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Muddy eats: The Dog, Wingham

THE LOCATION

You’ll find The Dog in picturesque Wingham which is rather superbly located on the road that links Canterbury and Sandwich. Tongues and tails have been wagging about this place since its opening just one year ago so I decided it was about time I sniffed it out (yes there will be lots of doggie puns). After a scenic (and quicker than expected) drive cross country I visited last week – and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Sit nicely now while I give you the lowdown…

THE VIBE

This place is stylish, cute and cosy all rolled into one. The pub is very much a family run affair, which you can sense in the friendly atmosphere. Owner Marc Bridgen, and his family took on the project of transforming the pub over a year ago and in just 4 months changed the entire interior of the place. Marc’s mum, Marilyn is an interior designer who personally oversaw the look of the restaurant, terrace and rooms. When I visited I was greeted by Manager, Hugh, who was chatty and personable and if it’s his day off then his brother, Will, is probably on duty. They both live in the village. Talented Head Chef, Tom Dawson, has been with them since day one and worked on the refurb. It’s that kind of place. Here, let me guide you around…

SCOFF/QUAFF

The menu was wonderfully seasonal and is changed daily – all ingredients are prepared from scratch, (like the tasty ice cream) or sourced locally, (like the delicious bread from the bakery up the road). One of chef’s speciality dishes is the Blackened beef bavette, as ordered by my friend and lunch companion, Debbie. She sung its praises – using words like ‘proper thick steak’ and ‘mouth-wateringly tender…’ Or, to put it another way; it was the dog’s bollocks.

For our Starters we ate Pea Soup, slow cooked hen’s egg and crips shallot (me) and Confit duck & foie gras terrine, cherries & brioche (Debbie). Then for Mains, Debbie had Blackened beef bavette, saffron fondant potato, heritage carrots and fennel and I stuffed myself silly with Pan-fried cod, minted new potatoes, pea compote & lemon sauce. Oh and then there was the Pineapple upside-down cake and White chocolate panna cotta with strawberry compote (pictured below) to squeeeeze in too, but of course…

And as if you’re not already tempted enough, the bar boasts 50 different gins. Try them all and stumble to one of the pub’s boutique rooms (more on these below…)

KID-FRIENDLY?

Kids are welcome here, but there’s no specific kids menu. They can order off the main menu and portions can be done at half size for half the price. However if you’ve got younger kids or fussy blighters (like mine) you might struggle with this grown up menu. I’m just being honest and that’s just my mudlets – yours may like Onion tart tatin and Skate wing for all I know.

OUT & ABOUT

Remember me yapping on earlier about what a great location Wingham is? Well head 15 minutes west and you’ve got all the sights and shops of Canterbury. 15 minutes east and you’ve got the characterful small town of Sandwich – a golfers paradise as well as being by the sea.

But even closer to the pub, like literally on The Dog’s doorstep, are two great locations for a family day out. The pub’s less than 10 mins drive from Howletts Wild Animal Park and 5 mins drive from Wingham Wildlife Park.

Also on the last Wednesday of every month you can join in The Dog, Walking Club. It’s the chance for walkers (with or without a four-legged friend) to socialise (with the other walkers), exercise (in the stunning local scenery) and refuel (afterwards you enjoy a two-course lunch including a glass of house wine, for £25 per person).

ANYTHING ELSE?

I noticed that Marc greets many visitors by name and it’s clear that The Dog really wants to be at the heart of the local community. As well as the walking club there’s Wine & Food pairing nights – anything that brings people together. And if you’re not from the immediate area you can still expect a warm welcome. The pub boasts 8 beautifully designed bedrooms – all with en suite bathrooms. I recognise Marilyn’s design style and am not suprised when Marc confirms that she also designed the interiors of the Crescent Turner Hotel in Whitstable where Mr Muddy and I have stayed.

Stay between Sun – Thurs and a 2-course dinner and bed & breakfast starts at just £99. Go away with the other half and stay in this four-poster bed suite (above) or bring the kids and stay in the family suite. The family suite, complete with bunk beds is in a separate area of the pub called The Doghouse and could house a larger group, which is good to know.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Day trippers, romantic getaway or business stays.

Not for: Kids that haven’t yet developed a more sophisticated palate.

The damage: The Set Lunch Menu is particularly good value: 2 courses for £15, 3 for £18. À la carte is slightly more as you’d expect – Starters £6- £8; Mains £16 – £19.50; Puddings £6.50 – £8.50. B&B prices: Double and Twin rooms from £110. Family room (sleeps 4) £180 per night.

The Dog At Wingham, Canterbury Road, Wingham, Nr Canterbury, Kent, CT3 1BB, Tel: 01227 720339, thedog.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent