THE ULTIMATE KENT PUB CRAWL
Though pubs may have changed over the years, there’s still no better place to meet up with friends for a drink and a hearty meal. Kent is home to some wonderful pubs – from the ultra-traditional with dried hops adorning the walls and ceilings with a wide selection of local beers on tap, to the more modern gastropub offering swanky décor, gourmet meals and cocktails.
Each year in our annual Food Issue, we highlight some of the best watering holes in our Ultimate Kent Pub Crawl. We recommend trying each and every one to get a true taste of the Garden of England – and don’t forget to book a taxi!
The Pilot Inn, Lydd-on-Sea
With over 1,000 TripAdvisor reviews, it’s fair to say The Pilot Inn is a popular place. “We visit regularly, the fish is hard to beat”, “…this pub has to be one of my favourites of all time!”, “The food was brilliant, not long to wait, very varied menu, lovely welcoming staff.” – these are just a few of the glowing reviews of this traditional pub and restaurant. Need we say more?
The Pilot Inn, Battery Road, Lydd-on-Sea, Lydd TN29 9NJ
Ocean Inn, Dymchurch
At the Ocean Inn, it’s all about seafood – specifically their best-selling fresh fish and chips. Choose from skate, cod, huss, haddock or plaice, and pair it with a guest real ale or craft beer. They also have an impressive kids’ menu, and play area so the grown-ups can chat while the kids play.
Ocean Inn, 2 High Street, Dymchurch TN29 0NG
Kipps’ Alehouse, Folkestone
If you’re looking for one of the best selections of craft and specialty beers, wine and cider in Kent, look no further than Kipps’ Alehouse. Situated in a prime position within Folkestone’s Creative Quarter, Kipps’ offers an excellent variety of cask ale, gravity poured. They also serve whole world vegetarian food lovingly prepared using seasonal ingredients. We recommend the Moroccan couscous, and any of the Tiny Rebel IPAs.
Kipps’ Alehouse, 11-15 The Old High Street, Folkestone CT20 1RL
The Smugglers Bar and Restaurant, St Margaret’s-At-Cliffe
Run by the same family for over 20 years, The Smugglers has built its reputation by serving delicious, home-cooked food in a traditional pub atmosphere. As well as offering a large selection lagers, ciders and real ales, they feature a new ‘Guest Real Ale’ most weeks, such as Rosey Nosey from Batesmans Brewery, and Bombardier from Charles Wells Brewery.
The Smugglers Bar and Restaurant, High Street, St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Dover CT15 6AU
The King’s Arms, Sandwich
The King’s Arms is quintessentially English, and has been serving quality food and drink since 1580. The privately owned inn has retained the original building’s charm and character, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind while you’re in the historic Cinque Port of Sandwich. Have a delicious meal, enjoy a refreshing pint, and even stay the night.
The King’s Arms, Strand Street, Sandwich CT13 9HN
The Churchill Tavern, Ramsgate
The sea view and relaxed atmosphere are just two of the many reasons you should visit The Churchill Tavern. How about a fantastic range of beers and ales on tap, hearty British food, live music and a warm welcome? Sound tempting? We recommend the Sunday roast (specifically the roast Guinness and honey-glazed ham), paired with a refreshing, cold ale from local breweries Canterbury Ales or Gadd’s.
The Churchill Tavern, 19-21 Paragon, Ramsgate CT11 9JX
The Powell Bar & Restaurant, Birchington
The Powell has perfectly combined the more traditional elements of a British pub with food and décor of the 21st century. The pub has a cosy feel with contemporary touches, and the menu boasts some gorgeous selections, including confit red onion and brie tart, or chestnut mushroom pappardelle carbonara. Of course there’s lots of choice when it comes to drink, too.
The Powell Bar & Restaurant, 11 The Square, Birchington CT7 9AF
The Haywain at Bramling, nr Canterbury
Offering locally sourced meat and vegetables (and even eggs from their own chickens), The Haywain is a quintessential countryside Kentish pub. They’ve been recognised with a CAMRA silver award for Canterbury Pub of the Year 2017, and for good reason. They offer beers from local breweries and from around the country, and serve a variety of delicious home-cooked meals.
The Haywain, Bramling, Nr Canterbury CT3 1NB
The Plough Inn, Stalisfield
Get away from it all at this family-run rural pub, convenient to Maidstone, Canterbury, Sittingbourne, Faversham and Ashford. They offer a wide selection of local beers, wines and ciders, plus a delicious offering of traditional dishes, and some with a ‘special twist’ such as confit duck and sweet potato bon bons, or a 28-day dry-aged Buccleuch Scotch steak.
The Plough Inn, Stalisfield Road, Faversham ME13 0HY
The Swan Inn, Little Chart
The Swan Inn is a lovely 15th-century building, still boasting the original coaching stables, and looks as welcoming on the outside as the service is inside. Whether you choose to whet your appetite inside the cosy restaurant or outside in the riverside garden, you’re sure to find a beer, wine or mouth-watering meal to tickle your tastebuds.
The Swan Inn, Swan Lane, Ashford TN27 0QB
The Swan & Dog, Ashford
From handmade burgers and 35-day dry-aged Scottish steak, to their Gastro Ribs and fajitas, The Swan & Dog offers a fantastic selection (try the baby squid with Spanish sausage!). It has a cosy interior and spacious outdoor area, and caters equally for vegetarians, meat-lovers and children.
The Swan & Dog, The Street, Great Chart, Ashford TN23 3AN
The Bull at Benenden
The picturesque village of Benenden wouldn’t be complete without a picturesque pub. Say hello to The Bull at Benenden. Sitting on the edge of the village green, you can enjoy real ales, local cider, fine wines and of course, delicious home-cooked food. Top it all off with a jolly traditional pub atmosphere and impeccable service, and you might just have the perfect pub.
The Bull at Benenden, The Street, Benenden TN17 4DE
The Flower Pot, Maidstone
Winner of the CAMRA Kent Pub of the Year 2017, you won’t be surprised to learn that The Flower Pot has an impressive offering of real ales and ciders (up to 13 different choices at a time from local and national brewers). They’re not into “fancy stuff”, just simple, freshly prepared pub-style food, good beer, and fabulous music throughout the week.
The Flower Pot, 96 Sandling Road, Maidstone ME14 2RJ
The Ferry House Inn, Isle of Sheppey
Two-time winner of the Taste of Kent Awards Dining Pub of the Year, you know you won’t be disappointed when you visit The Ferry House Inn. They farm their own beef, shoot their own game and grow their own herbs and veg in their extensive kitchen gardens – can’t get much fresher than that! Add on top a fine selection of drinks, and even overnight accommodation, and you won’t want to leave.
The Waterman’s Arms, Wouldham
The Waterman’s Arms is all about community spirit, and great food and drink. Take a walk along the Pilgrim’s Way, and stop in for a hearty meal and a drink – you’ll get a warm welcome in winter with two log burners, and can enjoy the sunshine during the summer months in the beer garden, complete with a large play area for the kids.
The Waterman’s Arms, 151 High Street, Wouldham ME1 3TY
The Leather Bottle, Cobham
If you want history and tradition, a visit to The Leather Bottle is a must. The building is just how you’d imagine a traditional pub to look: dark wooden beams, leafy vines crawling up the exterior, and a warm, welcoming restaurant. It’s known to many as Charles Dickens’ favourite ale house in Cobham – he not only frequented the pub, he often stayed in rooms 2 and 6, and also featured it in The Pickwick Papers.
The Leather Bottle, 54-56 The Street, Cobham DA12 3BZ
The Fighting Cocks, Horton Kirby
Stunning views, a modern restaurant set in a large glass conservatory and seasonal dishes are just a few of the things that make The Fighting Cocks one of the most popular pubs in the area. Enjoy classic beef bourguignon alongside a perfectly matched red wine (or a real ale if you prefer), or just relax outside by the river and let the kids play.
The Fighting Cocks, The Street, Horton Kirby DA4 9BY
The George & Dragon, Chipstead
Brought back to life in 2009 by current owner Benjamin James, The George and Dragon offers a daily changing menu using the best local produce. The meat is free range or organic and the vegetables are sourced from local farms, and dishes include celeriac and truffle oil risotto, roasted lamb rump with spring greens and bashed carrots, and pork and chorizo burger with applewood smoked cheese. This is gastropub dining at its finest.
The George & Dragon, 39 High Street, Chipstead, Sevenoaks TN13 2RW
King Henry VIII, Hever
Promising “food fit for a king”, this historic English pub, with its authentic oak beams, open fires and panelled bars, offers a fine selection of Kentish ales and beers, alongside hearty, wholesome dishes. Taking the crown for Pub Food of the Year in the 2016 Shepherd Neame Pub Awards, the King Henry VIII offers mouth-watering options including Moroccan spiced chargrilled chicken burger, or crab and king prawn linguine.
King Henry VIII, Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NH
Foresters Arms, Tonbridge
Pizza and beer…such a brilliant combination. And if you want some of the best, you have to check out the Foresters Arms in Tonbridge, where you’ll find a great selection of cask ales and lagers from Shepherd Neame, plus some seriously good pizza, such as the Ortolana (red peppers, eggplant, courgette, tomato and mozzarella) or the Fresca (rocket, cheeky tomatoes, parmesan, tomato and mozzarella).
Foresters Arms, 52 Quarry Hill, Tonbridge
Fuggles Beer Café, Tunbridge Wells
Oh Fuggles, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Fuggles just oozes effortless style – it’s one of those places you can’t wait to get back to. The café specialises in the best British and European beers, along with great spirits, coffee and of course, food. They boast 22 ever-changing draught lines including four cask ales, real ciders and over 100 speciality and rare bottles.
Fuggles Beer Café, 28 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2AP