Muddy eats: The Kings Head, Wye
If you haven’t yet explored the Kent countryside at the foot of the North Downs (and just North East of Ashford) – here’s 3 reasons Why you should visit Wye. 1) It’s gorgeous location. 2) The fab food at The Kings Head pub and 3) Cool place to stay alert! The pub has just revamped 8 ensuite stylish bedrooms…
Not surprisingly, it was a friend in the food trade that first mentioned this pub to me as it’s very much a rising star at the moment. 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.
This pub has been shortlisted in this year’s Great British Pub Awards, won Restaurant of the Year in the Shepherd Neame Awards and *cough* most importantly, lays claim to the most distinguished accolade of all – the Muddy Stilettos Award for Best Casual Dining in Kent.
I visited on a sunny day, was lucky enough to squeeze the car in a spot on one of the village side streets and enjoyed a friendly welcome upon stepping through the doors. It’s a small, intimate pub, run by Scott Richardson and Mark Lightford. Scott’s originally a music producer and he gets the hospitality side of the business. Mark’s clearly creative – his photography decorates the walls – thus making for a decent gastro pub team. This is definitely a ‘dining pub’ – style is central from the grey painted walls to the leather armchairs.
With me was my girl friend Sarah and I should say here, while there’s a relaxed vibe, I don’t think this would be a place I’d take the Mini Muddies. The vibe is a bit more grown up and the outside space is smart, but small. But that’s fine by me – it’s important to have an arsenal of both go-to pubs for girlie lunches as well as pubs with huge beer gardens for emergency boot-the-kids-out-of-the-building moments.
And on that note, one glance at the menu told me the pub knows its client base well. Lots of girlie-lunch friendly options – light dishes or Sharing Plates – to choose from. Even the glass of Damascene Rose Bubbly we are thoughtfully recommended in the light and airy bar is well thought through – an alcohol free drink served in a champagne glass and the perfect option for Mums who love their fizz but still have school pick up to contend with (cliché, moi?). They stock Gusbourne Brut Reserve, if you want genuine English sparkling wine. Where possible everything on the menu is made from scratch – from the butter to the marshmallows.
Sarah, a vegetarian, had the Falafel, Flatbread & Salad (above) and I ate from the Specials board – Catch of the Day fish with Butter Bean Casserole (above). Sooo delicious and very filling.
Everything was beautifully presented and the food tasted as good as it looks. Wonderfully fresh Kent strawberries with homemade vanilla ice-cream and homemade honeycomb. Feeling peckish yet?
Okay so, as predicted those home-made Brownies were delicious (you can buy some to take away at the bar), but have you ever tried home-made marshmallows? They taste *so* much better than the shop-bought variety. Just eyeing up this photo makes me salivate…
Mark and Scott are big on promoting local Kentish produce, and sell some of it, like these flavoured oils (above), in the pub and support local on the menu. Meats are supplied from local farmers or the Good’s Shed in Canterbury. If you’re just popping in for a drink the bar also offers fresh locally baked goodies, like the chunky quality sausage roll I took home for Mr Muddy Kent (how very thoughtful of me)…
The rooms (pic below) have just been revamped and the original four have become eight stylish en-suites. The style is contemporary, minimalist perfection. I imagine they’ll do well as Wye is a great springboard for Canterbury (just 15 mins by train) and nearby Ashford international station goes high speed direct to London or Paris. Although Wye is rural the pub is right in the heart of Church Street, the main thoroughfare in the village – and the rooms overlook the street below, this is by no means a noisy road.
I had to tank it back for school pick up, but if it’s a lovely day give yourself half an hour to wander around Wye – there’s lots of lovely local walks which the staff would be more than happy to recommend.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Friends looking for a quality meal out in stylish but relaxed surroundings; informal business meetings, girly lunches. Dog walkers – four-legged friends are welcomed here. Anyone walking or driving through and in need of a quick drink and take away bite from the bar.
Not for: Big groups of kids – it’s a friendly pub, but wasted on energetic littlies. Anyone wanting a rural setting with sweeping views of cornfields. The pub is in the heart of the village although the countryside is only moments away.
£££: Reasonable prices for gastropub – lunches start at £8 (like Smoked Salmon & Chive Omelette or Club Sandwich). From the Main Menu – Starters and Sharing Plates start at £6, Mains around £12 – £18 and Salads can be ordered in two sizes, (Starter or Main). Standard Double Room costs £100 and includes English breakfast. Staying the night next time might not be a bad idea as it’s a bit of a cross country drive for me. So would I come back? Most definitely.