Overlooking the bleak, windswept Kent marshes, this weather-beaten, shabby-chic boozer is home to gastro maverick Stephen Harris – famed for his self-sufficient cred, local enterprise and full-on cooking. Despite its pubby garb, The Sportsman is also a highly accomplished Michelin-starred eatery with a difference: the menu is chalked on a blackboard, orders are placed at the bar, seating is at plain scrubbed tables and service is cheerfully informal – although the food is definitely “worth dressing up for”. Brilliant breads and home-churned butter set the tone, while fish is as fresh as can be – perhaps thornback ray with brown butter, cockles and sherry vinegar dressing. Plates of perfectly roasted chicken and Monkshill Farm pork belly with apple sauce cater for other tastes, but give the kitchen 48 hours’ notice and you can look forward to an eight-course tasting menu designed to showcase the local landscape’s indigenous ingredients. “Clear passion in action”, noted one reader – and we concur.