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Muddy eats: The Duck, Pett Bottom

Ever rising star in the foodie world, this award-winning traditional country pub serves up innovative, flavoursome food and its Braai BBQ is about to launch for the summer season so reserve your spot in its insanely picturesque beer garden right now…

THE LOCATION  

Kent’s reputation as a foodie destination is growing on a regular basis and The Duck in Pett Bottom is part of that infamous culinary triangle with The Bridge Arms and THE PIG in Bridge all within a few miles of each other as well as The Sportsman and The Fordwich Arms not a million miles away. As you can imagine, it is a close-knit community within that world and the chefs are all good pals so our recommendation is to take a jaunt to this side of Kent and see how many astonishingly good meals you can accomplish over a long weekend. The area is well-known for walkers through open countryside and woodland so a very tidy way to work up an appetite too.  

THE LOWDOWN  

South African born, Dean Legg and his wife, Becky, took over The Duck Inn in 2018 after Dean had worked for well-known Kent establishments such as The Twenty Six in Southborough and The Beacon just outside of Tunbridge Wells. Dean honed his culinary craft in South Africa which explains the Braai part, and he is now relishing this corner of Kent. 

If you can’t take our word alone, let the Awards do the talking too. Not only a finalist in our Best Destination Pub category in the Muddy Kent Awards 2021, The Duck Inn was also voted number 40 in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards earlier this year and has just earnt its rightful place in the MICHELIN Guide.  

THE VIBE  

Doggie-friendly and muddy boots are very welcome so no standing on ceremony here. It’s a traditional English pub steeped in history especially as this is the place where Ian Fleming wrote You Only Live Twice. Fleming weaved the pub into the story of our favourite spy as The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom gets a mention in the novel as being near James Bond’s childhood home. As if you needed another reason to visit. Make sure you also allow time for a picture of the obligatory blue plaque showcasing this fun fact as well as popping your loved ones into the village stocks outside. 

SCOFF AND QUAFF  

Things always get off to a good start when you can’t leave the breadbasket alone. Well, it is their infamous Rosemary and Shallot Foccacia which is made on-site every day. I was with a girl mate who unsurprisingly always puts her hand up when it comes to reviewing places and we opted for Tempura Haddock with Durban Curry Mayonnaise, Lime and Coriander and Torched Mackerel Fillet with Braised Leeks, Herb & Caper Dressing, Buttermilk and Wild Garlic as our starters, with enough jus on the Mackerel to mop up with the foccacia. 

We loved the South African slant on the mayonnaise as Durban has the biggest Indian population in the world outside of India. The curry paste used for the base of the mayonnaise contains approx. 20 ingredients and it is made with a recipe synonymous to the Durban Indian culture. Living proof that unique and authentic South African Indian flavours can be found in the Kentish countryside.  

Pan Roasted Fillet of Hake, New Season Broccoli, Creamed Potato with Capers and Mussel Brown Butter followed and again, it’s these kinds of dishes which really indicates that this is far beyond your pub grub territory and where the Michelin accolades come in. Fish and Chips is served but in the words of M&S, this is no ordinary Fish and Chips as you have Curious Brew Battered Cod, Triple Cooked Chips, Crushed Peas, Tartare Sauce so if you need to scratch that itch, you will be well looked after here.  

My friend also opted for the Dingley Dell Pork Chop from a family-run pork farm in East Suffolk which was served alongside Roast Belly (oh yes – let’s throw some more pork at the situation), Mashed Potato, New Season Asparagus, Roast Carrot and Apricot Puree which was a truly decadent dish full of pork cooked to perfection.  

As the food trend rightly leans towards the hospitality industry using local suppliers, it was surprising to see non-Kent suppliers on the list but as Dean says, “Dingley Dell and Orchard Farm pork are the two farms we use purely for the quality of the pork, the farming practices, and the consistency of the product. Locality is important but the quality of the food, product and farming practise is more important to me.”  

We shared a Lemon Posset, Crushed Meringue, Raspberries with Blackberry Sorbet which was about the only thing that could be absorbed after all that eating, but we also hear very good things on the local grapevine about their Basque Cheesecake with Marcona Almonds and Blood Orange sorbet. It is worth noting that whilst everything was delicious, you might be overwhelmed by the rich flavours so go with a game strategy – do a local walk beforehand and have a very simple breakfast as you want to enjoy every minute.   

Drinks wise, we were driving so we opted for Fever Tree tonic waters served, upon their recommendation, with frozen peas. This could have been an Emperor New Clothes’ moment, but it worked as a taste combo. But if you do return a more celebratory affair, you will be well-looked after in the wine department.  

ANYTHING ELSE?  

Sunday lunch is a bit of an institution here and make sure you book in to get a very privileged place at the table. Their roast beef, marinated in black treacle, is not to be ignored if you do and my infant Muddy crew still bang on about the biggest (and best) Yorkshire puddings they have ever tasted.  

Our visit co-incided with a wedding breakfast which had taken place at The Duck Inn the night before for a local chef and his wife, so the pub was full of glass jars packed full of wildflowers on every table and some sore heads. Even though Dean explained that technically they are not a wedding venue, if you are after an informal reception in a traditional pub with exquisite food, Dean is always open to looking after people and helping bring their foodie dream alive.  

Make sure you keep your ears and eyes out for when the Summer Braai BBQ will open (rumour has it from July onwards) as The Duck Inn possesses one of the prettiest beer gardens in this corner in Kent so it really is the perfect marriage of amazing views with ridiculously good food.  

THE MUDDY VERDICT    

GOOD FOR? We’ve been here with the family, date night and a girls’ get get-together, so it suits all manners of occasions plus there is baby-changing facilities in the bathroom, so everyone is welcome here.  

NOT FOR? It does take some dedication to find The Duck Inn as it is squirreled away down some country lanes where you may have to do some serious reverse manoeuvring if you encounter a hellbent tractor, but we assure you, it is well worth the journey.  

THE DAMAGE    

Starters range from £8 to £10; Mains are from £19-£30 (if you are gunning for the 30-day Aged Ribeye Steak) and Desserts are around the £8 mark so it is on the pricier side but well-matched for the calibre of the food. 

Pett Bottom Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 5PB, theduckpettbottom.com, 01227 830354, theduckpettbottom@outlook.com

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