Foodies are advised to travel to the south east of the county where moments before you hit salt water you'll find Coast, the award-winning restaurant of the Hythe Imperial Hotel.

The celebrated four-star hotel occupies a magnificent position overlooking Hythe's sea front. A recipient of an AA Rosette in July, the Victorian mansion saw the grand opening of its Möet & Chandon Champagne Bar in August with the Worshipful Mayor of Hythe, Michael Lyons, cutting the ribbon.

Coast itself is elegance personified; a tall room with ceiling fans, soft lighting and a pale palette contrasting beautifully with dark wooden seating. Wooden menus, divided into Sea, Land and Garden, showcase the best of British cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.

Tonight's House Soup is broccoli and stilton; thick and smooth and a dream on the taste buds. Croutons are lightly toasted and simply melt in the mouth. The salt and pepper squid starter is cooked to perfection. Accompanied by home pickled vegetables and sweet chilli sauce, the blend of flavours and textures is phenomenal.

A plump glass of Merlot accompanies my main course of courgette and wild mushroom spaghetti topped with truffle oil. Light, fresh and tasty the dish has a generous scattering of parmesan shavings that pack a neat punch.

Sorely tempted by the lobster, my companion instead tucks into the 10oz sirloin steak served with cherries on the vine, slabs of hand cut chips and béarnaise sauce. The quality cut of meat is cooked deliciously rare; juicy in the middle and the picture-perfect shade of pink.

For dessert, I plump for the Eton Mess; a cloud of meringue, sweet strawberries and blackberries, zingy raspberry sorbet and fresh whipped cream. My partner's dark chocolate and banana mousse is thick and creamy with a drizzle of decidedly moreish toffee banana sauce.

Our fellow diners - including a 60th birthday party and couples enjoying a night of romance - also clearly enjoy their evening. The atmosphere bubbles with conversation, laughter and the clinking of glasses and cutlery while genial serving staff appear like magic to cater to every need.

there is no doubt we will return an Coast's new 'Free Flow Fizz' Sunday lunch offers the perfect excuse. A three-course meal plus free flow sparkling wine you say? Count me in.

Hythe Imperial Hotel

Princes Parade

Hythe, Kent
CT21 6AE

Tel: 01303 267441