If Deal were a British bird, it would be an exotic Firecrest: small, spirited and rich in character. Tucked between Ramsgate and Dover on the Kent coastline, the unsung seaside town has long been a destination for those in the know. In fact, until recently, holiday-makers would have been far more inclined to visit nearby Margate, with its off-beat bars, hip vintage shops and acclaimed Turner Contemporary gallery.
Lately, however, Deal has undergone a bit of a renaissance with a smattering of casual wine bars, independent galleries, and vintage markets opening up. “I love it here” says artist Tim Noble, who moved to the area from east London’s Shoreditch in 2013. ”It gives me the space I need, both personally and for my work.” Alison Whalley made a similar switch, rebranding her cult east London retail space, Hoxton Boutique, as Hoxton Store–a haven for homeware on Deal’s leafy High Street.
The intimate, clandestine feel of French wine bar Le Pinardier draws locals and tourists alike. Friday nights are a big draw for jazz musicians who might just spontaneously burst into song and drum on oversized wine barrels. An equally festive evening can be had at the Frog and Scot, a modern bistro which lacks in pretence and excels in fresh, simple seafood like seared scallops and oysters from nearby Whitstable. Sunday lunch is best served at Victuals & Co, a vibrant restaurant that’s hidden away along a narrow, cobble-stone passageway. While its name hints at the past—a reference to the victualers who once supplied the local ships—its British cuisine remains firmly in the present: a smoked trout terrine with beetroot, Thai-style mackerel and twice-baked cheese souffle.
For music lovers, a visit to specialist vinyl and craft beer emporium Smugglers Records is a must, while art enthusiasts should head to Linden Hall Studio, an understated art gallery that, according to director Myles Corley, aims to show “the best contemporary work across the entire spectrum of visual art, shifting the focus from London to the smaller creative communities in Kent.”