Chef Craig Mather to head Ramsgate’s Empire Room Restaurant
Partnership with Royal Harbour Hotel owner sees Eddie Gilbert’s former head chef return to Thanet restaurant scene
Michelin-trained chef Craig Mather is to leave his post as chef lecturer at EastKent College in Broadstairs, to take over The Empire Room restaurant in the Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate
The venture is a partnership between Craig and James Thomas, owner of the award–winning boutique Royal Harbour Hotel.
“I am delighted to be forming a partnership with Craig – his skills as a chef, his experience and local knowledge will help build the reputation of the Empire Room restaurant,” said James.
Craig will assume responsibility for the club-like, 30-cover Empire Room from the beginning of July.
Prior to joining East Kent College in 2011, Craig was head chef of Eddie Gilbert’s gourmet seafood restaurant, which closed in May 2013 following the tragic death of its popular proprietor, Jonny Dunhill, aged just 49.
Whilst Craig, who trained for four years at the Michelin-starred Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, was at Eddie Gilbert’s it won a string of awards. It achieved two Taste of Kent Awards; was named Best Newcomer at the Kent Restaurant Awards and declared overall Pride of Thanet winner.
Before Eddie Gilbert’s, Craig spent a year at Yew Tree Inn, Barfrestone in Kent, when it won the Good Food Guide’s award for Best Newcomer.
Craig’s signature dish of soft boiled duck egg with crispy smoked eel soldiers was named ‘Starter of the Year’ by leading food critic Jay Rayner in an end of year restaurant round up in The Observer newspaper. Former fans of Eddie Gilbert’s will be delighted to hear that the dish will be reprised when Mather returns to the kitchen at the Empire Room restaurant.
Speaking about his time at East Kent College, Mather said, “It’s been brilliant to see the students’ progress and to support their development to succeed in this fabulous but hard-working industry.”
Craig graduated from East Kent College, (when it was Thanet College, whose alumni include TV chefs Gary Rhodes and Richard Phillips. He wants to maintain links with the college, offering work placements and plans to develop apprenticeships and also running cookery courses for the public.
“This partnership with James Thomas offers an exciting opportunity to bring a regularly changing menu, focusing on the best of seasonal Kentish ingredients, in a relaxed and unique restaurant environment,” he added.
Under Mather, The Empire Room will open for lunch offering a set menu at £12 for two courses and £15 for three. For Monday to Thursday evening service, the restaurant will offer a set dinner menu at £18 for two courses and £22 for three, plus a full a la carte. On Monday evenings the restaurant will host a weekly supper club, with three courses for the price of two. On Sundays the lunch menu will cost £19 for two courses and £25 for three. The restaurant is closed Sunday evenings.
The Royal Harbour Hotel, with 27 bedrooms is set across 3 period town houses in a distinguished Georgian crescent, over looking the Royal Harbour(granted royal status by George IV in 1821) and is within a 10-minute walk from the beach.
Double rooms start at £90 a night with a full cooked breakfast and evening cheese board included. Public areas include 3 sitting rooms with fireplaces and honesty bas, plus a walled garden at the rear.
The stylish Empire Room restaurant is decorated with warm red walls and furnished with Victorian and Georgian wooden tables and chairs, linen napkins, Georgian style wine glasses, original Empire magazine covers on the walls and history books on library shelves with stone and wooden floors. It is heated in winter by a wood burning fire.
The Royal Harbour Hotel is a quirky 27 bedroom townhouse hotel that stands on a picturesque Georgian crescent with views of the harbour and beyond.
Its coastal-inspired rooms, individually styled with antiques and period furnishings, come with smart TVs, free WiFi, and tea and coffee making facilities. Upgraded rooms have 4-poster beds, sea-view balconies and Nespresso machines, while suites also feature living areas with fireplaces.
The hotel is rated highly on TripAdvisor; it has ‘Hall of Fame’ status for having won their Certificate of Excellence five years in a row. Three homely sitting rooms feature stripped floors, armchairs, crackling fires and an honesty bar. Furnishings include a roll-top desk, a large collection of beautiful art spread throughout the building, gramophone player with an extensive collection of vinyl records and library. Herbs for The Empire Room restaurant are grown in the courtyard garden.
The location is within easy reach to the railway station, the ‘Blue Flag’ award-winning beach, seafront, marina, ferry terminal, good local pubs and restaurants as well as a diverse selection of independent local shops in the town centre. There are several excellent golf courses nearby.
There is free on-street parking plus a small private, off-street car park.
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The Empire Room Restaurant
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Royal Harbour Hotel
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10-11 Nelson Crescent, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 9JF