or restaurants frequented by the media types and other self-confessed trendies. No Gourmand & Co, Fifteen or Theatre Delicatessen, and if youre not familiar with these places then believe me you are in need of a hipster transplant.
The Rose In June stands in the middle of Margate's harbour, opposite The Old Town Gaol and just across from Dreamland. Its a curious building: just below street level, with windows and steps half-buried in pebbles deposited by the sea. Small and dark inside, it was once a tearoom called the Queen of Watering Places. Fares on the Southeastern route, particularly in business class, start at around £25. The train takes 1 hour and 11 minutes to arrive in Margate.
The Art Car Boot Fair
In the centre of Margate is the Turner Contemporary art gallery, designed by David Chipperfield; which opened in 2011 and has drawn visitors from across the country. This gallery was an impetus for creative entrepreneurs in the town, and has led to a new generation of artists who called Margate home. In a converted church around the corner from this gallery, is the Galopoulos Collection — an exhibition space that hosts emerging and mid-career artists (and occasionally sells their work).
You won't find any van Goghs, but you will find ingenious stalls and installations made of driftwood, plastic bottles, sand. You will encounter the amazing art car boot fair – an annual threshing site for high-end cars bought cheap on the continent and sold with their engines removed and replaced by stalls selling tapas from old Citroens. Trains run twice an hour between London and Margate. How many weeks in advance should I book my train tickets? Does it not depend on the price of the ticket?.
The aim of Margate Now is achieving a shift in the way art is consumed. It is not about creating a destination event but a movement: a collective, communal, and democratic engagement with the work. Margate Now will be everywhere: existing in and connecting its different locations across the town, at and beyond the margins of its intended festival dates, forming an installation whose existence extends far beyond the walls of any gallery or museum, striking up in the imaginative spaces along routes out of town, in conversations at pubs, kitchens and living rooms ….
If you throw a stone at a window in Margate, it will inevitably hit an artist, designer or entrepreneur who has come to work their dream. These creative souls are drawn to the small seaside town like moths to a flame and have flooded the town centre in the last decade. They are working on everything from 3D-printed pop up shops for Margate Fashion Week (www. margatefashionweek. com returning in 2018 for it's third successful year) and designing new bookshelves for the library, to starting little independent businesses like The Margate Bookshop and setting up creative co-working spaces like the beautifully designed Antidote which opened last month.
Moving to the area in September 2013, I was shocked at the lack of independent businesses and the mass chains across Margate. Not only did it feel like a ghost town at holiday times, but it was also lacking diversity – previously the seaside had attracted all types of families from across the UK, but as high street stores closed it became a town full of retirees or middle-class Londoners on holidays. As the snow fell and the cold gripped us over Christmas I found myself heading further south in my travels to the glorious town of Margate, nestling on the Kent coast.
Things have changed a great deal since Turner first visited in 1803. Those little artisans houses have disappeared from his view and been replaced by some of the best independent shops to be found anywhere. It started with Turner Contemporary. The demand for better services, on top of a surge in visitors seeking an alternative to London, have spurred other businesses to relocate here. This is an art-led regeneration project, in which the local community is leading the way.
The Great British Pizza Company
Recently, The Great British Pizza Company opened in an old bank building across from Fountain Park, with artisan pizzas cooked in an oven shipped in from Naples. One of the owners is Italian and they use 00 flour and a sourdough leaven for the bases. London has been bombarded with gourmet pizza restaurants over the past few years so I had everyone lined up to critique my Margate pizza opinions. We all agreed that it lacked authenticity but was delicious in its own way.
It's also one of the better places for children, with a hideaway under stairs – complete with plastic balls and pulleys. Within the hotel, James Haywood-Berks, 26, is now marking a year at The Great British Pizza Company, and nights with his wife in their apartment overlooking the seafront. He says: "We moved down from Solihull to be on the south coast and do our own thing. " His top tips for eating out include Fish, a chippy that has been going for 30 years and is open till 2am, along with Balu, a fish joint that delivers to hotels.
The Great British Pizza Company is a cool restaurant on Marine Drive, which celebrates all things British. It has a range of beers and ales (Bass, Old Speckled Hen) and wines from the UK (Ploughman’s Lunaire assyrtiko, Driftwood Pinot Grigio). Toppings are distinctly British – smoked salmon with cream cheese or Roquefort. "But of course the main purpose of the Margate pizza wars is to draw customers into all the other bars and restaurants on Marine Drive.
At its heart, it's a social media BOGOF. And no one knows more about this than Nimo Zannin, The Great British Pizza Company MD and co-founder. ". Margate’s newest cafe – with a very un-cafe-like name – is The Great British Pizza Co. It has the flair for foodie, quirky design (look at the wallpaper!) and interesting beer selection that could give it legs after the kiddies are tucked up in bed. The Great British Pizza Company, which The Sands houses, is probably the place to wander in for a bite to eat given the buzz.
The Best Shops In Margate
The Margate Bookshop is more than just a bookshop. It's also a publisher and a place for book lovers to meet. Spotting this long, low, brick building on the way down to the Turner Contemporary gallery from the train station, I was intrigued enough to wander in. I ended up chatting to owner Gwen Taylor (who also does one of my favourite books interviews with local writers) for so long that I unprompted bought not one, but two books from her.
The Margate Bookshop deserves special mention, as it's the only independent bookshop in the town and prides itself on offering a wide selection of books in many genres and even hosts some literary events. The town really is well-stocked with a variety of different boutiques selling all manner of different goods, from vintage homeware to surf-inspired clothing and accessories. There’s a growing buzz in Margate’s Old Town. It must be the positive word of mouth that keeps inspiring new visitors year after year, but it’s more likely to be the recent investment in Margate, which has brought a new art gallery Turner Contemporary and three independent cinemas: The Dreamland, Cineworld and Margate Odeon.
All of these newcomers have a fresh air of optimism around them which is well founded. Turner Contemporary has had around 1 million visitors in the last year, and is predicted to bring £3. 5 million a year to the local economy, coupled with the new Margate train station due to open in 2019 which will make travel even easier. Turner Contemporary opened in 2011 and has been a magnet for people since. Businesses accountants, restaurants, new bars and even a bookshop have all opened their doors because of the visit from the 5 million tourists that come through every year.
Where To Eat And Drink In Margate
The Coney Beach House, which opened last year in one of the buildings facing the promenade, does casually elegant very well. It has a lovely outside area to eat and drink and friends told me it was big on cocktails, but I was there for dinner. The place was busy enough for a weeknight and you could squeeze about 36 people in the two front bars if you really tried – I’m not sure they’d have managed it with 38.
It was all a bit nautical themed – we had to negotiate various ropes around our table at one point. From the opening days of Marine Ices and The Old Ship to the newbies such as Canteen, The Wicked Oyster, Charlotte’s Pantry and The Little Thai Place, there are more than enough places on the seafront to discover. Then there's little gems like Tantastic Ice Cream (off-piste), New Oz Café (cheap eats) and Hollywood Fish n Chips (fancy chippy) – along with packed pubs, an Indian restaurant with an amazing lunch deal for £5.
95 and a Gourmet Burger Kitchen which don't offer meat-free veggie burgers. The Sands Hotel, from Kevin Keating and Sean and Benny Cusack, has a restaurant and bar that's proven so successful that they're opening another by the end of the year (the new one is currently going under the name BBQ54). The hotel's on-site food operation is curated by the famed London chef Claude Bosi of Hibiscus fame (he also opened Paws Up in Gloucestershire last year).
In 2016, the tables are being turned on the (mostly steak) restaurants in town as there seems to be a growing movement towards fine dining. Some local independents have even started serving up Michelin-style menus. And Margate’s street food scene is more popular than ever, with visitors flocking to stalls like Zapata and Burger Bear for their latest creations. If, like me, you are a bit of a foodie and spend all your time geeking out on restaurants, (not just reviewing them) then this list is for you.
I've been spending so much time in Margate these last few weeks that I thought I'd do a little write up on the best eats and treats the town has to offer so here it is. Let me start by telling you that the food and drink scene is a lot more than just the many fantastic eateries on Marine Drive. In fact, you’ll find some of the best cafes, restaurants and bars hidden by alleys and wide streets tucked away off Marine Drive.