This spring I ended up living in Folkestone down in the south east of the UK. I had put the word out that i was looking for a short-term arrangement and a good friend offered me his place while he was off touring the world. I didn’t think twice and set off with a couple of bags and my laptop. The only condition I had to live was the fact that my friend has pulled out the kitchen a few weeks previously, hmmmmmmm.
This meant I had to explore the culinary delights of this little seaside town and bit more thoroughly then perhaps I might have otherwise. Generally I love to prepare my own food especially now since my diet is a bit more specific then in the past. Luckily, there was a kettle (I drink a lot of tea!) and a blender so i could still do smoothies and blended oats in the morning once I had set up a little work station on top of the washing machine. I also got in some Miso so I could make soup with finely chopped veg steeped in boiling water.
Here are my reviews of the places I encountered around town that looked after me when I needed some hot food or couldn’t deal with washing up in the bath again!
43 Tontine St, Folkestone
open 08:30-17:30 mon-sat
This was the first establishment i visited and became a favourite. My first visit I went for the special of the day which was a chickpea stew. It was served with foccacia bread which they make themselves too. It was slightly spicy, warming and a great sized portion for the price. The place was busy and most of the tables were in continuos use whilst I was there. Even though this might make you feel like rushing off to free the space up I felt able to relax after my meal and digest a bit. Service was quick, efficient, friendly and i wasn’t pushed to pay before I was ready. The menu is varied with a good selection of vegan and vegetarian meals and lighter snacks all well marked. On other visits I have tried the soup of the day and a side salad, the toasted sandwich with bean pate, rocket, and sun dried tomatoes. All was flavourful, filling and quick to arrive. Each time i visit I love the atmosphere. As the only establishment of it’s kind in the town it attracts a supportive slightly older clientele who seem really happy to be there. They also do great vegan cakes. Once I had a sugar free date slice and a almond milk latte which was steamed to perfection. They are open every day apart from sundays (which is a shame as that’s generally a day i want to be eating out). They also do monthly pizza night’s which I have managed to miss during my stay unfortunately. This place is great value, with great staff, atmosphere and tasty vegan food. Not to be missed if your a vegan visitor to Folkestone!
Kipps Ale House
The Old High Street
open 12:00-22:00 fri & sat till 23:30
Well what a surprise this discovery was! After meeting the chef Nick at the weekly Food Assembly in the Quarterhouse I was excited to check out the vegan menu at this pub at the top of the Old High Street. I went with a visiting friend who wasn’t impressed with my miso soup set-up, ha! With an apparently smaller then usual menu offering we went for the chilli and the curry and split them. I was excited to have some of Nick’s spiced water Kefir before eating- good probiotics right there! We started with some humus which was served with some white tortilla. Some sourdough would have been preferable but for the price of a couple of quid, probably not viable. The main dishes were really good with a lot of robust flavours and for a fiver you couldn’t really argue. These guys pride themselves on offering really affordable, wholesome fair which they certainly do. We left with a couple of huge sugar-free date slices for a pound each. Obviously the environment is a bit different, most of the people were drinkers and so perhaps on a weekend night it wouldn’t be the best place if you were wanting a nice quiet meal but weekdays it’s perfect, plenty of space with a good atmosphere and friendly staff members. i look forward to going back to try another dish before I leave town. Nick also sells his dishes frozen and fresh as well as his kefir via the Food Assembly (see review below).
The Folkestone Food Assembly
The Quarterhouse, Tontine Street
This is really worth knowing about if your living in Folkestone. An easy online ordering system links customers with local Kent farmers where you can peruse the produce on offer each week, place an order, pay, and then simply collect at the vibrant weekly event held at the Quarterhouse theatre every tuesday evening, Usually there is hot food available and this is how I met Nick, the chef from Kipp’s Ale house. He was selling his Whole World meals frozen to take home and also one dish to eat hot there. I had the thai curry and it was delicious with lots of fresh veggies and coriander. He makes a lovely spicy Harissa to have with it to which you can also buy in little jars. I have ordered veg from a number of the farms at the food assembly including Organic and Biodynamic Brockmans and Chegworth who specialise in heritage apples. I finally managed to get a bread order in on time and so am looking forward to my seeded sourdough from Docker Fermentation based right here in Folkestone town! This is a great enterprise to support with the average distance the produce travels being only 19 miles!
23 Rendezvous St, Folkestone
open 9:00 -24:00 friday-saturday till 1am
This place had to get an honourable mention for effort, Yes this is a Wetherspoons pub which I never thought I would be writing about let alone eating in again but as I was told about their vegan menu from the owner of Beanos I just had to see it for myself. I went to the bar with the regular menu and asked which options were vegan and they pointed me towards a menu stand ‘you’ll need the vegan menu from there’ I was advised. Well, its pretty amazing but they had an assortment of different menu’s including dairy free and gluten free as well as the veggie/vegan. There was actually a substantial list, I went for the safe bet of the chickpea and sweet potato curry and settled into my comfy booth. It is a really beautiful old building, perhaps it used to be a chapel? Even though it was a busy friday night (I popped in after Kirtan- what a switch up!) there was plenty of private booths to hide away in. It was a pretty standard meal but did the job. I left the cardboard like naan for the seagulls outside. As i said, A-star for effort. I might actually return to try the vegan apple crumble!
15 Rendezvous St, Folkestone
open mon 10:00-18:00 tue-fri 10:00-23:00 sat 09:00-23:00 sun 09:00-17:00
This a the trendy bar in town specialising in burgers. I went with a few friends and expected to have the vegan burger I had read about on the website so I was pleasantly surprised to be given a separate vegan menu here too! Two of us shared the burger and the stew. To be honest it wasn’t brilliant. The stew was a bit bland and dry with not much going on. it had dumplings and some very cooked veg. The burger was better with a good amount of different fillings and some vegan cheese. For the price this is expensive. Each dish was around £12. After experiencing what is available at Kipps over the road for half the price I don’t think I would return, although, it’s a fun place and the owner is lovely. I was tempted by the vegan brownie that looks decadently delicious and gooey. Perhaps I could be tempted to return if i see the right cake in the window for a coffee during the day, It has great people watching windows. Again, I’m very grateful that more places are trying to cater for us vegans.
Steep Street Coffee House
18-24 The Old High Street, Folkestone
open 8:30-18:00 sunday 09:00-17:00
Steep deserve a mention for the BEST vegan coffee in that they offer coconut milk! This is by far my favourite alternative milk in coffee after trying it down in a little caribbean place in Falmouth, When steamed well it is amazingly creamy and delicious and goes so well with a nice rich espresso. Top marks, thankyou steep! Such a nice buzzy place to hang out for the day surrounded by old the old books and big windows onto the Old High Street.
So, there you have it! My surprisingly large run down of the places I found in Folkestone during my little foray into being vegan in Kent! I hope you find it helpful on your next trip. Please feel free to add any comments or recommendations that you have within Folkestone or surrounding Kent.