18 brill beer gardens
Wowzers, what a summer we're having! Get thee to a pub garden pronto, I say. Pint of lager for me and a small white wine spritzer for the husband, thanks!
I’ve been to a gazillions of pubs in Kent on *cough* Muddy duty and have drawn together this scratch list, admittedly half cut late in the evening, but hopefully with a degree of knowledge and insight. Yeah yeah, I’ve probably left some goodies off, and if you think there has been a libellous omission, genuinely please let me know – I love to hear suggestions and much as I bomb around trying out new places, you are the guys who live and breathe your local areas. I hope these suggestions help you have a wonderful weekend. Slap on the sunscreen and enjoy the view!
The Duke William, Ickham
Sitting deep in the chocolate-box depths of the Kentish countryside, this pub boasts a big-name chef, Mark Sargeant who is ex-Ramsay. With one of the most picturesque beer gardens you can imagine – open views across corn fields – and top notch food, you can’t go wrong here.
The Mark Cross Inn, Mark Cross
Just 5 miles from Tunbridge Wells in the heart of the countryside. Open 7 days a week and serving food all day, The Mark Cross is a down-to-earth destination, great for families – with a stunning view, lots of outside space and decent children’s play area.
Chafford Arms, Fordcombe
A picturesque, traditional English pub nestled in the small village of Fordcombe. The view across the weald makes for the perfect setting, bring your dog and sit outside with plenty of space for everyone in their huge garden.
The Tickled Trout, Wye
For more than 400 years, an Inn or Tavern has stood on the banks of the river Stour and this pub, not far from Ashford, maintains that ‘olde world’ charm. Serves decent pubby food, is popular with locals and the perfect place to enjoy a pint while watching the swans glide past.
The Mount Edgecumbe, 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.
Leicester Arms, Penshurst
Located in the beautiful Kent village of Penshurst and opposite the stunning Penshurst Place, The Leicester Arms is a beautiful hotel, restaurant and bar. Chill out on their sun terrace, popular with the locals and plenty of parking.
The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne
In this picturesque village, not far outside Tonbridge, this pub enjoys the pretty parish church as a backdrop alongside serene views over the village green. Makes for a great day out – start with a slap up Sunday meal then walk to Ightham Mote (NT) – the Greensand Way walking route passes the front door.
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 cost only £25 to hire, seating 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.
The Vineyard, Lamberhurst
Another family-friendly pub, this beer garden is also home to a brilliant outside Bar & Grill in the summer months. Mr Muddy is a particular fan of the Grilled Whole Langoustines while the kids always love their Chicken Burger and Chips. This is a great kid-friendly outdoor space or the perfect place for you to enjoy a pint/Pimms (delete were appropriate) on a lazy summer’s day.
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).
The Windmill, Hollingbourne
Run by TV chef Richard Phillips this offers a range of good grub, ales and wines for thirsty passers-by and avid foodies alike. In the summer sit out and soak up the rays while enjoying the new BBQ and smokery where the food is cooked right in front of your eyes, every Saturday and Sunday (as well as bank holiday Mondays).
The Barrow House, Egerton
A gorgeous refurbed pub (run by the team behind ever popular The Milk House in Sissinghurst) this the pub is located in idyllic Egerton. This pub has, it has all the same foodie credentials and three boutique rooms upstairs. Named after the ancient burial mounds dotting the local landscape – the local area is great for walking or cycling.
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.
The Great House, Hawkhurst
This 16th-century inn set in the heart of the Kentish Weald has a magnificent orangery overlooking the private garden, with a traditional lynch gate and a herb garden adding to its charm. Well-known for serving a top notch roast in the winter months the Mediterranean style stone terrace is the ideal place to enjoy summer evenings. Cheers.
Kentish Hare, Bidborough
A modern, smart looking pub standing proud in the middle of genteel Bidborough, (just north of Tunbridge Wells towards Tonbridge). It’s owned by The Tanner brothers who are well-known in the foodie trade this pub won Best Newcomer 2016 in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastro Pubs in January 2016 and has 2 AA rosettes. The interiors are stylish, the food top notch and there’s a decent pocket of outside space too.
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).
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.
The Dog, Wingham
Superbly located on the road that links Canterbury and Sandwich, and near Wingham Wildlife Park, this pub has recently undergone a total refurb and won Best Destination Pub in Kent, as voted by you in the Muddy Awards. With 8 beautifully designed bedrooms, a Dog Walking Club, great food and cute sun terrace for al fresco eating this one is well worth a visit.