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Rocksalt 12 Years On: Is It Still Worth A Visit?

As our local artists and photographers will tell you, Folkestone is a beautiful seaside town. From perfect picture-postcard scenes of boats bobbing in the harbour, to the cobblestones of The Old High Street and the captivating promenade with stunning clifftop vistas, Folkestone is a feast for the eyes.

And if you want a meal with a view in Folkestone, there is no place better than Rocksalt. Nestled in pride of place on the harbour wall, the panoramic views are unrivalled in the town and it makes for a wonderful experience.

Once the jewel in the crown of Folkestone, the Rocksalt Group’s flagship restaurant has seen some turbulent times recently. 2021 saw the departure of celebrity head chef and owner Mark Sargeant due to “unresolvable differences of opinion” with business partner and co-founder Josh De Haan. More recently, Rocksalt has lost its coveted spot in the 2023 edition of the Michelin Guide.

So, after more than a decade of success, has Rocksalt fallen from grace or are the critics too harsh? We thought it was time for a return visit to the once-revered restaurant to see for ourselves if it still lives up to the high standards it once set.

A peek into the kitchen whilst waiting to be seated

Fine Dining in Folkestone

For many, a visit to Rocksalt is saved for those special occasions when you really want to treat yourself. As one of Folkestone’s high-end restaurants, a three-course meal with wine is likely to cost anything from £75 per head upwards. Main dishes hover around the £30-£35 mark once you’ve added the necessary sides. Luckily, we were celebrating our anniversary, so we had a good excuse to freely indulge in the delights on offer.

We visited on a temperate Friday evening in June, and the restaurant was teeming with diners. Nonetheless, we were shown to our table within minutes. Walking into the restaurant you can’t help but be amazed at the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows looking out across the harbour. We sat inside on this occasion, but on those warm, summer days, the outdoor terrace is a beautiful place to be.

Hastings Smoked Haddock Fishcake

The first of our starters was the Hastings Smoked Haddock Fishcake. Its crispy exterior delivered a satisfying crunch, before yielding to reveal the succulence within. The fishcake was thoughtfully accompanied by a delightful curried mayonnaise, perfectly enhancing the flavours and textures of the smoked haddock. A lovely dish to start.

South India Spiced Rye Bay Scallops

We absolutely had to try the Rye Bay Scallops. For the price of this dish, the portion size was small, but the flavour was massive. The delicate scallops stood up surprisingly well to this taste explosion and were not overpowered by the warm sweetness of the date and tamarind chutney.

Folkestone Crab

We also couldn’t resist having some Folkestone Crab, served relatively unadulterated here with just a smidge of brown crab ketchup, a few slivers of crisp, tart, Granny Smith apple and a slice of toasted sourdough. The crab was deliciously fresh, as you would expect, and we were left wanting more.

Ribeye Steak

For our main courses, despite the fabulous selection of fish on offer, we went for dishes from the butcher section. A perfectly cooked, tender, medium-rare rib-eye adorned our table, well-marbled with a perfect golden brown exterior, with crunchy roscoff onion perched on the top and a classic béarnaise sauce on the side. Mrs FF wouldn’t share much, but I managed to steal a bite or two, and it was gorgeous.

Search for stays in Folkestone

Braised Orchard Farm Pork Belly

I favoured the locally-sourced Braised Pork Belly and was not disappointed. The pork was melt-in-the-mouth tender, to the point you could eat it with a spoon. Beautifully paired with some grain mustard and cider sauce and a cracking bubble and squeak, it was pretty special, and I too was reluctant to share.

rocksalt skin-on-fries

Of course, you absolutely have to order sides to accompany your main here, and Rocksalt offer a delicious selection. We decided to go for Spiced Carrots, Creamed Potatoes, Seasonal Greens and Skin-On-Fries.

Baked Cheesecake

On the recommendation of our waitress, I decided to go for the baked cheesecake with passion fruit and mango sorbet. This is a delight, and as good as you’ll get anywhere. Despite being absolutely stuffed from the main course, I did my best to squeeze this in. I managed, because I couldn’t get enough of it. It was the sweetness I needed to round off an exceptional meal.

British Cheese Board

Mrs FF decided she hadn’t had enough savoury, so she ordered the British Cheese Board. So generously portioned as to require 2 boards, it’s enough to be a sharer. In fact, the staff were kind enough to box up what we couldn’t finish so we could take it home. This beast of a cheese platter came fully loaded with a nutty, hard cheddar, a gooey brie, some creamy goat’s cheese and a wonderfully pungent blue stilton to enjoy with a selection of crackers, grapes, celery and chutney.

Still one of the Best Restaurants in Folkestone

We had a wonderful experience at Rocksalt. Has it lost its charm? Not at all. The view is just as spectacular. The service is just as friendly and attentive. The food is still locally-sourced, expertly prepared, beautifully presented and as tasty as ever. Their commitment to quality has not wavered, and it still thoroughly deserves to be considered one of the best restaurants in Folkestone.

Rooms at Rocksalt

If you want to make a night of it, there are some stunning rooms available at Rocksalt, so you can continue to enjoy the view even after your meal is over. You can book your stay at Rocksalt here.

rocksalt rooms

Visiting from out of town? Why not book a stay?

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