The Three Chimneys
As a longstanding Muddy favourite, we thought that it was high time that we revisited one of our well-loved haunts in Kent. Recently voted as winner of The Good Pub Guide County Dining Pub 2019, we soon discovered that it is still is a jewel in Kent’s crown.
The first thing to tell you about The Three Chimney’s is that there are only two. Chimneys, I mean. Apparently, the explanation behind the name is demonstrated by the pub sign showing a French soldier looking at a three-armed signpost. It refers to the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763), when the 3,000 French prisoners held in Sissinghurst Castle were allowed as far as the pub where three roads, or trois chemins, meet – and no further. So that settles that. What is more, there is a map tracking the path French prisoners took between Sissinghurst Castle and The Three Chimney’s, which you can re-create as a good walk to work up an appetite or blow out the indulgence that has just taken place.
Nestled within the Weald of Kent countryside, just two miles outside the very pretty village of Biddenden, The Three Chimney’s is not only a must-visit foodie destination in Kent but also delivers as a very neat meeting mid-county meeting spot should you have friends on the ‘other side’. With a growing reputation within the gastro scene due to the proximity of West House nearby and Biddenden Vineyards, Biddenden is also a lovely village to potter as it is a typical Wealden village with one of the prettiest main streets in the county, plus some classic tourist attractions such as Sissinghurst Castle and Bedgebury National Pinetum within easy reach.
Here you will be greeted by aged hops adorning the dark oak beams for that archeyptal Kentish pub welcome. The Three Chimney’s cunningly manages to bridge that gap of being a charming ‘olde worlde’ pub with history seeping out of its pores yet it becomes quickly apparent that this is a pub with a difference and beyond those hidden nooks and crannies, you can expect to feast on some very fine fayre that is not stuck in the dark ages. There are five different dining areas, so whether you want to get snug by the roaring fire or overlook the gardens from it terrace, you can just sit back and enjoy the ambience of this hugely relaxing and amiable spot. What makes it even more amiable is that there are five en-suite bedrooms which have been recently added to the hospitality mix at The Three Chimney’s – all equipped with stunning views of the Kentish countryside beyond. Bliss.
SCOFF & QUAFF
I stopped here for lunch in the mad rush before Christmas with the premise to swop Christmas presents with one of my oldest friends and therefore a three-course lunch was not exactly what we needed before the inevitable Christmas gorging began but it proved to be nigh impossible not to resist some of the very tempting dishes on offer.
The focus here is on quality rather than quirky and you will find classic British dishes, using the best of seasonal produce from the fields around you. If you like foam on your food and midget sized portions, this may not be the venue for you but if you want to go back to the best of basics, executed to the highest of standards, then this is DEFINITELY the place.
We kicked off with the very naughty Cheddar Rarebit on toast with Parma Harm and sun-dried tomato salad alongside my friend’s Seared Scallops served with Pancetta and a spiced Parsnip Pureé taken from the Specials board. I will just let the photos do the talking…
Since the gluttony girdle was well and truly off, we followed our starters with a Pan-fried Fillet of Smoked Haddock on a bacon, onion and chive mash, creamed leeks and wholegrain mustard velouté (her) alongside a Pan roasted Rack of Lamb, with dauphinoise potato, butternut squash puree and green beans (me, gulp)
And to just top it all off, we managed to find space for an Amaretti parfait with a winter berry compote and Apple and Plum crumble with Vanilla ice cream. Perfection on a plate.
This was a drive-by visit so quaffing was restricted to a glass of fizz each but should the day have taken a turn for the better and we had been told that our children had been invited on last-minute overnight playdates, we would have gone straight to the comprehensive wine list and pulled out some crackers. I am told that the wine list is changing in January, so they are always seeking out the best of local and international wines to tickle your taste buds.
GOOD FOR KIDDIES?
In many ways, this is a great spot for families as there is a huge garden space for the younger brigade to run amok in and one of the bedrooms can easily be transformed into a family plus there is tonnes to see and do in the local area which will whip them into a frenzy during the day and zonk them out later. There is no dedicated kiddie menu as such, but I’m told that portions can easily be halved (and sausage and chips can also be offered) but if was me, I would negotiate for a child-free day or night and enjoy all the trappings of Three Chimney’s without the little mites.
The clever team behind Three Chimney’s (owner Craig Smith who packed in his City job to take over the pub 18 years ago) are always thinking of ways to evolve the dining space and they will shortly be adding an “island” to the conservatory restaurant and will be serving bread and olives etc from this point and will be open in the New Year. Also consider The Three Chimney’s for your next family function as you can easily take over one of the areas and have the run of place for you and your chums.
OUT & ABOUT
The location of the Three Chimneys means that you are spoilt for choice for a range of local tourist attractions to occupy and entertain both the young and the not so young. At Muddy, we can thoroughly recommend a jaunt to neighbouring Sissinghurst Castle (2.3 miles away) to admire one of THE most famous gardens England lovingly created by Vita Sackville -West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, or Scotney Castle (11 miles away) for that quintessential English outing with its 14th century moated castle to ignite your kids imagination and if you are STILL looking for fun , Bedgebury National Pinetum is a recreational and conservational arboretum with miles of woodland for you to explore – on or off bike. Why not take a leaf out of our book and just soak up the vines (and wines) at Biddenden vineyard just 3 miles away so you could easily walk, ok stagger, home?
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Girls lunch with potential cultural add-ons for a truly enjoyable day out, Family gatherings Couples getaway especially with the option to stay over…
Not for: Stilettos unless you want them to get a little bit muddy….
The damage: This is more of a splash-out place rather than a run of the mill pub lunch and the prices do reflect this so expect to pay around £7 to £9 for your starters and mains start from £13 with puddings coming in at £6.50 each.
The Three Chimneys, Hairplain Road, Biddenden, Ashford, Kent TN27 8LW, Tel: 01580 291472, thethreechimneys.co.uk