Break for the border!

The Waterfront restaurant across the border in Kent

I was disappointed. For me, a visit to The Waterfront, on Hythe seafront had looked an exciting prospect with sautéed mushrooms on the menu. I adore sautéed mushrooms. The best in the world can be enjoyed at O’Americano, a little-known café bar hidden down a cobbled lane in Funchal, Madeira…but that’s another story.

The Waterfront claims to be “an exciting new restaurant and bar’” specialising in fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients to bring you the ultimate fine dining experience. And in many ways it is.

Formerly the Hythe Bay Fish Bar, owned by ‘serial entrepreneur’ Turloo Parrett, the establishment was part of his Eastwell Manor estate and specialised, unsurprisingly, in fish dishes. One of the better places to take clients to lunch, it declined in both service and quality and the Covid pandemic can probably take most of the credit for it closing.

Tony Hibbard and partner Annie Johnston took on the premises in August 2020. And closed in November 2020. And re-opened in April 2021. The stop-start first season doubtless served no favours, but since April they have harvested a crop of regular customers who welcome not just the better quality and broader menu than before, but the subtle change in atmosphere.

There’s a quietly buzzy vibe about the place now. Attentive staff greet you, and the blend of retro-Hollywood prints adorning the walls, a well-stocked cocktail bar, and the beachfront terrace tease the imagination that you’ve strayed into Mastros Ocean Club on Malibu beach.

A well-stocked cocktail bar

The 100 covers inside and 80 covers on the beachside terrace are fully booked at weekends, although it takes a brave soul to venture outside for vittles during winter months. Classic entrées including steaks and seafood star on a menu that has something for all tastes. My disappointment with the sautéed mushrooms was not the taste or presentation – just that the dish is so popular they had sold out. A sure sign The Waterfront can challenge O’Americano in that department.

The delicate pan-fried sea bass with roasted squash and spinach risotto more than made up for any disappointment about mushrooms, and strawberry with champagne cheesecake from a classy dessert menu completed an evening of culinary decadence.

Open 10am until late, Monday through Sunday, The Waterfront has rapidly become the place to eat, drink and be seen. In what passed as British summertime in 2021, this sophisticated spot was overflowing with both locals and tourists. And as the festive season approaches, a mouth-watering selection of delicacies are on offer from a Christmas ‘stall’. Mince pies and mulled wine, sausage rolls and festive cakes, and prosecco to Baileys hot chocolate – winter warmers for every taste.

It may not be Rye, but it is by the sea. And it has rapidly proved the latest sophisticated dining destination, with charm, elegance, and even a little light music on Sunday lunchtimes. But for our readers in Rye…it smacks of pastures new…which it is. But it’s time to grab your pants, buckle up and be bold. Break for the border! You’ll find a whole new dining experience.

The Waterfront, Marine Parade, Hythe. Tel. 01303-233844

Weekend reservations hold a time limit of two hours.

Image Credits: The Waterfront .


  1. Also worth crossing the border for is The Hide & Fox at Saltwood in Hythe
    A Michelin starred establishment offering fine dining to a very high standard.
    Booking’s only.
    Sautéed Mushrooms not available.


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