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18 best summer dining destinations

Here's some suggestions for where you can soak up some rays while you sip on your Whispering Angel in the sunshine. Slap on the sunscreen and enjoy the view!

Whether you want your green space overlooking a winery, a mural, a river, a meadow or a smallholding, we’ve scoured Kent for the best in show. I also love to hear your suggestions – as much as I bomb around trying out new places, you are the guys who live and breathe your local areas. So let us know your favourite places to eat out in the sunshine in the comments below.

Seafood at the Winery, Squerryes Dining Room & Terrace, Brasted

Last summer they launched their seafood tapas on the terrace for lunchtime weekend dining – but now the restaurant is open every day for both lunch and dinner – woohoo! Think mouth-watering seafood married with fresh seasonal ingredients from the 2,500 acre Squerryes estate – so bringing together the very best produce from our corner of England. For sun-filled days you’ll want to book a spot on the terrace overlooking the vines – this venue could easily pass for the south of France rather than just west of Sevenoaks. Offering tapas style sharing plates during the day or fine dining in the evening – you’ll love this unique eating out experience. Read the Muddy review here and visit squerryes.co.uk.

The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne 

Looking for a charming family-friendly pub, a beer garden to soak up the sun and a wondersome walk? Introducing The Chaser Inn – the original flagship venture for pub group Whiting and Hammond. Attracting regulars from near and far – this pub sits in the pretty Shipbourne countryside, over-looking the green-cum-common with lots of rural lanes to explore in the immediate area, so particularly popular with walkers and cyclists. Think standard pub fare rather than swanky dining, grab a table in the pretty side garden, bordered with hedges and shrubs and overlooked by the church. Read the full Muddy review or for their website: thechaser.co.uk

Galapagos at The Old Vine, Cousley Wood

A wonderful slice of South American sunshine on the Kent/Sussex border – offering something different that you just won’t find anywhere else. Galapagos is still a relatively new restaurant where you’ll find authentic Latin American dining in a rural 15th century pub – right in the heart of the High Weald’s stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Out the back there’s a pretty little beer garden and further seating at the front of the building. The rear beer garden is walled with a colourful mural, bringing a fun, bright and exotic feel to the setting. Why not make a day trip of it and walk the 40 mins round trip to Bewl Water and back? Read the full Muddy review or for their website: galapagos-restaurant.co.uk

The Leicester Arms, Penshurst

The Leicester Arms Hotel has been at the heart of Penshurst village for several centuries, once forming part of the Penshurst Estate. It is loved by locals, ramblers, cyclists, local businesses and over-nighters alike. The restaurant itself is kid-friendly, with a great menu (think Mini Battered Cod and Chips, Pasta and Tomato Sauce, Breaded Chicken Goujons and ice cream for pudding). Secondly there’s the beer garden outside lends itself well to stretching restless legs. Thirdly, the location is day-tripper heaven. You’ve got Penshurst Place a couple of hundred metres walk up the road (more on this below). Or Hever Castle 5 mins by car and the best is at the end of the Tudor Cycle Trail. Read the full Muddy Review or go to their website: theleicesterarmshotel.com

The Small Holding Farm & Kitchen, Kilndown

Not so much a pub as a rustic restaurant The Small Holding has been winning awards aplenty since opening in 2018 – including Best Restaurant in Kent in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019. Relaxed and welcoming it is definitely a foodie destination with the kitchen element being the star of the show. Sitting on an acre of land on which chef Will Devlin grows the produce you eat (salads, veggies, pigs, ducks and chickens) – hence the name. And brother Matt is a great knowledge on the wine/drink side. Best of all you’ve got the sunny decked area at the front that overlooks the smallholding where you can soak up the sun – perfect for weekend walkers. Read our full review here. thesmallholding.restaurant

The Duke William, Ickham

Have you discovered this rural pub which boasts one of our favourite beer gardens – and the food is as good as the view? That’s the Duke William for you, an attractive pub in the heart of the tiny, idyllic village of Ickham. This is one of Mark Sargeant’s eateries, so you’re in safe hands food-wise, and it also boasts one of the most picturesque beer gardens you can imagine, complete with open views across corn fields. And a brilliantly convenient children’s play area too. Read the full Muddy Review or visit their website: thedukewilliamickham.com

The Fordwich Arms, Fordwich

The Fordwich Arms received a Michelin star just 10 months after the day they opened and Chef-patron, Daniel Smith, was recently awarded Observer’s Young Chef of the Year which is pretty good endorsement. It’s the winning mix of a great Kent pub that just so happens to serve exquisite food which affirms once again why it’s really not that bad living in the sticks. The trail from the village of Fordwich to the Reed Pond is meant to be good – apparently the pond once supplied the monks of Canterbury with water (fact fans). To top it all – the riverside location means in the summer months you can enjoy the beautiful dining terrace and garden with views over the river Stour. fordwicharms.co.uk

The Milk House, Sissinghurst

Make use of the outside bar – TMH Hopper Hut – inspired by the temporary huts provided for hop-pickers on Kentish farms in the 19th century. Or snaffle the tasty pizza from the traditional wood-fired pizza oven on the terrace – there’s lots of outdoor eating and drink options here. This village pub is at the heart of the community (running events such as the popular weekend-long fun, family food festival called Milk Fest – see you there this August). With four beautiful bedrooms you can stay and explore Sissinghurst – with the historic castle and gardens just half a mile’s walk from the pub. Read more herethemilkhouse.co.uk

The Mark Cross Inn, Mark Cross

Just 5 miles from Tunbridge Wells in the heart of the countryside, you’ll find The Mark Cross Inn – a down-to-earth destination, great for families – with a stunning view, lots of outside space and a decent children’s play area (go on boot them out!). And it’s got loads of country walks near by and the Sussex Country Gardener (decent garden centre) just over the road this is the kind of place you can drop in with the family for some relaxed weekend or after school dining. Just look at that view. Read the full Muddy review or pop over to their website: themarkcross.co.uk

The Dove, Dargate

The Dove at Dargate, is a stunning Gastropub set in the heart of the Kent countryside, only 15 minutes by car from either Faversham, Canterbury or Whitstable. They’ve got live music events planned throughout the summer with David Shepherd playing on Sat 3rd Aug and Nicky on Sat 24th Aug – they will both be singing on their stage in the beer garden! dovedargate.co.uk 

The Mount Edgcumbe, Tunbridge Wells

A charming Gastro-Pub in Tunbridge Wells with a really tasty menu and a spacious beer-garden offering the view of the Tunbridge Wells Commons and sandstone rocks. Sit down for a meal or grab a couple of drinks and share a few of their summer plates with friends. themountedgcumbe.com

The Little Brown Jug, Chiddingstone Causeway

The food here is typically pubby, but decent enough, the staff are friendly and will squeeze you in even when the pub is bulging (and it’s a very popular destination with locals). It deserves a special mention for the beer garden huts which are open all year round and seat up to 8. You can roll the sides down for privacy or warmth and they’re plugged into the mains, providing heating and lighting – you also get table service instead or ordering at the bar. This is also a family-friendly pub with a children’s play area just visible through the trees. thelittlebrownjug.co.uk

The Vineyard, Lamberhurst

If you’re looking for a relaxed lunch out with the family you can’t go wrong with this friendly, rural pub. The outside dining space overlooks the large beer garden, so let the kids loose, grab a corner garden sofa or sit on one of the dining stools near the outside bar and pretend you’re on holiday. The garden is complete with play equipment, table tennis and enough room to kick a football – meaning you might get five minutes to enjoy a glass of something cold in the sunshine. The Burger Shack (open Fri – Sun and bank holidays) has a separate menu to the main dining area, offering pork, chicken, lamb or 100 percent English beef burgers – or our personal favourite, the veggie chickpea, jackfruit & tahini burger. elitepubs.com

The Three Chimneys, Biddenden

Nestled in the most scenic surrounds, near Biddenden, this is an exceptional pub. The food is fabulous, there’s loads of pockets of outside space – from sunspot terraces in which to sink an afternoon rosé to the spacious back garden where kids can roam freely (although it’s a more grown up space – personally I’d prefer to enjoy this one Mini Muddy-free). There’s some lovely luxury rooms here too if you wanted to make an over-nigther out of it. Read the full review herethethreechimneys.co.uk

The Three Mariners, Oare

Long a local community hub in the waterside village of Oare, and overlooking the river leading to The Swale, near Faversham, The Three Mariners also draws diners from far and wide having made a few waves in the foodie world. If you’re anywhere in the Faversham, Sittingbourne or Whitstable area it’s well worth a visit as it sits conveniently in the centre of those three east Kent towns. Read the full review herethethreemarinersoare.co.uk

Kentish Hare, Bidborough

A modern, smart looking pub standing proud in the middle of genteel Bidborough, (just north of Tunbridge Wells towards Tonbridge). This pub-cum-restaurant is owned by The Tanner brothers who are well-known in the foodie trade and the pub has rightly won an award or two. From kids, to grandparents or a meal out with friends – everyone is catered for here. The interiors are stylish, the food top notch and there’s a decent pocket of outside space too. Read our full review herethekentishhare.com

The Red Lion, Stodmarsh 

This pub, located near Canterbury, has been around for centuries and has just gone under new management, which has injected it with a great new lease of life. The pub classics are there but with a sophisticated twist – but it’s the beer garden that wins the prize with its colourful picnic tables and uninterrupted views of the countryside ahead. There are also two newly refurbished and very stylish rooms upstairs. More info herefacebook.com/RLStodmarsh

The Compasses Inn, Canterbury 

A favourite with foodies, hidden above the Downs between Canterbury and Ashford, the Compasses Inn is a great rural country pub whether you’re on a food road trip or looking for a pitstop while cycling or walking. There’s a large mini muddy-friendly beer garden at the back complete with free range chickens and climbing frames (for the children not the chickens). Read the Muddy review here. thecompassescrundale.co.uk

 

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