Eat here: Kent’s top gastropubs revealed
The Top 50 Gastropub Awards just took place – celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of that food-led phenomenon, the great British pub that serves awesome grub. Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and voted for by industry insiders this is the shortlist that really matters in the pub grub world. Kent has 3 fabulous pubs in the Top 25 – each very wonderfully different in their offering – The Sportsman (seaside), The Kings Head (urbane cool) and The Compasses Inn (rural). Have you tried them yet?
The Sportsman, Whitstable – No.2
This Michelin starred pub is very low key – even describing itself on Twitter as the ‘grotty rundown pub by the sea’. But this is a bit tongue in cheek as last year it made the No.1 spot for best gastro pub in the whole country (this year it came in a very healthy No.2). They just don’t buy into pretentiousness and there’s a really laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. Mr Muddy and I visited on a weekend trip last May. The menu was simple but perfectly executed and the fish could not have tasted fresher (it’s right by the sea just outside Whitstable). We had one of the most relaxing and delicious lunches followed by a walk along the beach. It felt like we’d had a mini break all in the space of about 5 hours!
Faversham Rd, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP, Tel:01227 273370; thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk
The Compasses Inn, Canterbury – No. 17
This rural pub is found deep into the chocolate-box depths of the Kentish countryside, down narrow winding country roads tucked away in the village of Crundale, between Canterbury and Ashford. Having heard great things, I visited last year, keen to stuff myself silly and file a full report, which you can read here. Husband and wife team, Rob and Donna Taylor describe their pub as a ‘muddy wellies and fine food kind of place,’ which sums it up perfectly. Since they took it over four years ago, they’ve transformed the menu and refurbished the restaurant a bit but very much kept the country pub style – garlands of hops, low beams and inglenook fireplaces.
The Compasses Inn, Sole Street, Crundale, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 7ES, Tel: 01227 700 300, thecompassescrundale.co.uk
The Kings Head, Wye – No. 25
Last year this pub appeared on my Muddy radar as a rising star – so I paid it a visit some months ago (read my review here). Having undergone a massive refurb three years ago The Kings Head describes itself as a ‘restaurant with rooms’ and it’s that wonderful mix of urbane cool interior in a gorgeously quaint historic village setting. If you haven’t yet explored the Kent countryside at the foot of the North Downs (and just North East of Ashford) – Wye is definitely worth a visit. It’s a gorgeous location and after sampling the fab food at The Kings Head you can roll up the stairs to collapse in one of the pubs’ recently revamped stylish ensuite bedrooms…