Well..... We fancied a nice afternoon pub lunch, but what we had was beyond obismal... We stumbled upon the kentish Horse in markbeech near Edenbridge. My wife and I wondered in to be welcomed by a less than helpful man. He seemed to have a certain annoyance about our presence, there for we felt more welcome at a strangers funeral. We asked for a food menu and were given a leaflet our 4 year old child could have made. We decideed to give the food a go as you can't judge a book by it's cover. there wasn't a huge variety to the choices but we still gave it a go. One meal was fine, although it was obviously all put in the fryer at the same time, I had ordered the fish and chips, so undoubtably the chips tasted more of fish than the fish. This wasn't even the worse meal. My wife had ordered the curry. They advertise that all food is freshly sourced, so believe it or not we were hoping for a beautifully served fresh vegtable curry. What we were presented with was unbelievable. To start with the fresh veg we assumed to have was infact FROZEN!! This was ridiculous, not only this but the curry itself had no flavour. I complained on my wifes behalf and they offered to change meals. before we had to make our annoyance known, we left the food in view of the staff to see if they would say anything. They didn't. I had to explain to the bar staff why we didn't want the dish. he said he would swap the dish. my wife opted for a safe bet with a baggette. On finishing our meals we went to pay. Some how the tab had reached over £25, this was apparently due to us having to pay for the curry?! When is this acceptable? He said it was as 'she didn't like it', the reason 'she didn't like it' was it was not a fresh meal. He then went to ask permission to let us not pay for the curry. He came back with the manager who blanked us through out the transaction then huffed off back to the kitchen. All the while no member of staff appologised for the bad meal, slow service of just plain rudeness from the manager.
The great thing about pubs in kent is that they are so close together, making them perfect for the pub crawl experience. Pubs have always been a great tradition in kent. From the age old days where the pub was the centre of existence to the modern days where they provide the perfect haven to meet you're mates. The fact that Kent is also a centre for the tradition of hop and barley growing also means that the pubs have an excellent range of classic beers on tap. The whole of Kent has many fine public houses, but i find that the best old traditional style pub is to be found in the maidstone/canturbury area. Due to the age of the establishments (many of which have been around since the 17th and 18th centuries), they have a feeling and atmosphere only available in such a pub, it can not be manufactured. The age of the pubs also ensures that there are many pubs in a relatively small area. This means that you can easily go on a tour of the public houses of an area - especially fun for idle university students who happen to have the day free! The only disadvantage I can see is that the size of the old pubs tends to make them crowded - of course this can also be all part of the fun! You can not beat the age, style, atmosphere and general friendliness and ease of the public houses in Kent.
Kent has some really lovely pubs, as well as its fair share of grotty ones! However, I shall hereby sing the praises of one of my favourites: The Toad Rock Retreat, in Denny Bottom just outside Tunbridge Wells is wonderful. Though rebuilt following a fire a few years ago, it still retains its charm and has a cosy feel to it, fitting in extremely well with the surrounding village area. There is a good selection of drinks at pretty standard prices (£2.10 a pint, £1.50 for a shot) with guest ales, 'Beer of the month' at a discount price and a good selection for children. The food is also excellent, ranging from 16oz steaks to filled baguettes - I recommend the Toad Burgers which are a challenge for anyone's appetite! They also have a children's menu. The interior is all wood, with hops around the beams and several apt inscriptions over the bar. Outside there is a patio area and in the summer an elevated garden. For entertainment inside there is a bar billiards table and dart board, a selection of games behind the bar and live music every Thursday from 9pm. So if you are in the area, I would recommend a visit. Toad Rock itself is well signposted from the town centre of Tunbridge Wells as a Tourist attraction, and once nearing this there are large signs for the pub.
This is one of the best public houses that I have been to in the Medway area. The pub is situated in Gillingham next to the town’s car parks. It is an old traditional Free House the pub is owned by Dave & Jackie and of course the dog named Roly, selling all types of real ale also has guest lagers and many other drinks available. There is a restaurant, old style away from the bar so if you fancy a meal you can use its restaurant entrance on the Main road they serve food every day and in the evenings Thursday, Friday & Saturday there is a Chef who cooks out of this world. All the food is freshly produced full of alcohol and cream if you want.
Now that the sun has come out there is nothing nicer than sitting out in the sun, with a lovely ice cold drink. And in Bromley there is no better place to do it but at the Abbaye. The Abbaye is a Belgian restaurant cum bar situated at the back a the shopping centre The Glades and facing directly onto a lovely park. I have often been here of an evening to have a meal and it is lovely at night as well. There are tables where you can sit outside but as these get filled up pretty quickly in the hot weather most people tend to bring a picnic blanket and sit on the grass to sunbathe. You are allowed to take you drinks out into the park to drink which is very unusual for a London park and you can even order snacks such as chicken and frites which the obliging waiters will bring out to you spot on the grass. The atmosphere is just like being on holiday, everyone is happy and relaxed and having a good time. The boys are happy drinking their Belgian Leffe beer and watching the girls in their skimpy summer clothes. For the girls to drink there is fruit flavoured Belgian beers (plum, blackcurrant, banana, pear, peach and raspberry) or any number of spirits and mixers - the most popular at the moment being Vodka and cranberry juice. I went with my boyfriend, but their were groups of men and women both on their own and mixed as well as some families - everyone was enjoying themselves. Even though a big football match was on the television there were a number of guys just relaxing in the sun (perhaps there was no trouble because all the football hooligans were at home watching the match!) surprising when you consider that the Abbaye doesn't have a television. I spent a good few hours sitting out here in the sun and had one of the nicest weekends that I have had all year (of course I am a typical Leo that loves the sun!) If you have a place such as this in you area then I can't think of many nicer ways to spend your weekend with out going on holiday, it is a fairly cheap way to spend a weekend and I even found that I didn't mind so much going back to work on Monday morning (especially as it was cold and grey again!)
This unpretentious back street local, in Arden Street, is an absolute find. Their range of real ales is terrific with at least 3 or 4 on at any time. Many of these come from the slightly more obscure breweries and this is one of the few pubs in the area where you can sample these beers. All their beers are kept in tip top condition. The pub has a large beer garden for the kids. the pub does not do food, with the exception of the landlady's legendary doorstep sandwiches, four from a loaf, which are very generously filled and a snip at a quid each. If you don't know the area it takes a bit of finding but its worth the search.
About two years ago the Poachers Pocket was my regular, I used the Pub at least three times a week! It was anice pub with a lively atmosphere! Then it started to go down hill and kept going in that direction. Since then I stopped going in there until very recently, A new land lord called Tony has got the place and has really done it up well. He has spent a hell of a lot of money on it and turned it into a very nice pub/resturant. It has about 30 Tables in it to eat, which by the way is a very large menu and even larger meals, the plates on some meals are 17" and they get filled!!!! But unlike some pub/resturants the people in there for a drink are not standing by the people who are eating. There is loads of room between the tables and the "bar" for people who just wanna drink is "round the other side!" On a saturday night they stop serving food at 7:30 as they have some sort of entertainment which is normally pretty good! Overall it's a great pub!
This is one of the nicest public houses that I have been to in the Maidstone area. Situated on the Grove Green Estate just outside of Maidstone and next to Tescos. It is based on an old traditional kentish style and has a built in oast. The pub is owned by Shepherd Neame, a kent based brewer,selling mainly Shepherd Neame produce but also has guest lagers and many other drinks available. There is a resturant to the side that serves food most of the day and in the evenings. On Wednesday and Saturday nights the pub hosts a band night, this can get abit load at times, but is very enjoyable.
The Malta is one of the nicest pubs in the Maidstone area. This pub is at its best in the summer as it is situated right on the River Medway. It is lovely on a summers evening to moor up your boat outside (if you are lucky enough to have one!), have a drink and then a nice romantic walk along the river. The Malta is always busy and with a great age range of people. You get single people, couples, young families and older people. There are two reasons for this. The first is that obviously so many people enjoy the setting and the second is that it is owned by the Beefeater chain. The restuarant is upstairs and I have never have a bad meal there. The pub part is quite large and they serve bar meals and snacks. For children there is a lovely play area set outside so no-one is forgotten. The only problem with the Malta is that you have to drive to it as it isnt covered by public transport. The good news is that there is a hotel right next door so if the temptation for a few drinks gets too much then there is a simple solution!