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Secret Drinker reviews the Black Horse pub in Borough Green


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Greeted by two scantily clad, quite classy looking ladies in the window I didn’t take too much persuading to spend a little time in the Black Horse at Borough Green.

Bob Marley was on the jukebox and this, combined with the warm late afternoon sunshine, all added to the chilled out mood and that Friday feeling ahead of the weekend.

The Black Horse on Maidstone Road in Borough Green appears to be the only pub left in the village
The Black Horse on Maidstone Road in Borough Green appears to be the only pub left in the village

Several fellas, who had either finished work early, or retired far too early, were congregated around the snazzy looking pool table with its red baize and yellow and blue balls.

There was a little bit of pool being played and an awful lot more banter being shared – I took a decision there and then that I must pick up a cue before I leave and have a frame, but also avoid being hustled.

When I asked when the pub had last been done up the barmaid told me she didn’t know as she’s only been here nine months but you could tell straight away she must have had boozers before.

It was such a pleasant, sunny late afternoon that, for once, it wasn’t just smokers sitting at the tables at the back of the pub
It was such a pleasant, sunny late afternoon that, for once, it wasn’t just smokers sitting at the tables at the back of the pub

There was only one real beer on tap so I rolled back the years and had a pint of Old Speckled Hen before taking a seat between the pool players and the two ladies in swimsuits.

The left hand side of the pub has something of a sports bar feel, with its pool table, darts, two electronic fruit machines and instant cash machine, but there is a little snug-style room to the right – there was just one bloke in there, quietly sipping his pint whilst gazing beyond the statuettes into the distance, he reminded me a little of Murray Walker.

There are a number of TV screens around and a projector pointing at a large rolled screen in the back window so I’m sure they take the opportunity to show as much live footie as possible.

Ignore the glass, this was my first pint of Old Speckled Hen for many a long year and I quite enjoyed it
Ignore the glass, this was my first pint of Old Speckled Hen for many a long year and I quite enjoyed it

Inside the place felt fresher and lighter than I’d expected with a generally more modern feel but why anywhere feels the need to have mini fairy lights wrapped around plastic garlands is completely beyond me.

I headed in search of real nature and followed the rays of sunshine coming through the open back door.

I know everything looks better in decent weather, but I have to say the garden is absolutely beautiful and superbly maintained. The barmaid, who was taking a break, joined me outside and said she’s never had a garden before but does most of the work herself and really enjoys it.

After all the hard work our hostess had put into the garden it looked as pretty as a picture with shafts of sunlight cutting through the trees
After all the hard work our hostess had put into the garden it looked as pretty as a picture with shafts of sunlight cutting through the trees

My suspicion she’d been in the pub game for a while was correct as she confirmed previously having the Great Harry in Belvedere and a pub in Medway for 20 years before that, so she’s an old hand.

Having taken the air we returned inside and next through the front door were five women all wearing tiaras with glitter patterns painted across their cheeks, only four were tattooed.

They were accompanied by a bearded, and pony-tailed, Phil and, unlike the ladies, who were ordering very powerful brews, he chose a pint of bitter shandy – presumably he felt safer keeping his wits about him.

With freedom to roam as he pleases, pub dog AJ may be getting on a bit but he’s still quick to spot a dropped crisp
With freedom to roam as he pleases, pub dog AJ may be getting on a bit but he’s still quick to spot a dropped crisp
When I finally stopped scratching his back AJ took advantage of the pool table not being in use to do the job himself
When I finally stopped scratching his back AJ took advantage of the pool table not being in use to do the job himself

Once drinks were in hands, the six-strong circus headed for the garden. I was left with a loveable old grey pub dog called AJ who would take any amount of back scratching – when I stopped he just moved under the pool table and did the job himself.

I took a swift break to visit the facilities and although they are old fashioned with a traditional stainless steel trough they were pretty well maintained and, you won’t find many gents toilets boasting five separate windows.

Back in the bar a family group had just walked in and the barmaid was politely, but pointedly, asking that the children be kept away from the bar area.

A pair of scantily clad women, one wearing a blue swimsuit, the other a red one, are just inside the window
A pair of scantily clad women, one wearing a blue swimsuit, the other a red one, are just inside the window
The majority of the left hand side of pub is given over to the pool table, dartboard and jukebox
The majority of the left hand side of pub is given over to the pool table, dartboard and jukebox

The current frame of pool had just finished and nobody else was waiting so I bought myself a pint of Kronenbourg and challenged the winner to a game.

Given I haven’t played for years I was pleased I managed to clear all but one of my balls before the black was sunk. I can’t pretend the result was ever really in doubt but it wasn’t too embarrassing.

On my walk back into the village I didn’t spot any other pubs. I seem to remember a large lump of a place up near the train station at one time but that’s now a mini supermarket.

So it seems the Black Horse is the only real pub left in Borough Green and, ably marshalled by an experienced barmaid, it seems to be in good hands so fingers crossed it not only survives, but thrives.

I wasn’t eating but the van offering Caribbean cuisine, parked up right outside the pub, looked really interesting
I wasn’t eating but the van offering Caribbean cuisine, parked up right outside the pub, looked really interesting
As well as the mobile kitchen at the front there was also a sign down the side of the pub advertising Pimmyz Pizza but I wasn’t sure if it was available here or was just an ad
As well as the mobile kitchen at the front there was also a sign down the side of the pub advertising Pimmyz Pizza but I wasn’t sure if it was available here or was just an ad
Perhaps a little on the old fashioned side, the gents was nevertheless functional and fairly well maintained
Perhaps a little on the old fashioned side, the gents was nevertheless functional and fairly well maintained
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For anyone looking for a quiet chat away from the distraction of the pool table or the regulars on stools at the bar there’s a small room to the right of the pub
For anyone looking for a quiet chat away from the distraction of the pool table or the regulars on stools at the bar there’s a small room to the right of the pub
Quite a nice touch to have a vase of fresh carnations on the bar
Quite a nice touch to have a vase of fresh carnations on the bar

Black Horse, 76 Maidstone Road, Borough Green, Sevenoaks TN15 8HF

Decor: It leans towards being a sports bar but the quality of the back garden and a snug at the side provide other options. Clean, tidy and well-kept but I’d lose the fairy lights. ***

Drink: The 4.5% Speckled Hen (Greene King) was a decent, darkish malty pint with a very creamy head and I was glad I revisited it after all these years. The Kronenbourg was as you would expect, but it was well poured and well chilled. ***

Price: A pint of Speckled Hen was £4.20. I’m not sure exactly what the Kronenbourg cost, but combined with a packet of McCoy’s salt and vinegar crisps the price totalled £5.50. ***

Staff: Experienced, professional and absolutely no nonsense, I was impressed by the barmaid and, judging by the reactions of the locals, they hold her in high regard too. ****

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