Muddy Reviews: The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux
We may have found our new favourite pub in Kent with quintessential English vibes set in a picture-perfect location deep in the Kentish countryside. Shall we?
Say hello to The Rose Inn, expect quintessential English vibes set in a picture-perfect location deep in the Kentish countryside with stunning British food, sourced from local farms and producers, with an exceptionally talented chef at the helm. We like!
You’ll find Wickhambreaux, six miles outside Canterbury, just off the A257 road heading towards Sandwich and Deal. This is Kent countryside, at its best, with oast houses scattered amongst the rural fields with some of Kent’s finest fruit, as well as cereal and vegetable crops, growing around you.
Wickhambreaux is the kind of village that you would expect to find on a film set as it is packed full of historic buildings, centred around the village green, with a former watermill on the banks of the Little Stour included within this picturesque scene.
The Rose Inn sits pride of place on the village green and has been serving the locals since the 16th Century as well as travellers en route to and from France. Chef and Publican, Billy Stock grew up in Kent and learnt his trade in London working at well-known foodie spots such as St. John and Salt Yard, as well as the top floor restaurant at Tate Modern, plus Samphire in Whitstable.
In 2021, Billy swapped his London commute for the keys to The Rose Inn (with his living quarters now being above the pub) and he opened its doors in June this year and of course, Muddy was one of the first in line to sample its’ wares.
It’s a cosy environment, with traditional hops adorning the ceiling which have been creatively customized by Billy’s mother, and Billy has lovingly decorated the pub too, so it has been a very hands-on affair.
Farrow & Ball paints have been used throughout, and it’s muted and stylish, plus The Rose Inn also gets good loo points for its quirky décor. Billy is a big fan of soul and funk music, and we were entertained to hear that the first thing he did upon taking on The Rose Inn was to draw up his music playlist. We are sold even before the food has come out…
Billy’s mission is to revitalize this well-loved pub and unite his passion for food and community. It’s evident that this is already working as the village already rely on The Rose Inn as a quasi-post office with villagers leaving house keys for worksmen there, and parcels are often dropped off too for residents, and The Rose Inn always looks after the bell ringers on a Thursday following their weekly practise in the local church.
It’s the kind of place where you could easily take friends and impress them with the delicious food and ambience (a table has already been booked for my stylish New Yorker friend arriving in two weeks’ time) and equally it works as an old-fashioned boozer for just a drink and a chat.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
There is no official menu here – just a blackboard listing the daily creations from Billy’s kitchen using what meat and vegetables he has laid his hands on for that day. Key working relationships have already been established with local producers such as Wonky Parsnip and Walmerston Growers and he sources his meat and fish from nearby Deal. The bread is baked by a local man in neighbouring Littlebourne who turned his hobby into a profession during lockdown, and now supplies bread to The Rose Inn on a regular basis.
We opted for Roast Peppers, Chickpeas and Curd and Grilled Sardines with Chilli and Lime for starters. Simplicity is key here and Billy lets the produce do the talking by not overcrowding the plate and it was a true delight from start to finish.
My dining companion and I subsequently shared Roast Old Spot with Romesco and Grilled Spring Onion as a main with pink firs (with emulsified butter) and Braised Chard, Chilli, Garlic and Anchovy alongside. The photos will hopefully demonstrate the exquisite art of the pork’s crackling and the Braised Chard is still being lovingly remembered a week or so after the bowl had been scraped clean. There might have been fingers involved…
There’s always room for pudding and we tried the Buttermilk pudding & poached apricots as well as the Choc Pot with crème fraiche & toasted almonds. Needless to say, the table had already been booked for a return visit before we had even left.
In terms of quaffability, the wine menu has a strong focus on Kent wine brands which should come as no surprise but what did tickle our tastebuds was the Kentish Pip Brut from local Woolton Farm. A refreshing alternative to sparkling wine (and less alcohol content too), it was a delicious and dry accompaniment especially to the pork dish so we shall be seeking this one out on a more regular basis.
There’s going to be live music so make sure you keep an ear out, via our Muddy What’s On guides, on the next event that you can join in as Billy has a knack for finding local talent and has been known to offer buskers gigs on the spot. A Gypsy Jazz guitar band will be playing at the venue sometime soon so watch this space!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR? Foodies who appreciate the art of using seasonal and local produce in a creative yet comforting manner. We also love the fact that you can regularly visit and always be assured to have something new to try, although it might disappoint any creatures of habit who always like the same dish.
NOT FOR? Not your fussy offspring. They are very welcome and the beer garden is a great place for them to roam but the limited menu means that you might not placate them on the foodie front.
Dishes vary on a day-to-day level, but the starters cost approximately £7/£8, mains from £15 to £20 and puddings/cheese plates around £8/£9. Sides cost around £4, and a bottle of wine starts from £20. We can vouch that every penny spent at The Rose Inn is well-worth it, especially as you know that money is fuelling the local community.
The Rose Inn, The Green, Wickhambreaux, Canterbury, CT3 1RQ, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01227 721 763