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The Old Buoy – Folkestone’s Hidden Gem

It has been said that Mrs FF and I like the odd drink, and when we go for a pint, we have a few favourite spots we tend to gravitate towards. One of the places you might find us, chewing the cud and generally putting the world to rights, is located in a long-forgotten part of town.

Off the beaten track

While the Harbour Arm and Harbourside might be getting all the attention at the moment for its food and drink offerings, if you were to take a stroll along Tontine Street, you might be in for a surprise. Yes, it certainly has a more “downtown” feel to the area, and you would be forgiven for feeling like you should turn back and head instead for the more welcoming cobbled stone of The Old High Street, but for those who persevere, a hidden gem awaits. A little way up the street, you will usually find a couple of tables adorning the pavement, continental style, outside a rather unassuming bar called The Old Buoy.

Image Credit: – The Old Buoy

Belgian culture right here in Folkestone

The Old Buoy is an authentic Belgian Bar, boasting a large selection of Belgian beers and a popular menu of Flemish food. Stepping over the threshold, a few things hit you at once – the cosy, relaxed atmosphere, the understated décor and the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen – and it immediately pulls you in. Mrs FF and I usually start with a firm favourite of ours, a dark draft beer from Antwerp called Bolleke (pronounced bo-lekky – easy to slip up if you’re not careful, especially when you ask for two!), served in the correct glass of course – very important. There is just something about the feel of this place that instantly transports you to the continent, and within the first few mouthfuls, we are already planning a trip to Belgium.

An incredible selection of beers

Next, we peruse the extensive beer menu for something with a little more kick, and we certainly find it. I opt for a bottle of the Westmalle Tripel, the strongest on the menu at 9.5%, described as a world class Trappist beer, amber in colour with notes of banana and clove. Mrs FF favours the Geuze Boon at 7%, a bottle fermented, unfiltered Lambic beer (brewed without yeast), characteristically sour and refreshing. Both are delicious, and dangerously moreish. You can enjoy these beers a little too much, and it takes some restraint for us not to work our way through the entire menu. We do manage to try a couple more however, including a Kriek Boon at a much more restrained 4%, a cherry beer described by the staff as breakfast beer. Now that’s a concept I can get on board with! There are wines and spirits on offer too of course, as many as you would expect a bar of this kind to have, but for us, it’s all about the beers when we visit here.

An authentic Belgian menu

After sinking a good few of Belgium’s finest, it’s the perfect time to order some of that food that smells so good, to soak up some of the alcohol. A quick glance at the blackboards on the wall shows us the entire, beautifully simple menu of six dishes. There is a Croque Monsieur for a mere £5, Spaghetti Bolognese at £8 and Moules Mariniere with Frites at £10. But we both go for the Flemish Beef Stew with Chips and Salad (£13), and are not disappointed. The beef is melt-in-the-mouth tender, served in a rich, flavourful sauce, and is the perfect complement to the beer. Clean plates all round. On previous occasions, the aroma of the mussels has been too much to resist, and we have devoured them. This is a Belgian classic done well, simply the best mussels in town and the most authentic.

Flemish Beef Stew with Chips and Salad – £13

The owner, Thierry, is an impeccable host, offering a warm welcome whilst still managing to cook and serve the food, and be on hand to share his extensive knowledge of the beers on offer. 

The Old Buoy is well worth the short walk away from the main bustle for a taste of Belgium, a café bar that could easily have been brought over from the continent brick by brick and reassembled in our little town. But if you do happen to wander up there, try not to shout about it. Let’s keep this place our little secret.

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

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