For a restaurant perched on the north Kent coast, as blunt with its architecture as it is its winter weather, the Mediterranean vibe at JoJo’s might seem a little incongruous. With food as good as this, though, the feeling doesn’t last long.
Meze, or tapas if you prefer, is the name of the game here – free-range cured meats, pitta breads, tzatziki, cheeses, salads, spreads and the like dominate the menu. As you’d expect, once the meze platter comes, it’s all a bit of a free-for-all – waiters actively encourage having a bit of this and a bit of that, so if you’re not a sharer, perhaps you should stay at home and look after the cat.
A skimming stone’s throw from the North Sea, the fish is as fresh – and sustainable – as you like it. Which is why dishes such as the mackerel or plaice fillet are so subtle and delicate – quite atypical of a worryingly high proportion of seafood joints on the British coast.
What is perhaps most striking about JoJo’s though is its value. Throw together a mixed meze board, drinks, and an extra dish each for a table of four, and the bill’s not going to creep far beyond £30 a head. Maybe that’s why it’s a favourite among the locals. Maybe that’s why Observer critic Marina O’Loughlin named the restaurant as one of her top 50 in the UK. Whatever – it’s why the tables fill up quickly, so make sure you book ahead.
By Hugh Thomas, Kent editor