Thursday, 6 February 2014

David Brown Delicatessen, Whitstable

I'm always likening food to music. Byron are Radiohead: went massive but remained cool. McDonald's are STEPS: a dirty secret when drunk. Gourmet Burger Kitchen are Coldplay: an interesting proposition first up but now a bit naff and overtaken by others. You get the drift - I hope. During my moshing years of the 1990s, Supergrass were the band I wanted to be in. Quite cool and always looked like they were having fun. By that line of thinking, David Brown Delicatessen in Whitstable are Supergrass. It's the sort of place, not that I would ever open a place, that I'd want to be involved in.

I'm trying to find a little pad in Whitstable to unwind, and more often than not I've ended up in here. The formula is very simple. A delicatessen flush with antipasti, breads, pizzas and cured meats from Brindisa on the left hand side and a small cafe-bar on the right hand side that when it's going at full pelt probably caters for 15-20 people I'd guess.

On several visits I've had a robust, smoky chickpea and chorizo stew, a chicken, morels and spinach stew (see below) that had bags of flavour: both mopped up with their homemade focaccia, a very simple roasted chicken breast with a few saute potatoes and whizz-bang romesco sauce that I completely forgot to get the recipe, an earthy mushroom soup with the funk of truffle oil. I've taken a train-picnic of a simple square of their focaccia into which I stuffed probably enough salami to make a cardiologist lower his glasses slightly and give you a withering look. The one common denominator is how straightforward and well cooked EVERYTHING I've had there has been.

Whenever I've been in there, the staff and indeed the chefs that I've happened to meet in there - both current and former - that prop up the bar with a coffee or a wine all look like they enjoy themselves there as an employee and a punter. A grand sign. A merry band of people enjoying themselves. That Supergrass likeness again...

This place sits amongst some great restaurants in Whitstable: Wheelers - well everyone knows about Wheelers, Samphire and its changing, clever menu, my best meal ever down the road at the Sportsman, the spectacular fish and chips at VC Jones (all cooked in beef dripping, nod to that cardiologist again) and great, robust generous plates of food at Clare Brown at the Oxford. But there's nothing better than a regular fall-back: in London it's the Anchor and Hope and if I do, please pray for me, finally find a place in Whitstable - then this will be mine here.