Top 12 cosy pubs to try
Snow’s coming, you say? Are you kidding me?! We’ve had a brilliant run of mild weather, but winter’s definitely getting ready to hit where it hurts.
Nothing for it, then, but to dig out the ski socks, choose one of these supercosy pubs to take refuge in (with great food of course) and order in a bottle of red. This is just a starter list really because I could have gone on and on! See how these ones fit for size and if you feel that I’ve made a horrific error in omitting your totally awesome local pop a comment on the bottom and I’ll go and review it pronto for you.
The Three Chimneys, Biddenden
If it’s character and charm you’re after, then this pub has it in spades. While there’s been lots of attractive updates and improvements (like the relandscaped garden area and stylish new B & B rooms) the owner has also been very savvy about what not to do. He’s retained the pubby feel and original country charm. On entering the bar is all low beams wrapped in hops and dusty books decorating inglenook fireplaces. Beers, bitters and the like are sold from casks behind the bar – in short it’s the kind of gastro pub that Mr Muddy Kent loves – no glossy Farrow & Ball refurb here.
The Wheatsheaf Bough Beach
The Wheatsheaf in Bough Beech is an age-old watering hole (dates back to the 14th century – fact fans) offering modern British dishes. With the gorgeous combination of Georgian high ceilings and Tudor beams the dining space evokes a by-gone era. Nab one of the comfortable sofas perched next to crackling open fires or prop yourself up at the striking exposed-beam bar.
The George and Dragon, Speldhurst
This pub won the Best Destination Pub in Kent category in this year’s Muddy Awards – as voted by you – so I think that says a lot for starters. Formally a rustic 13th century inn – it’s got roaring log fires and dramatic oak beams, as well as seriously tasty food. Classic offerings sit alongside more elaborate dishes – like The Sunday Lunch Menu that offers Prime Aged Rump of Beef Roast and Red Leg Partridge. One for the foodies.
Henry VIII, Hever
This pub was recommended by Edenbridge Galleries (Winner of Best Emporium in Kent in my Muddy Awards) so when I was driving around Penshurst/Hever the other day I jumped out to have a little nosey. It was very pretty looking and busy on a mid-week lunchtime – always a good sign. I didn’t have time to stop for food *sob* but several locals have sung its praises and I particularly loved this cool and cosy covered outdoor area, where you could comfortably sit with a dog after a muddy ramble and enjoy a cheeky glass.
The Poet, Matfield
Named after the famous World War 1 poet, Siegfried Sassoon, whose family home was just up the road, The Poet offers very refined British fare. With its sophisticated menu this is another one for the foodies, each main dish is accompanied by a carefully-chosen wine recommendation and there’s craft gins on offer too. However the pub itself has a very laid back feel – so you’d be equally as welcome to just nibble on some bar snacks with a glass of wine after a winter’s amble. Matfield is a very pretty village and there’s loads of good walks on the doorstep.
The Beacon, Rusthall
Sitting high on the hill at Rusthall The Beacon falls somewhere between a pub and a restaurant. It mixes traditional, old school, country house charm with some wonderful modern touches, like windows into the kitchen so you can see the skilled chefs at work. The space is designed to feel like a home-from-home with bookshelves and fireplaces and a dog-friendly-area near the back door complete with a jar full of doggie treats. The food is sourced locally where possible, like the sausages my son devoured from Orchard Farm, Offham near West Malling.
The Compasses Inn, Crundale
Down narrow winding country roads, between Canterbury and Ashford, deep into the chocolate-box depths of the Kentish countryside you’ll find Crundale, home to this rising star in the pub and restaurant world. The Compasses Inn does not do fancy bells and whistles and – in terms of appearance – the pub is very pubby, in the best possible way. Despite its understated charm the food is exceptional – nothing too flashy just hearty honest cooking and oh, so tasty. But it’s definitely more of a restaurant than a pub in terms of its dining offering.
The Vineyard, Lamberhurst
This pretty pubs sits on the green in Lamberhurst and while it still has all the period features that keep it cosy – low ceilings, exposed brick, roaring fireplaces, it also has had a bit of a spruce up (think rustic chic). It’s a very kid-friendly pub, with a decent kid’s menu and great outside area (boot them out, it’s fine, kids don’t feel the cold.)
The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne
This pub has won awards for its cracking Sunday lunch and its weekend breakfasts have a good rep too. Makes for a great day out – start with a slap up Sunday meal (brekkie or lunch you choose) then walk to nearby Ightham Mote (NT) – the Greensand Way walking route passes the front door. The pub’s country-house high ceilings, walls covered in a pleasingly random selection of books and pictures and fat candles on tables all add to the charm.
The Five Bells, Brabourne
This is a cool country pub idyllically located just footsteps from the Pilgrims Way in the tiny and picturesque North Downs village of Brabourne. Inside is a well-worn space, filled with quirky bits and bobs and offbeat rustic accoutrements, warmed by lush log fires. I have it on good authority that the food is top notch – and plan to go myself and review it for you soon.
Pearson’s Arms, Whitstable
One of the Kent pubs run by TV chef Richard Phillips this has all the hallmarks – stylish interiors, fabulous food and relaxed atmosphere. There’s the obvious emphasis on fresh fish (this is Whitstable folks) and a great choice too – not only is there a full A La Carte and Set Menu there’s also top quality Light Bite/Bar Snacks (no, not Pork Scratchings) which includes dishes like Fresh Rock Oysters with Sherry Vinegar Shallots, Tabasco or Crab Sandwich on Brown Bread, Lemon Mayonnaise & Rocket. De-licious.
The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom, Canterbury
The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom just outside Canterbury, is a traditional pub with a winning combination of cosy atmosphere, friendly staff and fabulous chef. The two- or three-course Set Lunch Menu caters for traditionalists as well as the more experimental, and is always seasonal, so currently winter warming fare. The food here is exceptional.