Friday 25th March 2016
It was Good Friday and time for the annual visit to the Planet Thanet Beer Festival at the Winter Gardens in Margate. I put in a few hours serving behind the bar before venturing out into the sunlight on a quest to visit a pair of micropubs. At the festival I was working with fellow imbiber Andrew and he like myself, had not previously been to these new openings.
I met up with him on the way to the Fez. I must say we were very impressed by the décor of this micropub. It certainly fits one of the many perceived visions of Margate, being very much “in your face”. Yet it is much more than that, being extremely quirky and containing a large number of artefacts, posters, signs, furniture and a lot more else. There are elements of the 1950s and 1960s (i.e. my childhood period) here; at least I thought so. It’s a pub that makes you smile.
There were a few customers in the pub when we entered. After getting our beers we settled on the outside of a tall industrial type of table found on the left side of the room. The pub has two curved glass bays on each side of the entrance door. The one on the right is larger than the other. It is possible to sit in either and view the street life.
The right side of the room is painted a dull green and has a painted poster promoting Banania, apparently a sugar product made from bananas. There is a wooden bench against the wall and the rest of the furniture is typically mismatched as that in the rest of the pub.
On this side of the pub the colour of the wall abruptly changes to bright red. This is where the unisex toilet is located. It has a red / green light indicator above the door to show if it is in use.
Right by the toilet door is an old Walls ice cream fridge, the top of which is used as an extension of the bar. In this corner there is a large sign promoting the cause of Ansell’s beers and a lovely old electric pub lantern advertising Batham’s “Delph” ales on draught (luckily still with us). Moving left along the back of the room we come upon the bar counter which is made of recovered drift wood.
On the counter is a lovely old National cash register, behind which is the very colourful blackboard advertising the various beers and other drinks offered. Another old fridge is to be found here with a veritable cornucopia of signs and advertisements. The back and left side walls are painted bright red and next to the table we were using was what looked like a old barber’s chair.
On both sides of the room the bench type seats facing inwards are positioned at a higher level. This is not uncommon in micropubs as it enables those seated to be at the same head height as those standing facing them, thus encouraging conversation. I noticed that there were a number of vases containing fresh flowers.
Although it looks like it has been there forever, the pub opened on 18th December 2015, a mere three months before our visit. The last use of its building was as a greeting card shop, the Card Centre.
The premises had been empty for over a year and there was a lot of work needed to bring it up the standard it is at today. It was all done by Philip Evans, whose brainchild the Fez is.
It is usual for there to be four cask beers offered and on this occasion they were: Red Squirrel (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire) Conservation (3.7%); Ripple Steam (Sutton-by-Dover, Kent) Light (3.8%); Kent Brewery (Birling, Kent) Black Gold (4.0%) and Brass Castle (Malton, North Yorkshire) Malton Amber (4.0%).
There were also eight ciders from three different makers. From Celtic Marches there was Abrahall’s Dry (6.5%), Ruby Tuesday (4.0%), Thundering Molly (5.2%) and Lily the Pink (4.5%). Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) supplied Rosie’s Pig (4.8%) and Family Reserve (5.0%). From a lot closer to home were two from Kentish Pip of Bekesbourne and they were Craftsman (5.5%) and Wild Summer (4.0%).
There is a selection of wines and there are also a number of soft drinks. Tea and Coffee is served, with a teacake if desired! If you are in or around Margate, possibly visiting the Turner Gallery, you mustn’t miss the Fez.
The Fez, 40 High Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1DS
Hours: Monday-Saturday 12.00-22.30, Sunday 12.00-22.00
The pub is situated in the retail district of the town and is a short step from Cecil Square where most of the bus routes arrive and depart.
Margate railway station has trains to and from London St Pancras (two routes) and London Victoria. The station is around three-quarters of a mile (1 km) from the pub.
From the station front bear right and walk down to the roundabout. Continue along the Promenade passing the Mechanical Elephant pub on your right. At the Clock Tower continue in a straight line along Marine Gardens up the hill to the Old Town. You will see the High Street on the left. Go down here and the pub is to be found on the left.