June 22 and 23 was supposed to be the much looked forward to Folkestone Fish Festival. I know my husband and I especially were looking forward to the activities and camaraderie the festival was bringing to the Creative Quarter and to Folkestone as a whole. Everyone was banding together to create a memorable and impressive event that would showcase Folkestone and all it has to offer. Then came the wind and the rain. Once again, plans are foiled by the British summer, but we pressed on and enjoyed an afternoon strolling the Old High Street and looking forward to our fish dinner at Googies later that evening.
Googies has become our go-to place in Folkestone. It’s got good beer, great coffee and exceptional food with the kind of casual, relaxed atmosphere that makes you want to stay all day. We really enjoy their modern take on food, especially their burger wraps and the ever-changing specials board which always has something tempting on it. On top of all this, they champion local producers and work by the ‘Buy Local’ motto which really has brought them into the hearts of the town.
While we were having a Jack the Ripper one afternoon a couple weeks ago – that is a shot of espresso and a shot of Honey Jack Daniels with steamed milk. Yeah, I know – we started chatting to a young man sitting opposite us. That young man turned out to be head chef, Max Lakra. He was really excited about the Fish Festival where he was due to give a live cooking demonstration and he was especially looking forward to the three-course fish menu he was going to create to celebrate the festival.
Finally, the night arrived and we started by sharing the mussels steamed with white wine, shallots and garlic cream (£6.95). The mussels were sweet, meltingly tender and floating in a delicious creamy sauce. It may be simple, but all of you know that there is a hell of a lot that could have gone wrong with this dish. The mussels were cooked perfectly and the cream was fantastic. My only qualm was that I could have used a bucket of the sauce rather than a ladleful, but I’m greedy like that.
For our mains we had a fillet of sea bream with samphire and grilled asparagus spears in a saffron and mussel broth on a bed of crushed Kentish new potatoes which had been stirred through with wholegrain mustard (£13.95). The fish was perfectly cooked with a beautifully crispy skin and the asparagus and samphire were ideal accompaniments. Everything was very fresh and clean tasting. The mussels were tender little jewels sitting in a wonderfully clear broth in which you could both see the gorgeous yellow of saffron and taste its flowery essence.
Our other main was pan fried scallops on a shallot and pea purée with sauté potatoes and chorizo (£13.95). This has become quite a classic scallop dish, but it was done well with the saltiness of the chorizo really offsetting the sweet, delicate flesh of the scallop and the freshness of the pea purée. My only complaint would be that it was a little on the small side, but maybe if we had each had our own starter it would have felt more substantial.
We had a fantastic time, as we always do, and the food was really great. It’s nice to see that Max, as head chef, has the creative freedom to assemble a menu like this which showcases great Folkestone fish as well as his talents as a chef. It’s also great to see local businesses flexing their muscles and trying new things – especially when it works! We will head in to Googies again really soon; it’s probably the only place in Folkestone where you don’t want to stay away too long because you might miss something fantastic!