Published on July 19th, 2019 | by James Drew0
Award-winning Ambrette takes Indian cuisine to new level
Margate is a timeless English seaside holiday town on the Kent coast combining old world charm with 21st century culture, writes Martin Banks.
The town’s Theatre Royal is the second-oldest in the country while the Tom Thumb Theatre is one of the smallest theatres in the world.
The internationally acclaimed Turner Contemporary gallery named after JMW Turner showcases historical and ultra-modern art work.
The Turner, though, isn’t Margate’s only claim to fame. Step forward Dev Biswal, owner of the town’s Ambrette restaurant who has just been named UK Asian Chef of the Year at the Asian Restaurant Awards.
Biswal also received a separate regional award for the Devil in Rye (Best Asian Restaurant – South Coast).
The top chef, who also owns The Ambrette in Canterbury, received the accolade at a glittering awards ceremony attended by 500 leading restaurateurs, chefs, food writers and VIP guests.
They applauded what judges called his unique combination of classic and authentic dishes from the sub-continent with modern gastronomic techniques.
Judges, led by Cobra Good Curry Guide editor Pat Chapman said; “Dev’s innovative combination of exotic ingredients and seasonal, local fresh produce never fails to delight.”
Over 100,000 public votes determined the shortlist of the UK’s favourite Asian and Oriental chefs, owners, restaurants and takeaways. The awards are organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF) which represents the nation’s 30,000 Asian and Oriental restaurants.
Biswal said: “It’s very humbling to receive such an honour, when there are now so many top Indian chefs creating wonderful dishes in the UK.It’s great testimony to the dedication to my talented teams, who work tirelessly to achieve consistent high standards and create such exceptional culinary experiences.”
His Margate team is now headed by Henry Finch, who recently arrived having worked at another fine dining restaurant.
He acknowledged the efforts of the eatery’s fantastic British-Indian head – and classically trained – head chef plus his Bangladeshi-born sous-chef.
For those unfamiliar with the restaurant, this is Indian cuisine but not as you may know it. Put simply, the wonderfully-creative dishes produced by Def and his talented team represent the most modern fusion of the best of not only Indian but British food.
Some of the names on the menu may have a distinctly British “feel” to them but all dishes here are tastefully blended with delicate Indian spices.
Among the most popular with customers is the slow cooked British beef option which is a mouth-watering work of culinary art. Even the home-made bread, cooked in a tandoori, is quite delicious.
Even vegans are not forgotten here: the veggies dishes can all be simply turned into vegan dishes by simply removing their cheese content.
Biswal himself grew up in Orissa, was educated in Calcutta and trained at the Dubai Sheraton, before moving to London, aged 26 in 2003. He became a partner in The Indian Princess in Margate in December 2006, becoming patron and rebranding it as The Ambrette in 2010. His second restaurant, in Rye, opened in November 2011.
His restaurants are recommended by all the country’s top restaurant guides, including Michelin, AA, Good Food and Harden’s. He was the resident chef on Channel 4 TV’s Superscrimpers, showing how to prepare gourmet meals on a budget.
His restaurants have won no fewer the 50 national, regional and local food and drink awards in the past few years and featured in the prestigious Square Meal Magazine’s Great Britain’s Great Restaurants list of the nation’s Top 100 list of restaurants outside London.
Each of his three restaurants have their own chef who seek to stamp their own personality on the menu. While Biswal designs the menu at each, his chefs finish off the dishes, giving them all them their own personal, distinctive twist.
Margate was the first of the three to open, back in February 2010, and was originally tucked away in the old town quarter before moving to its bigger, 80-cover location, directly overlooking the charming seafront whose lovely sunset once inspired the great Turner.
The interior is also a delight and features, on one wall, a huge black and white photo of old Margate showing the restaurant as it used to look when it was The Hoy pub back in 1929.
Being now ranked alongside some of the world’s great chefs is a great achievement for Biswal and one which he hopes will help put this small south east corner of England on the culinary map.
The Ambrette, 10 Fort Hill, Margate
T. +44 (0)1843 231504#